A Trauma Therapy Program for Children in Conflict Zones

If a single traumatic experience can change a person’s life for years to come, what must an average day be like for someone who faces traumatic events on a routine basis? For people affected by war or natural disaster, where entire populations from infants to the elderly have been exposed to so much suffering, what can we possibly put in place to help them cope? Researchers wanted to see whether the Teaching Recovery Techniques (TRT) program could be one effective resource for this population. TRT is a skills-based cognitive behavioral therapy program that has significantly reduced symptoms of PTSD in…

Read More »


Reframing a Patient’s Response to Trauma so They Can Heal

When a trauma occurs, our bodies simply react. But sometimes, when the body immobilizes in the face of trauma, this shutdown response can leave some trauma survivors (and even their loved ones) wondering why they didn’t “do” more to protect or defend themselves . . . . . . and often, this feeling of helplessness or “failure” that results only gets in the way of healing. But according to Stephen Porges, PhD, there’s a way to help patients reframe their perspective so they can shake off the lingering sense of shame that sometimes accompanies unresolved trauma. Check out the video…

Read More »


Rethinking Trauma: The Third Wave of Trauma Treatment

As someone who’s been practicing for a while, I’ve seen our view on the treatment of trauma go through substantial development. Our research, theory and treatments have all advanced considerably in the last 40 years. And as I reflect upon this, I’m seeing 3 waves in the evolution of our outlook. Looking back at when I first began to practice (in the late 70’s) our understanding of trauma was really quite limited. Of course we recognized the fight / flight response ever since Hans Selye introduced the notion back in the 50’s. But our prevailing treatment option was talk therapy….

Read More »


Epigenetics Might Help Us Predict How the Brain Responds to Threats

If you could predict how well your clients might be able to deal with stress, just based on a blood or saliva sample, would that change your treatment approach? There’s a specific gene that’s been getting a lot of attention lately because it affects how the brain processes serotonin – a chemical created inside the body believed to be responsible for maintaining mood balance. The serotonin transporter gene codes for a molecule that regulates the amount of serotonin signaling between brain cells, and it’s a key target for the treatment of mood disorders. It’s also well known for its involvement…

Read More »


Brain Science and Meditation: How to Improve the Brain

Stress is no joke. Aside from the sleepless nights and lots of tension, stress can also have a range of negative health effects. So how do you reduce stress? A team of researchers at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine started looking for answers. They gathered 18 patients who had received a diagnosis of breast cancer but were not in active treatment. Arguing that this was a population of people who were under high stress, researchers randomly assigned the patients to two different groups. One group received a mindfulness-based art therapy course, while the other received an education program…

Read More »


How Mindfulness Works to Help the Brain Manage Pain

Can meditation help you feel less pain? What if one week of short meditation classes could change the way your brain perceives pain? Fadel Zeidan, PhD, and his colleagues at Wake Forest University wanted to find out how mindfulness meditation affects pain reception. Specifically, they looked at the areas of the brain responsible for constructing the experience of pain, such as the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and anterior insula. Researchers performed MRI exams on 18 subjects while they applied a series of neutral and painful stimuli. They then asked subjects to focus on the sensations of their breath while…

Read More »