Date: Friday, June 2, 2023; 10am-5:15pm Eastern (Find the time for your location)
Instructors: Mary Jo Barrett, MSW with Liz Brenner, LICSW
Location: First Parish Waltham, 50 Church Street in Waltham, MA and Live on Zoom (synchronous)
Credits: 6 CEUs


This workshop will help participants harness the natural rhythm of relational change and healing with the Collaborative Change Model. If it weren’t for inter and extra familial trauma, there would be far less need for counseling and far less suffering. Working with couples and families when there has been trauma is far less common than working with individuals. The Collaborative Change Model is a road map for including family of origin and family of creation as a key treatment element and resource, even in the face of extreme events and trauma reactivity. This work is deeply healing, co-creating more just relationships in current and future generations.

No two traumas are identical: the dynamics of interpersonal trauma and violence vary from situation to situation. Likewise, no two treatment modalities are identical. Yet there are common variables both in what our clients present in psychotherapy and in the models clinicians employ. One of the key ingredients in complex developmental trauma is that it is embedded within a relationship that should have been protected by healthy attachment. Traumatic events within families result in an experience of betrayal in our foundational relationships. This accounts for much of the fight, flight, freeze, fix, and submission difficulties of our clients. The myriad of difficulties people suffer from these experiences account for the abundance of innovative interventions and treatment approaches to trauma that have been developed in recent years. Therapist/client relationships need to harness the natural cycles of emotional social engagement in people’s real lives. Family of origin as well as current relationships can be used to heal past traumas. When trauma is healed in the relationships that held it, the outcomes are multiply meaningful, real, and far reaching in their effects.

Mary Jo will review the Collaborative Change Model, a practical three-tiered, systemically cyclical strength-based meta blueprint; CCM is a relational contextual model. The CCM can be applied to all models of trauma treatment as it harnesses the universal recursive nature of change. One of the key innovations of this model is working directly with relationships in which there has been harm. We will explore the repetitive cycles of trauma in relationships and will learn the Collaborative Change framework that utilizes cycles of change when working in all treatment modalities. Mary Jo will describe a Family Dialogue process that guides conversations to improve relationships between people who are in significant relational distress, disagreement and even estrangement. Through video tape examples, live role play demonstration, and experiential exercises, participants will understand key principles of the Collaborative Change Model, learning to harness natural cycles of change in intimate relationships.

Liz will describe a systemic approach used to invite family and couple members to take responsibility for change. The focus is helping each individual work on their part of the problem pattern in their relationships. Harnessing this motivation to act is the art of the work. This transtheoretical systemic model utilizes strategies of reframing as well as solution focused, collaborative, narrative approaches in a socio-culturally attuned framework. The lens described prioritizes intersectional identities and socio-political contexts of the trauma including who has what power with a goal of enhancing relational justice. This model will be described then demonstrated with a video of a role play couple which will then be discussed. The case shown will provide an example of working cross racially with parents who have been investigated for neglect by the child welfare system and are struggling with issues related to substance abuse and an incident of interpersonal partner violence. Unpacking of the learning from the role play demonstration will include paying attention to racial and cultural differences between the therapist and couple and within the couple.

Anti-racist and anti-discrimination content: In order to truly harness the natural cycle of change, clinicians must recognize and be sensitive to the intersectionality of all the layers of a human’s experience of violation. We will explore Intersecting traumatic experience of our clients and our own historical trauma and traumas of identities examining who we are and the violations of factors including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, race, class (past and present), religious beliefs, sexual identity and sexual expression.

Teaching methods will include lecture, discussion in small groups, Q&A, live role play demonstration and a video taped role play demonstration. The content will enhance clinical practice with clients who have experienced a wide range of traumatic experiences. We will teach clinicians how to focus on freeing people of the effects of trauma in their current lives. Examples of addressing abuse of power to facilitate more just relationships in a variety of contexts will be explored.

Mary Jo Barrett, MSW

Mary Jo Barrett, MSW is the Founder and Director of The Center for Contextual Change, located in Metro Chicago. CCC is a clinical Training Center specializing in The Collaborative Stage Model-a component phase model working with individuals, families, and groups. Mary Jo was previously a long-time adjunct faculty member of the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration, the Family Institute of Northwestern University and The Chicago Center for Family Health. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois Jane Addams School of Social Work. Ms. Barrett is a nationally prominent expert in the treatment of trauma and traumatic violence in the family and in our communities. Her model is a collaborative, resilience-oriented approach which helps families create healing plans that can provide lasting change. Mary Jo also works extensively with helping therapists prevent Compassion Fatigue and heal from Vicarious Traumatization. She is a leading authority on family violence, including the physical and sexual abuse of children, neglect, incest, and spouse abuse, as well as neighborhood gun violence and has been working on these issues in since 1974. Ms. Barrett has co-authored a new book Treating Complex Trauma: A Relational Blueprint for Collaboration and Change with Linda Stone Fish (2023). Ms. Barrett has co-authored two books with Dr. Terry Trepper: Treating Incest: A Multiple Systems Perspective (2014) and The Systemic Treatment of Incest: A Therapeutic Handbook (1989). She is working two handbooks: Systemic Treatment of Trauma and Interpersonal Violence and a handbook addressing compassion fatigue. Her other publications focus on systemic and feminist treatment of women, adult survivors of sexual abuse and trauma, eating disorders, couples therapy and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ms. Barrett provides consultations, workshops, and courses, nationally and internationally to families, lawyers, psychotherapists, social service providers, staff of residential treatment facilities and staff of governmental agencies.

Elizabeth Brenner, LICSW

Elizabeth Brenner, LICSW is the Director of Therapy Training Boston. She teaches and hosts relevant, informative continuing education on a wide variety of topics in a relaxed and nurturing environment. Liz has 30 years of experience doing family, couple and individual therapy in child psychiatric inpatient, residential, home-based and private practice settings. She was on the faculty of the Family Institute of Cambridge from 2003 until 2009 when it closed. She is currently the co-director of the Harvard Treating Couples Conference and a teaching associate for Harvard Medical School providing family therapy training to staff at Cambridge Health Alliance in the Couple and Family Therapy Program. In 2017, Liz was the appreciative recipient of the award for the Greatest Contribution to Social Work Practice from the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Liz has written two book chapters on doing intensive home-based family therapy. In 2021, she published a short article in the New England Journal for Relational and Systemic Therapy called Couple Therapy in the Absence of Presence: Translating Presence to the Screen.

Registration Instructions

Payment options include online registration with payment using PayPal as a conduit to your credit card or a PayPal account. You may also register online and mail a check with a note indicating what program the payment is for. If you are mailing payment, please note that your space is not reserved until we receive it.

Email acknowledgments will be sent to confirm receipt of online registrations only. An email will be sent a few days before the start date of the event with details about your program.

Outline of Topics

  1. The Collaborative Change Model
  2. Creating Safety Through Assessment
  3. Exploring Attachment in Relationships, Present and Past
  4. A Model for Inviting People to Take Responsibility for Problematic Behaviors that Perpetuate Stuck Patterns Surrounding Traumatic Events
  5. The Family Dialogue Process for Working with Estrangement in Relationships and How It is Practiced with a Live Role Play Demonstration

Learning Objectives

Attendees will be able to:

  1. Identify three strategies for trauma work that includes present and past relationships.
  2. Describe the three tiers of the Collaborative Change Model.
  3. Compare the use of a relational approach to trauma with an individual approach.
  4. Explain how to design the Family Dialogue Process.
  5. Describe two strategies to invite people to take responsibility for change.


  • 10am-12pm
  • Break
  • 1-3pm
  • Break
  • 3:15pm-5:15pm


  • Individual Registration: Regular Rate—$145; Early Bird Rate—$125
  • Early Registration Deadline: April 28, 2023
  • NEAFAST Member Rate: $120; Student Rate: $75
  • Black Therapists Rock, National Association of Black Counselors and all BIPOC clinicians may access an Equity Rate of $100.
  • Please contact us for discount codes. No application is required.
  • 6 CEUs will be available at an additional cost of $20 paid upon registration for social workers, mental health counselors, and marriage & family therapists.


The event will be held at 50 Church Street in Waltham, MA and Live on Zoom. We will not be recording this event.

Additional Information

Participants MUST attend 100% of the program to earn the 6 CEUs approved for eligible professions. Upon completion of the event, participants who are eligible and paid for CEUs will have access to complete a workshop evaluation online and download their CEU certificate.

  • Therapy Training Boston is approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6707 for Mental Health Counselors. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Therapy Training Boston is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
  • This activity is approved for 6 Social Work Continuing Education hours for re-licensure in accordance with 258 CMR by the The National Association of Social Workers Massachusetts Chapter (NASW-MA) Authorization number D 91695-1 on behalf of the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions for LICSW/LCSW professional continuing education.
  • This activity is certified by the New England Association for Family and Systemic Therapy, Inc. for professional continuing education. Certification #PC-041816 (Webcast) and #PC-041817 (In Person) on behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions for 6 LMFT professional continuing education.

Read detailed information about CEUs here.

No refunds are available for cancellations by participants regardless of the reason or time frame. If participants cancel 30 days or more prior to the event beginning, they may apply the fee to a future program. Workshops may be cancelled by Therapy Training Boston if minimum enrollment requirements are not met or in the case of other unexpected circumstances. If this occurs, a full refund will be provided.

Course content level: This workshop will provide important information for clinicians who are at an introductory or intermediate level of knowledge about working with trauma in a relational context. Advanced practitioners are welcome to attend the event to deepen their knowledge of the subject for practice, supervision, teaching, and administrative roles.

Target Audience: This offering is relevant to all helping professionals including but not limited to social workers, mental health counselors, and marriage & family therapists.

Commercial support and conflicts of interest: There is no commercial support for this program

For all event policies read this, detailed CEU information here.