Integrating a Fragmented Sense of Self Using CBT Principles: When Less is More

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Presenting Author(s): Dr. Helen Kennerley, D. Phil

Date and time: 25 Mar 2023 from 10:20 to 11:20

Location: Wildrose Salon C  Floor Map

Learning Objectives

  1. To use a broad range of psychological principles to inform clinical work;
  2. To personalize and simplify formulations; 
  3. To use formulations to guide interventions.


The link between traumatic or stressful experiences and dissociation is well established across a range of psychological disorders. In some instances sense of self becomes fragmented and normally integrated aspects of self-knowledge and being seemingly dissociate in time, or with regard to affect or even identity. Sometimes the experience is short-lived, sometimes it is chronic but it is almost always distressing . Amongst the ways in which we can understand these processes and help sufferers manage them are CBT principles and methods. CBT “first principles” reflect common psychological and neuropsychological processes and as such are pan-diagnostic and flexible (Beck & Haigh, 2914). This, rather broad, knowledge base can provide a foundation to understanding both why and how a fragmented sense of self evolved, which in itself can offer a compassionate conceptualisation. This, in turn, can inspire ideas for recovery, present possibilities for integration and strengthening a sense of self, but only if the conceptualisation is relatable. The art of our work lies in creating a therapeutic medium that is well informed and reflects the psychological complexity of dissociation, yet offers a blueprint for treatment that is simple enough and personally relevant enough to speak to the patient. The art of our work is knowing when less is more.

Literature References

Beck, A. T., & Haigh, E. A. (2014). Advances in cognitive theory and therapy: The generic cognitive model. Annual review of clinical psychology, 10(1), 1-24.

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