Robert T. Muller trained at Harvard University, was on faculty at the University of Massachusetts, and is currently at York University in Toronto.
Dr. Muller was recently honored as a Fellow of the International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD) for his work on trauma treatment. And his psychotherapy bestseller, Trauma and the Avoidant Client, in its third printing, has been translated and won the 2011 ISSTD award for the year’s best written work on trauma. Dr. Muller’s new book is entitled Trauma and the Struggle to Open Up and it’s about how to navigate the psychotherapy relationship with trauma survivors.
As lead investigator on several multi-site programs to treat interpersonal trauma, Dr. Muller has lectured internationally and has been the keynote speaker at mental health conferences in New Zealand and Canada.
He founded an online magazine, The Trauma & Mental Health Report, that is now visited by over 100,000 readers a year.
With over 20 years in the field, he practices in Toronto.
You have to pass through the trauma, through the biggest pain, to continue normally, more or less normally, with life.
What Led to the Specialization of Trauma?
Robert talks about growing up with parents who were children in Hungary during the holocaust and hearing stories from them, some painful, some surprising, and as a young child assumed everyone’s parents grew up with the holocaust. As a result, Robert became immersed in the idea that people lived through traumatic experiences.
A Crucial Early Mistake
Robert shares an early career story of working with a male client and starting off not really liking him and realizing how that negatively impacted the therapy. However, over the course of their therapeutic relationship Robert began to see this client in a different light which had a positive effect on not only their relationship but also allowed the therapy to bloom.
Robert talks about his sense of needing to rescue people from themselves, from the difficulties and traumas in their lives because during such times there often aren’t many people to talk to.
- Get therapy! It’s really hard to do trauma therapy if you haven’t been involved in your own therapy.
- Have a focus on counter-transference and notice what’s going on with your own feelings and actions.
- Get supervision. Trauma therapy is really hard to do without good supervision.
- Be attentive to vicarious traumatization. We all are susceptible to being vicariously traumatized.
- Engage in self-care: schedule and take breaks.
Robert’s go-to books
- Trauma and the Avoidant Client: Attachment-Based Strategies for Healing (Norton Professional Books), Robert T. Muller
- Trauma and the Struggle to Open Up: From Avoidance to Recovery and Growth, Robert T. Muller
- Rebuilding Shattered Lives: Treating Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorders, James A. Chu