Kathy Steele has been offering consultation and training for the past 30 years in the areas of complex trauma, dissociation, and attachment.
She is sought as a consultant and supervisor, and as an international lecturer and trainer.
Kathy is a Past President and Fellow of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), and has served on the Board of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), as well as served on the International Task Force that developed treatment guidelines for Dissociative Disorders.
Currently Kathy is on a Joint Task Force that is developing treatment guidelines for Complex PTSD.
Kathy has authored and co-authored numerous book chapters, journal articles, and two award winning books on trauma and dissociation with Dutch colleagues: The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology), and Coping with Trauma Related Dissociation Skills Training for Patients and Therapists. One of her current projects is a third book on treatment of trauma-related dissociation focused on the issues that clinicians often bring to supervision.
The four C’s: compassion, clarity, complexity and competence.
What Led to the Specialization of Trauma?
Kathy got into this field accidentally. She shares the story of how she began her training as a nurse, and quickly grew to love the psychiatric part of nursing. When she was getting her Master’s degree she started working in a major inner-city hospital of Atlanta where she came into contact with a lot of trauma, though as Kathy says, I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand what was going on.
This set the stage for Kathy’s first client in private practice, who happened to be someone who was highly dissociative. Slowly, through supervision and consultation, Kathy started down the pathway to being known as a someone who could work and wanted to work in this specialization.
A Crucial Early Mistake
Kathy talks about one of the early mistakes she made while working with individuals who were dissociative. During this time little was known about dissociation and so as Kathy describes it, we had very very little training and awareness of what to do. The mistake she made was focusing on the trauma too much and the content of what happened, rather than how does this person organize themselves.
It’s what I know how to do best. But it’s also something I feel passionate about and contributing in some small way to the trauma field.
- Know that you don’t know, and go into seeing every client knowing that you don’t know everything.
- Be willing to explore with your client what they are experiencing as they are talking about their experience.
- Our favorite theory, our favorite way of working is not going to work with every client.
Kathy’s go-to books
- Rebuilding Shattered Lives: The Responsible Treatment of Complex Post-Traumatic and Dissociative Disorders, James A. Chu
- The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology), Onno van der Hart
- Coping with Trauma Related Dissociation Skills Training for Patients and Therapists, Boon, Suzette, Steele, Kathy, Hart, Onno van der [W. W. Norton,2011] (Paperback)