March 2024 news

Kia ora friends and colleagues,

This certainly has been a busy season of conferences, event planning and trips away with colleagues. The Neufeld Aotearoa team welcomed Dr Deborah MacNamara to Christchurch and Auckland and we had a fabulous time of learning deep truths about what it means to be nourished: how hunger for attachment and food are interconnected. When a child is not attuned to at both those levels it activates alarm, proximity seeking instincts and huge frustration that may come out as aggression or off-putting behaviour.

As part of the events we had a Professionals Day and I was lined up to deliver The Separation Complex seminar, but due to last minute rescheduling the seminar was cancelled. So I am delivering it online for anyone who would like to join. See the details below.


The Separation Complex: making sense of how separation impacts our mental wellbeing

The Separation Complex is a term coined by Dr Gordon Neufeld to help us understand how separation is a huge threat to attachment, fueling our children’s alarm systems leading to attentional, behavioural and emotional problems in the short and long term. So how do we avoid this dilemma and keep our children closer helping them to come back to psychological rest? 

Our children are facing more separation from mature caring adults in their lives than ever before. Closeness reduces children’s alarm, bringing them to psychological rest, but when we look at the anxiety statistics in our children/youth (tamariki/rangatahi) we realise that something big is going on under the surface. In this session examine the multiple factors in modern life which contribute to this growing SEPARATION CRISIS leading to heightened alarm/anxiety in our children and youth. We will also address the underlying emotions triggered by too much separation as well as examine the interventions to strengthen the attachments by giving children more ways to hold on to connection even when apart.

Making sense of the Separation Complex will help us prevent our children experiencing too much alarming separation, by bringing them closer, giving them ways to hold on and coming to deeper psychological rest. 

For event details and tickets click here

April 8th from 7-9 pm on Zoom

Understanding Trauma from an Attachment-informed lens – Professional Development training

It was a delight to present the first of this two-part workshop to a group of counsellors in Auckland. We examined trauma through an attachment informed developmental lens based on Dr Gordon Neufeld’s model of how attachment develops. Originally attachment theory was a trauma-based psychopathology model but in recent years has been re-conceptualised as a regulatory theory. Attachment is framed as a system of emotional regulation as well as nervous system regulation between organisms (parent/caregiver to child or counsellor/ psychologist to client).  Trauma dysregulates our bodies and nervous systems so the role of an attachment figure or a counsellor is to help co-regulate until the child or client can self-regulate, and come back into a window of tolerance that allows their bodies to refocus on thriving rather than barely surviving.

Part 2 is coming in October …. watch this space or if you are interested in me coming to present this to your team, please email me:

Grow on Demand courses

I am delighted to announce that Grow is now hosting my online courses so if you are interested in learning more about Attachment theory applied to clinical practice, here is a self-paced online recorded course for you to do at your own speed and depth of learning, entitled The Power of Connection: Applying Attachment theory to Clinical Practice.

The Power of Connection 101: Applying Attachment Theory to Clinical Practice

This seminar is for counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists, anyone working in mental health who wants to understand the relational foundations of mental health and wellbeing and the healing power of working with attachments.

This course is the prerequisite to attending or listening to the other ones that follow. Click here for more details and to purchase this 4.5 hr course.

The Power of Connection 201: Attachment-informed approaches to calming anxiety

This seminar examines the root causes of anxiety, especially seen in our children/tamariki and young people/rangatahi (but the insights gained are applicable for all clients in your practice who struggle with anxiety). It presents an attachment-informed approach to making sense of and calming anxiety in our nervous systems.

For all the details and to book please contact GROW

I hope you can enjoy a bit more of the summer weather before we move into autumn and winter to follow.

I leave you with this inspiring excerpt from one of my favourite poets, Mary Oliver.

Happy Easter!

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