scapegoat child recovery

Trauma-Informed Treatment for Adult Survivors of FSA

Rebecca C. Mandeville, MA
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In this article, I discuss the Trauma-Informed Stabilization Treatment (TIST) model and why I choose to use this particular trauma treatment modality in my private psychotherapy practice when working with clients who are suffering from Family Scapegoating Abuse (FSA) and Complex Trauma symptoms.To watch my video in which I discuss the TIST model in more depth, go here.

In my last two articles, I discussed how I assess Complex Trauma (C-PTSD) symptoms with people who come to me who have been scapegoated by their family. I also discussed how I assess for Structural Dissociation, which can go along with complex trauma. If you missed reading those articles, you can check them out on my blog.

About Implicit Memory

It is important that I let therapists, clinicians, and adult survivors of FSA know about the Trauma-Informed Stabilization Treatment (TIST) model (developed by trauma expert Dr Janina Fisher) because most people haven’t heard of it, nor have they heard of Structural Dissociation. If this is all new to you, just know that it is new to most people, including therapists.

If you’re an adult survivor of FSA, you’ll also find this information on the TIST model helpful in that it can assist you in finding the right kind of Mental Health professional to work with – a trauma-informed professional – one who’s properly licensed / certified and trained to help you with the sorts of symptoms that can result from what I call ‘family scapegoating abuse’ (FSA) and attendant complex trauma (C-PTSD) symptoms. Mental Health providers trained in ‘parts therapy’ and ‘parts language’ (such a therapist specializing in Internal Family Systems (IFS) or Psychosynthesis, as discussed in my introductory guide on FSA, Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed) could be quite capable of helping an FSA adult survivor, for example, even if they are not TIST-certified. (To find a TIST-trained therapist go here.)

Something that surprises my clients when they first start working with me is learning that they are experiencing implicit memories when they are feeling ‘triggered’ or emotionally activated. What that means is that the body is remembering past traumatic events. The body is holding the traumatic memories. The body is experiencing / feeling the effects of neglect, abandonment, scapegoating, and other types of Adverse Childhood Experiences (take the ACE quiz here).

Clients in my practice who feel that they’re easily (or often) activated / triggered can benefit from the TIST model’s trauma-informed approach. As a clinician treating adult survivors of child psycho-emotional abuse, I appreciate that this treatment modality (created by Dr Janina Fisher) has been proven to be an efficacious form of treatment in multiple settings.

The Body Really Does ‘Keep the Score’

So what does this mean for you as an adult survivor of FSA? It means that when you are experiencing intense, overwhelming thoughts, feelings, sensations and reactions, you are more than likely experiencing implicit memory. Specifically, your body is remembering past trauma, and how the brain and body reacted to this trauma in an effort to cope and survive a hostile, scary, dangerous, or threatening environment.

Remembering trauma does not have to be associated with only cognitive memories, complete with names, dates, times, and those kinds of details. It is your body that is remembering when you feel triggered and activated. Once you start to understand this concept, you’ll understand that you indeed may be suffering from complex trauma symptoms, even if you have no recollection of experiencing any traumatic events. Needless to say, if you are experiencing somatic symptoms, your body needs to be a critical aspect of the trauma-informed care that ideally you would receive as an adult survivor of FSA.

TIST: An Integrative Model for Treating C-PTSD

The Trauma-Informed Stabilization Treatment (TIST) is the treatment modality that I prefer to use in my practice at this point in my career. This is because the integrative model Dr Janina Fisher created is highly effective for those clients open to learning about traumatized ‘parts’ and how to work with their parts in a therapeutic manner.

Specifically: Dr Fisher’s TIST model integrates Neuroscience research and is based on Structural Dissociation Theory; Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy; Sensorimotor Psychotherapy; Ego State techniques; and Internal Family Systems, or IFS. The TIST model is based on the assumption that severe reactions exhibited by adult survivors are not evidence of a personality disorder or mental illness but instead indicate trauma-related fragmentation and alienation from self.

In practice, the client is invited to simply notice their ‘parts’ and to begin to understand the actions and reactions of their parts – what the parts might be wanting, needing, feeling; what they might be wanting to express; and what they are afraid of. Gradually, the parts are tended to and integrated, and the client begins to experience a sense of wholeness within, versus fragmentation.

The TIST model focuses on resolving the impact of the trauma and not reliving the trauma. This is because we know today via trauma research that repeatedly sharing traumatic events does not support healing and can actually be harmful to the traumatized brain. With the TIST model, I can invite my psychotherapy and coaching clients to notice their body and notice their ‘parts’ without over-stimulating their amygdala, allowing me to work in a trauma-informed manner conducive to long-term healing and integration.


Learn more about Dr Janina Fisher’s TIST model here. Search for a TIST-trained therapist here. For a more comprehensive discussion of how I work with clients traumatized by family scapegoating abuse, watch my video on family scapegoat abuse (FSA) recovery and TIST here. Read Dr Fisher’s book on healing fragmented selves here.

Find a TIST-certified therapist here.


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Photo by Matheus Bertelli: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-using-umbrella-with-lights-573238/

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. It’s important to note that TIST is a complex and multi-faceted approach, and the success of TIST applications can vary depending on a number of factors, including the severity of the individual’s symptoms, the presence of co-occurring mental health conditions, and the level of support received from family, friends, and other community resources.
    Thanks for the work you’ve done!

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