Expired Couple Therapy with Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors and Their Partners: Establishing a Context for Witnessing

Couples in which one partner has experienced childhood sexual abuse often face unique challenges related to physical contact, intimacy, sexuality, communication, and trust. Their relationship dynamic may exhibit reenactments of past traumatic relational patterns. This workshop will present a clinical practice grounded in the belief that providing the witnessing that was absent during childhood events can disrupt traumatic reenactments in adulthood and spur recovery.

We will introduce Scheinkman & Fishbane’s Vulnerability Cycle (VC) model, offering a perspective for working with these couples. VC conceptualizes couples’ presenting issues as rooted in a reciprocal interactional/emotional pattern contributing to their difficulties. The couples’ entanglement in this pattern arises from the activation of vulnerabilities and survival strategies stemming from past traumas, complicating their existing modes of relating.

The workshop will delve into the concept of “dissociative collusion” as a valuable theoretical and clinical tool. Additionally, it will outline specific clinical practices inspired by Narrative Therapy to establish a context for witnessing within couple therapy sessions. Case presentations will be employed to demonstrate techniques and illustrate the broad applicability of this approach to couples grappling with complex trauma and its repercussions.

Learning Objectives:

  • To articulate how the couple’s entrapment in trauma patterns is indicative of activated vulnerabilities and survival strategies rooted in their past
  • To analyze the significance of the “lack of witness” during childhood trauma and its profound impact on reenactments in the couple’s adult life
  • To describe the role of establishing witnessing that was absent during childhood trauma in disrupting traumatic reenactments during adulthood


Ron Nasim, PhD is a clinical psychologist and certified couple and family therapist based in Israel. He is a former coordinator and supervisor for the couple and family therapy program at LOTEM clinic for sexual abuse survivors, Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv. Dr. Nasim lectures and supervises at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Tel-Aviv University and the Barcai Institute as well as at the Adelphi University couples program. His research centers on exploring the profound effects of trauma on couples and psychotherapy integration.

Return to Workshops

  • April 5, 2024
    10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Ron Nasim, PhD

3 CE Contact Hours


Location:   Online Event


A link will be emailed to you one day before the event. Online events are held in Eastern Standard Time (ET).

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