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Bessel A. van der Kolk's 29th Annual Trauma Conference: Main Conference Day 1
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The study of trauma has probably been the single most fertile area in helping to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship among the emotional, cognitive, social and biological forces that shape human development. Starting with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults and expanding into early attachment and overwhelming attachment and social experiences in childhood (“Developmental Trauma”), this endeavor has elucidated how certain experiences can “set” psychological expectations and biological selectivity.

When addressing the problems of traumatized people who, in a myriad of ways, continue to react to current experience as a replay of the past, there is a need for therapeutic methods that do not depend exclusively on drugs or cognition. We have learned that most experience is automatically processed on a subcortical level of the brain; i.e., by “unconscious” interpretations that take place outside of conscious awareness. Insight and understanding have only a limited influence on the operation of these subcortical processes, but synchrony, movement and reparative experiences do.

Workshops included in this recording:

  • Trauma and Embodied Cognition - Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
  • The Effects of Traumatic Stress on Self-Experience: Balance, Perception & Sensory Integration - Sherain Harricharan, PhD, Elizabeth Warner, PsyD & Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD
  • The Psychological Processing of Traumatic Experience: Self-Awareness, Interoception & Memory Processing - How (and How Well) Does EMDR Actually Work? - Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD, Matthew Sanford & Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
  • The Craving Mind: Why We Get Stuck in Habits & How Mindfulness Helps Us Get Unstuck - Judson Brewer, MD, PhD
  • Panel Discussion & Questions
  • The Emergence of a Polygonal-Informed Therapy: How Music & Voice Contribute to Healing Following Trauma - Stephen W. Porges, PhD
  • Internal Family Systems and the Psychotherapy of Self-Leadership: Self and Identity - Richard C. Schwartz, PhD
Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D.

Bessel A. Van der Kolk, M.D., is a clinician, researcher and teacher in the area of post-traumatic stress.  His work integrates developmental, neurobiological, psychodynamic and interpersonal aspects of the impact of trauma and its treatment.

Dr. van der Kolk and his various collaborators have published extensively on the impact of trauma on development, such as dissociative problems, borderline personality and self-mutilation, cognitive development, memory, and the psychobiology of trauma.  He has published over 150 peer reviewed scientific articles on such diverse topics as neuroimaging, self-injury, memory, neurofeedback, Developmental Trauma, yoga, theater and EMDR. 

He is founder and medical director of the Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts.  The Trauma Center consists of a well-trained clinical team specializing in the treatment of children and adults with histories of child maltreatment, that applies treatment models that are widely taught and implemented nationwide.  He also created the Trauma Research Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Trauma Center, that is organized to promote clinical, scientific and educational projects.

His most recent 2014 New York Times best seller, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Treatment of Trauma, transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring – specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust.  He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, somatically based therapies, EMDR, psychodrama, play, yoga, and other therapies.

Dr. van der Kolk is the past president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and professor of psychiatry at Boston University Medical School.  He regularly teaches at conferences, universities, and hospitals around the world.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Bessel van der Kolk is a professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine.  He receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. 
Nonfinancial:  Bessel van der Kolk has no relevant nonfinancial relationship to disclose.

Elizabeth Warner, Psy.D.

Elizabeth Warner, Psy.D., has had a psychotherapy practice in Brookline for the last 20 years. Her specialization is in the area of child development, and the treatment of children and families. Special interests include adoption and adoptive families, the special nature of that attachment and implications for development and the development of new treatments for complex trauma in young children. She spent 15 years working with severely disordered children including traumatized children and their parents, using innovative methodologies and the use of videotape study at the Language & Cognitive Development Center. In addition, she has worked in psychiatric inpatient and outpatient settings at Boston University Medical Center, schools and mental health clinics, providing therapy, teaching and consultation.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Elizabeth Warner is the project director for SMART for children and adolescents at the Trauma Center in Boston.

Nonfinancial: Elizabeth Warner has no relevant nonfinancial relationship to disclose.

Ruth Lanius, MD, Ph.D.

Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry is the director of the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) research unit at the University of Western Ontario. She established the Traumatic Stress Service and the Traumatic Stress Service Workplace Program, services that specialize in the treatment and research of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related comorbid disorders. She currently holds the Harris-Woodman Chair in Mind-Body Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario. 

Her research interests focus on studying the neurobiology of PTSD and treatment outcome research examining various pharmacological and psychotherapeutic methods. She has authored more than 100 published papers and chapters in the field of traumatic stress and is currently funded by several federal funding agencies.  She regularly lectures on the topic of PTSD nationally and internationally. She has recently published a book The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease with Eric Vermetten and Clare Pain.

Stephen Porges, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

Stephen W. Porges, PhD, is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium within the Kinsey Institute.  He holds the position of Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. 

Dr. Porges served as president of both the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences and is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award.  He has published more than 300 peer reviewed scientific papers across several disciplines including anesthesiology, biomedical engineering, critical care medicine, ergonomics, exercise physiology, gerontology, neurology, neuroscience, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, psychometrics, space medicine, and substance abuse.

In 1994 Dr. Porges proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders.

He is the author of The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation (Norton, 2011), The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe (Norton, 2017) and co-editor of Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies (Norton, 2018).

Dr. Porges is also the creator of a music-based intervention, the Safe and Sound Protocol™, which currently is used by more than 1000 therapists to improve spontaneous social engagement, to reduce hearing sensitivities, and to improve language processing, state regulation, and spontaneous social engagement.

Speaker Disclosure:

Financial: Stephen Porges is a Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University; and a professor at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Porges has intellectual property rights, and receives royalties from Integrated Listening Systems (now Unyte). In addition, he holds patent rights licensed to NeuralSolution for the technology embedded in PhysioCam and in technologies embedded in products marketed by Unyte. He is an author for W. W. Norton and receives royalties. Dr. Porges receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Stephen Porges has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.

Richard C. Schwartz, Ph.D., Owner, The Center for Self Leadership

Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., earned his Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy from Purdue University, after which he began a long association with the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and more recently at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, attaining the status of associate professor at both institutions. He is co-author, with Michael Nichols, of Family Therapy: Concepts and Methods, the most widely used family therapy text in the United States.

Dr. Schwartz developed Internal Family Systems in response to clients’ descriptions of experiencing various parts – many extreme – within themselves. He noticed that when these parts felt safe and had their concerns addressed, they were less disruptive and would accede to the wise leadership of what Dr. Schwartz came to call the “Self.” In developing IFS, he recognized that, as in systemic family theory, parts take on characteristic roles that help define the inner world of the clients. The coordinating Self, which embodies qualities of confidence, openness, and compassion, acts as a center around which the various parts constellate. Because IFS locates the source of healing within the client, the therapist is freed to focus on guiding the client’s access to his or her true Self and supporting the client in harnessing its wisdom. This approach makes IFS a non-pathologizing, hopeful framework within which to practice psychotherapy. It provides an alternative understanding of psychic functioning and healing that allows for innovative techniques in relieving clients symptoms and suffering.

In 2000, Richard Schwartz founded The Center for Self Leadership in Oak Park, Illinois. Dr. Schwartz is a featured speaker for many national psychotherapy organizations and a fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and he serves on the editorial boards of four professional journals. He has published four books and over 50 articles about IFS. His books include Internal Family Systems Skills Training Manual (with Frank Anderson, M.D. and Martha Sweezy, Ph.D) (PESI, 2017), Internal Family Systems Therapy (Guilford Press, 1997), Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model (Tarcher, 2001), and The Mosaic Mind (with Regina Goulding) (Trailheads, 2003), as well as Metaframeworks (with Doug Breunlin and Betty Karrer) (Jossey-Bass, 1997). Dr. Schwartz lives and practices in Brookline, MA and is on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard School of Medicine.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Richard Schwartz is the Founder of The Center for Self Leadership. He receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Richard Schwartz is a Fellow and member of the American Association for Marital and Family Therapy.

Matthew Sanford

Matthew Sanford, yoga teacher, founder of Mind Body Solutions, and a paraplegic for the last 39 years.  Sanford is the author of Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence. He teaches people around the US living with trauma, loss, and disability how to re-inhabit their bodies. www.mindbodysolutions.org

Sherain Harricharan, PhD

Sherain Harricharan, PhD, post-doctoral fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario, Canada.

Judson Brewer, MD, PhD

Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, chief, Division of Mindfulness Executive Director, Center for Mindfulness; Associate Professor, Medicine and Psychiatry; University of Massachusetts Medical School; Research Affiliate, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT; author: The Craving Mind.


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