Can Traumatic Memories Be Changed?

Experiences that are distressing, painful and, perhaps, even traumatic are unavoidable in life. But are there ways we can work with people to prevent memories of traumatic events from developing into PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)? One possibility that’s being investigated for accomplishing this is a method called “updating.” This approach uses verbal techniques to change how traumatic memories are consolidated in the brain. Basically, “updating” tries to decrease the conditioned fear response that can lead to PTSD. You see, there’s a period of time known as the “consolidation window,” when fear memories are being established and strengthened in the brain….

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Neuroplasticity and Trauma: Can Brain Science Give Us a New Perspective on Healing?

The brain can be a powerful ally. Our brains are always looking out for us. They’re wired to help us survive – alerting us to threats and ramping up our amygdala to help us take action. But that same survival trigger makes healing from trauma difficult, says Pat Ogden, PhD. In fact, the very systems that are designed to keep us safe can actually stimulate trauma over and over again. Knowing how to interrupt this cycle is key to treating trauma, and Pat will show us how this Wednesday. Here’s a preview clip – I think you’ll find it fascinating,…

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Coping with Childhood Trauma: A Strategy for Overcoming Increased Risk for HIV

Why is it that 33% to 53% of HIV-infected people have histories of childhood sexual abuse? Many symptoms commonly found among survivors of childhood sexual abuse, such as helplessness, low self-esteem, dissociation, denial, and self-destructiveness are also often seen in conjunction with HIV risk behavior. Studies show that childhood sexual abuse is associated with avoidant coping, which can lead to increased traumatic symptoms. So perhaps changing the coping strategy of people who experienced childhood sexual abuse could be useful? Duke University professor Kathleen J. Sikkema, PhD conducted a study to examine whether a coping intervention could reduce traumatic stress and…

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Trauma’s Impact on the Brain

When a traumatic event triggers our internal alarm system, the body goes into fight, flight, or freeze . . . . . . but what happens in the brain during trauma? According to Dan Siegel, MD, there are two key chemical reactions to trauma (and one can play a role in actually shrinking part of the brain). Check out the video clip (below) for more – it’s just 4 minutes. Click here to sign up Knowing how trauma affects the brain can enhance our interventions for helping patients heal from a traumatic experience. If you want to learn more about…

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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….

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Neurofeedback Training for Trauma Treatment

Yesterday in the Rethinking Trauma webinar series, I had a conversation with Sebern Fisher, MA. Sebern is an expert in the use of neurofeedback and has seen tremendous success in implementing this revolutionary technology with patients. Some of the questions that have come up repeatedly are, “How do I get trained on using neurofeedback with patients? What equipment do I need?” Because I’m a bit of a techno-phobe myself, I asked Sebern about the training that’s involved and the kind of equipment she uses. And, since so many have asked, I wanted to share what she had to say –…

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