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Frontiers of Trauma Treatment - Bessel van der Kolk, MD

Frontiers of Trauma Treatment - Bessel van der Kolk, MD

SKU: BVDKolk-InPerson
$725.00 Regular Price
$675.00Sale Price

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, rhythms, 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

  • About

    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.

  • Course Title

    Frontiers of Trauma Treatment
  • Course Agenda


    • Trauma and developmental psychopathology. The acquisition of affect regulation, attachment, and psychopathology. The breakdown of information processing in trauma.


    • Affective neuroscience for thoughtful clinicians. The nature of the threat response, attention, and concentration. Lessons from neuroimaging and psychophysiology.


    • Recognition and treatment of survival action patterns. Assessment,  treatment planning, stabilization techniques, and trauma processing.  Neural plasticity and rewiring brain circuitry.


    • Specific stabilization and trauma processing techniques, including  EMDR, touch, yoga, improvisational techniques, chi qong in the  treatment of learned helplessness and dissociation.


    • From fight/flight to being alive to the present integration of traumatic memories, including group and theater approaches.

  • Course Objectives

    Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

    1. Summarize basic neurological and developmental effects of trauma

    2. Describe the acquisition of affect regulation

    3. Determine the breakdown of information processing in trauma

    4. Describe the threat response

    5. List three physical symptoms of psychological trauma

    6. Summarize the neuroscientific effects of trauma on attention and concentration

    7. Evaluate current neuroimaging research

    8. Describe survival action patterns

    9. Explain assessment and treatment planning stages

    10. List at least three treatment techniques for stabilization

    11. Identify uses of EMDR, yoga, touch and group and theatre in resolving trauma

    12. Describe different trauma processing techniques

    13. Describe the observation of videotape of trauma processing techniques

    14. Explain learned helplessness and dissociation as it applies to trauma

    15. Describe successful integration of traumatic memories in terms of physical mastery