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* Earn Up to 15 CE credits / hours 
* Psychologists: Please see the CE section and agenda below for information regarding available credits. 

Frontiers of Trauma Treatment

Bessel van der Kolk, MD

July 8-12, 2024

Monday - Friday: 9:00a.m. - 12:30p.m. EDT | 30-Minute Break Daily

15-Hour Course |  Delivery Format: In-Person or Live-Online

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Course Description

Most people who seek psychiatric care have histories of trauma, chaos, or neglect. The past two decades have seen an explosion of knowledge about how experience shapes the brain and the formation of the self. This evolving science has had profound implications for our understanding of what constitutes effective intervention. Sadly, most of the knowledge about how trauma affects the brain and the development of the entire human organism remains to find its way into the curricula of professional schools.


Advances in the neurosciences, attachment research, and information processing show how brain function is shaped by experience and that life itself can continually transform perception and biology. The memory imprints of trauma(s) are held in physical sensations, bodily states, and habitual action patterns. This causes the entire human organism to continuously react to current experiences as a replay of the past.


The earliest form of trauma treatment was to tell other people the story of what had happened and to find support and validation. However, validation, insight, and understanding are rarely enough to deal with unspeakable, intolerable, and unacceptable traumatic experience. Trauma causes people to remain trapped in the past by leaving deep, ongoing imprints on the entire organism–from their immune systems to their internal physical rhythms. Neither words nor compassion suffice in accessing these deep imprints on body and brain.


To overcome the tyranny of the past, one needs to learn to befriend one’s damaged inner world and learn to deal with initially overwhelming sensations and arousal levels. Hence, recovery requires facing the imprint of trauma on the self as helpless, enraged, betrayed, ashamed, and endangered. Healing involves dealing with the defensive efforts that helped ensure survival but that now keep people stuck. The cultivation of a deep sense of physical safety and physical mastery is a prerequisite for initiating new ways of perceiving reality and promoting new behavior patterns and requires effective ways to deal with the fragmented memories of the past.


Recovery means bringing the traumatic experience to an end in every aspect of the human organism. In this course, we will explore the role of yoga, mindfulness, EMDR, neurofeedback, sensorimotor therapy, martial arts, Internal Family Systems Therapy, and theater to help mind, brain, and body to live fully in the present, rather than staying trapped in the traumatic past.

Course Agenda (click to expand)

Course Objectives (click to expand)

About the Instructor

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Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Bessel van der Kolk has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations. He receives a speaking honorarium from MAK Continuing Education, LLC, Cape Cod Institute.

Non-financial: Bessel van der Kolk has no relevant non-financial relationships with ineligible organizations.

Bessel van der Kolk, MD, spends his career studying how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences, and has translated emerging findings from neuroscience and attachment research to develop and study a range of treatments for traumatic stress in children and adults. In 1984, he set up one of the first clinical/research centers in the US dedicated to study and treatment of traumatic stress in civilian populations, which has trained numerous researchers and clinicians specializing in the study and treatment of traumatic stress, and which has been continually funded to research the impact of traumatic stress and effective treatment interventions. He did the first studies on the effects of SSRIs on PTSD; was a member of the first neuroimaging team to investigate how trauma changes brain processes, and did the first research linking BPD and deliberate self-injury to trauma and neglect in early childhood. Much of his research has focused on how trauma has a different impact at different stages of development, and that disruptions in care-giving systems have additional deleterious effects that need to be addressed for effective intervention. In order to promote a deeper understanding of the impact of childhood trauma and to foster the development and execution of effective treatment interventions, he initiated the process that led to the establishment of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), a Congressionally mandated initiative that now funds approximately 150 centers specializing in developing effective treatment interventions, and implementing them in a wide array of settings, from juvenile detention centers to tribal agencies, nationwide. He has focused on studying treatments that stabilize physiology, increase executive functioning and help traumatized individuals to feel fully alert to the present. This has included an NIMH funded study on EMDR and NCCAM funded study of yoga, and, in recent years, the study of neurofeedback to investigate whether attentional and perceptual systems (and the neural tracks responsible for them) can be altered by changing EEG patterns. His efforts resulted in the establishment of Trauma Center (now the Trauma Research Foundation) that consisted of a well-trained clinical team specializing in the treatment of children and adults with histories of child maltreatment, that applied treatment models that are widely taught and implemented nationwide, a research lab that studied the effects of neurofeedback and MDMA on behavior, mood, and executive functioning, and numerous trainings nationwide to a variety of mental health professional, educators, parent groups, policy makers, and law enforcement personnel.

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Hear more from 

Bessel van der Kolk, MD

00:00 / 01:04

What Alumni are Saying...

"Presenter was outstanding. Candid, clearly knowledgeable and direct in offering meaningful information." - 2022 Participant

“Superb, thought provoking. Very valuable personally and professionally." - 2022 Participant

"Bessel is brilliant and has so much to share." - 2022 Participant

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