April 2024

Dr Ruth Lawson-McConnell


Kia ora Friends and Colleagues,

In this season of Easter, while the northern hemisphere is going into Spring/Resurrection mode, we in the south are entering autumn. I hope you were able to have a good break over the Easter Long weekend, recharging for the work ahead.

In this newsletter I wanted to share what I have been learning as well as what I am presenting over the next few months.

I had the privilege of hearing the world-renowned trauma expert, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk at the Trauma Conference in Christchurch last month. His overview of what has been happening in the trauma research space was interesting; here are some summary points:

  • ‘There has been no emphasis on the developmental dimensions of trauma’ over the years. And not enough “attention has been paid to attachment.”
  • “We are resilient when we collaborate and connect.”
  • He made an interesting observation about ‘shaming the natural’. Reflecting on the PTSD diagnostic process he commented it is natural to be ‘shell-shocked’ when in combat as it is a deeply distressing situation to be in.
  • In the field of trauma, the questions have shifted over the years from, ‘what is wrong with the client’ to ‘what has happened to the client’ to ‘who was there for you when the trauma happened?” (here is the protective element of attachment leading to resilience).
  • When reflecting on the treatments of choice for trauma, CTB was only slightly better than placebo, and EMDR has limited effectiveness (for single-incident trauma).
  • This begs the question: what treatments are effective for Complex Developmental Trauma (trauma inflicting from within our ‘safe’ attachment systems, which is the majority of our clients and many in the prison system)?
  • Play is one of the answers: “We are mammals who like to play together” (he recommended theraplay, acting in a play/drama, sandtray, music therapy, art therapy, any use of the imagination as a means of healing trauma).
  • Movement is vital for releasing trauma in the body and nervous system (eg. Yoga, tai chi, chi gong, collective singing and dancing, expressive therapies).  Pleasure and play are part of the reward circuitry which can rewire the brain stuck in traumatic loops.

These are just a few points from the pages of notes I took! I could go on and on as I learned so much…. watch this space for more trauma-informed training coming out soon…


Coming up in April: 


The Separation Complex: making sense of how separation impacts our children’s anxiety levels. 

April 8th from 7-9 pm on Zoom

Click here to see the events coming up in the next few months:

Events – Ruth McConnell


Events in May

The Power of Connection 2: Attachment-informed approaches to calming anxiety

May 20th from 9:00-4:00 pm on zoom

In this seminar we examine the underlying dynamics behind anxiety, building on Gordon Neufeld’s Attachment-based developmental approach (presented in the first course Attachment Theory). Neufeld’s model of alarm will be presented, examining how anxiety impacts the body, the mind and relationships. The work of trauma theorists (Schore, Porges, Levine) as well as interpersonal neurobiologist, Seigel, will be integrated with the Neufeld material to provide a holistic approach to dealing with anxiety in our clients.

For complete details and booking, please visit my website under the EVENTS section:

or book directly via Grow for this event:
http://Attachment informed approaches to calming anxiety (grow.co.nz)

Working with Emotions in Psychological Therapy: A 5 step model

May 27th 9:00-12:00 pm on zoom

As psychologists, it is our “bread-and-butter” to work with emotions in our clinical settings. However, that does not mean it is easy or that it comes naturally to us. In our academic training we may not have had much depth of teaching on this issue. In this workshop working with intense emotions will be explored from an Attachment-based psychotherapeutic lens, which places primary importance on the therapeutic relationship for healing and co-regulating emotions that are too hard for the client to handle on their own. Neufeld’s 5 step model of working with emotions from an attachment-based development perspective will be presented as well as recent research from the affective sciences and emotion regulation theory.

This event is hosted by The New Zealand Psychological Society

To purchase tickets click here Event Manager (gecco.co.nz)



I leave you with this inspiring quote:

Go gently

Kia pai tō rā  (Have a nice day)



Dr Ruth Lawson-McConnell  MA PhD (she/her)
NZ Psychological Society #15673
NZ Assoc of Counsellors #37181
Waea pūkoro/Phone (+64)22-640-2941
76b Calliope Road, Stanley Point,
Auckland New Zealand 0624
Web www.ruthmcconnell.com
Īmēra/email therapy@ruthmcconnell.com





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