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New Frontiers in Trauma Treatment

  • 12/12/2016
  • 12/13/2016
  • San Francisco, CA

During the past decade an enormous amount has been learned about the differences between memories of everyday experiences and those of overwhelming events. These memories are different, depending on the age at which the trauma occurs and the social support systems of the victims.
Recent neuroimaging studies suggest where in the brain these memories are stored and what the mechanisms might be of the recovery of traumatic memories. While ordinary memory is an active and constructive process, traumatic memories are stored in ways that are different from the memories of everyday experience, namely as dissociated sensory and perceptual fragments of the experience.
Using both research studies and clinical examples, Dr. van der Kolk will present data on the nature of traumatic memories and will examine the implications of this knowledge for clinical practice. He will also review appropriate standards for approaching traumatic memories in clinical work.
Dr. van der Kolk will explore the effects of trauma on cognitive, psychological and interpersonal functioning. He will review the research on the profound effects of trauma on cognition, affect regulation, and on the development of `self` and interactions with others. We will discuss how trauma and disruptions in attachment bonds affect the development of people`s identity, and how this is expressed socially as difficulties in affect modulation, destructive behavior against self and others and in negotiating intimacy.

Today Dr. van der Kolk will review the effects of childhood trauma on development of self-esteem, the capacity to identify and negotiate personal needs, and the ability to relate effectively with others. The balance of the day will be spent on the exploration of treatment alternatives.
In the wake of recent insights into the neurobiology of trauma, a range of new approaches to treatment have been developed. Research on the effect of trauma on affect regulation, perception and other brain functions inevitably leads to conclusions regarding treatment that can be considered fundamental shifts from earlier therapeutic paradigms. reoccupation with the trauma and learned helplessness require a variety of interventions aimed at restoring active mastery and the capacity to attend to current experience
Given the fragility of the interpersonal bonds following disruptions of trust, issues of empathy, interpersonal repetition and boundaries within the therapeutic relationship require scrupulous attention. In this context we will examine the role of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Model Mugging and therapeutic work programs.
Since traumatic memories often are dissociated and may be inaccessible to verbal recall or processing, attention should also be paid to the somatic re-experiencing of trauma-related sensations and affects which may serve as engines for continuing maladaptive behaviors. Hypnosis, body-oriented therapies and EMDR are often helpful here. Dr. van der Kolk will present research data evaluating each set of interventions, show videotaped clinical examples, and discuss the integration of these approaches during different stages of treatment.

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