Louis Cozolino: “Trauma, natural selection and the Devil’s Bargain”
Abstract: Decades ago, Jonas Salk highlighted the double-edged sword of evolution by re- minding us that while natural selection is busy solving the problems of the present, it is also creating the problems of the future. As therapists, we see this manifest in many evolutionary “choices” that have been made to keep our bodies safe, which now make our brains and minds so vulnerable to psychological distress. This de- vil’s bargain is nowhere more apparent than the impact of trauma on the human species. Trauma, especially early in life, impacts the matrix of our neurobiological and psychosocial development in ways that can result in the debilitating symptoms for which victims our help. In this presentation, Dr. Cozolino will explore the deep hi- story of our vulnerability to trauma and leverage evolutionary theory to understand the how’s and why’s of successful treatment.
PANEL: “Trauma, natural selection, epigenetics, resilience and mental health” (Louis Cozolino, Rachel Yehuda, Bessel Van Der Kolk)
Stephen Porges: “Connectdenes as a biological imperative understanding the consequences of trauma, abuse and chronic stress through the lens of the Polivagal Theory”
Abstract: Polyvagal Theory expands our understanding of normal and atypical behavior, mental health, and psychiatric disorders. Polyvagal Theory, by incorporating a developmental perspective, explains how maturation of the autonomic nervous system forms the neural “platform” upon which social behavior and the deve- lopment of trusting relationships are based. The theory explains how reactions to danger and life threat and experiences of abuse and trauma may retune our nervous system to respond to friends, caregivers, and teachers as if they were predators. The theory may help practitioners distinguish the contextual features that trigger defense from those that are calming and support spontaneous social engagement.
Diana Fosha: “Neuroplasticity in Action: Rewiring the Internal Working Models”
Abstract: Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP), one of the fastest growing approaches to working with attachment trauma, has developed a neu- robiologically based psychotherapeutic process with rich, creative, systematic interventions to transform attachment trauma and rewire internal working mo- dels of attachment. It features a 3 factor — relatedness, emotion & transforma- tion– theory of change. Featuring an explicitly empathic, affirming, emotionally engaged therapeutic stance, AEDP is fearless in working with the experience of the patient-therapist attachment, moment-to-moment tracking and processing it rigorously. This presentation will showcase AEDP with its clinical focus on di- rectly translating attachment research into the clinical practice of fostering secure attachment through explicit and experiential work with: 1. here-and-now expe- riences within the therapeutic dyad; 2. receptive affective experiences, of feeling felt, feeling seen, and feeling loved; 3. dyadic affect regulation and processing of unbearable emotions; and 4. dyadic affect regulation and processing of transfor- mational experience. Processing both traumatic and restorative emotional expe- riences to completion, the AEDP process culminates in vitality, energy, and the non-finite positive emotion-fueled spirals of resilience, well-being and creativity that are so highly correlated with health. Making extensive use of videotaped ma- terial from actual psychotherapy sessions to illustrate both affective phenomena and clinical techniques, this presentation will demonstrate specific relational, ex- periential, somato-sensory and transformational strategies for putting neuropla- sticity into moment-to-moment clinical action.
PANEL: “Effects of maltreatment, presence of mental health, brain, body and relationships” (Diana Fosha, Antonio Damasio, Stephen Porges)
Vittorio Gallese: “The impact of prolonged maltreatment and neglect on the physiological mechanisms supporting humans’ social nature: a study of Sierra Leonean street-boys”
Abstract: The development of the human brain is strictly dependent on the type and qua- lity of social relations taking place during an extended period of time. The pre- sent study shows how, following specific impact-trajectories, the exposure to prolonged maltreatment and neglect produces specific alterations in the basic physiological mechanisms supporting human social nature. In two groups of Sierra Leonean street-children and street-boys facial mimicry, and the vagal au- tonomic regulation to others’ facial expressions of negative emotions appeared to be significantly altered. Furthermore, results demonstrated a different level of impairment between street-children and street-boys exposed to maltreatment and neglect for different time. The impact-trajectory of maltreatment and neglect time exposure – a discriminative variable of protracted traumatic events in general – on facial mimicry and vagal regulation was further investigated in a longitudinal study involving a large group of street-boys from the age of 9 to 18 years. Results demonstrated that longer time exposure enhanced incoherent facial mimicry and ineffective vagal regulation in response to negative facial expressions. Importan- tly, a compensatory vagal recruitment was evidenced during the first years of maltreatment. The longitudinal study sheds new light on the natural patterns of resilience and chronicity, hence providing clues for coherent rehabilitative inter- ventions.
Daniel Siegel: “Presence of mind, health in body and relationships”
Abstract: In this presentation Dr. Siegel will explore the nature of presence, the state of re- ceptive awareness that has been empirically shown to improve both relational and physiological well-being. Presence can be cultivated through a range of practices, and can be seen to support a clinician’s resilience in the face of working with those who have experienced trauma. For the person who has had trauma in their lives, the open state of presence may be challenged by the repeated intrusion of memory and emotion related to the traumatic events of the past. Working with presence cultivates well-being and resilience in both clinician and client, a win-win situation.
Robin Shapiro: “Ego State Interventions for Self-Destructive clients”
Abstract: This practical talk contains a brief introduction to ego state therapy for dissociative and non-dissociative clients, a simple method for assessing and treating suicidal and self-destructive capacities, and a way to bring the resources and care-giving capacities of the “oldest-wisest selves” or ANPs to the client’s entire system.
PANEL:“Neuroplasticity, brain, body, feelings and psychotherapy of trauma” (Vittorio Gallese, Robin Shapiro, Daniel Siegel)