Seminar Detail

4-Day: 28th Annual International Trauma Conference: Psychological Trauma: Neuroscience, Identity and the Transformation of the Self
4-Day: 28th Annual International Trauma Conference: Psychological Trauma: Neuroscience, Identity and the Transformation of the Self

Where:  BOSTON, MA

When:  Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Main Conference is SOLD OUT for Friday and Saturday.

Walk-ins are welcome for the Pre-Conference Workshops on Wednesday and Thursday.

All four days of the conference are also available via our live video webcast.

Other ways to Register: Call (800) 844-8260  
For almost three decades this conference has examined the evolving knowledge of how trauma affects psychological and biological developmental processes, and how the damage caused by trauma and neglect can be reversed. This year we will explore new frontiers in this work, frontiers that transcend old paradigms of explaining, fixing troublesome behaviors, or administering drugs.

The study of psychological trauma has been accompanied by an explosion of knowledge about how experience shapes the central nervous system and the formation of the self. Developments in the neurosciences, developmental psychopathology and information processing have contributed to our understanding of how brain function is shaped by experience and that life itself can continually transform perception and biology.

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 experiences in childhood, this endeavor has elucidated how certain experiences can “set” psychological expectations and biological selectivity.

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 awareness. Insight and understanding have only a limited influence on the operation of these subcortical processes. 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 and cognition. In this conference we will pay particular attention to physical self-experience, finding one's voice to speak the truth of experience, and the transformative potential of action, mind altering medications and theater.
Conference Director:
Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD

Keynote Speakers
Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD
Wendy d’Andrea, PhD
Alexander McFarlane, MD
Ed Tronick, PhD
Richard C. Schwartz, PhD
Michael Mithoefer, MD
Carol Gilligan,PhD
Stephan Wolpert
Eve Ensler
Cancellation Policy: An administrative fee of $75 is deducted for cancellation. Refund requests must be made in writing, fax or email to PESI, and must be postmarked by May 1, 2017. No refunds will be made thereafter.

The objective of this conference is to present current research findings on how people’s brains, minds, and bodies respond to traumatic experiences; how they regulate emotional and behavioral responses; and the role of relationships in protecting and restoring safety and regulation.

We will explore post-traumatic responses at different developmental levels, as well as the treatment implications of these findings. We also will explore how affect regulation and the interpretation of innocuous stimuli as threats require interventions aimed at restoring active mastery and the capacity to focus on the present. Traumatic memories often are dissociated and may be inaccessible to verbal recall or processing. Therefore, close attention must be paid to the development of inner resources to deal with dysregulation and helplessness, as well as to the careful timing of the exploration and processing of the traumatic past.

  1. Show current research findings on how people’s brains, minds, and bodies respond to traumatic experiences.
  2. Breakdown how they regulate emotional and behavioral responses.
  3. Explain the role of relationships in protecting and restoring safety and regulation.
  4. Examine cutting-edge treatment interventions for various trauma-based symptoms.

Workshop 1: Development Trauma Disorder (DTD): Emerging Science and Best Practices
  • Joseph Spinazzola, PhD; Margaret Blaustein, PhD; Elizabeth Warner, PsyD; the JRI Trauma Drama Ensemble; Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
Workshop 2: Harnessing the Competitive Spirit: Physical Activity, Trauma-Sensitive Coaching & League-Level Play with Traumatized Youth Around the World
  • Lou Bergholz; Sean Rose, M.Ed.; Megan Bartlett, MA


Workshop 3: How to Engage the Body to Disrupt Entrenched Patterns
  • Pat Ogden, PhD
Workshop 4: Synchrony, Music, Rhythms & Voice to Restore Connections, Enhance Imagination, and Create New Possibilities
  • Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD; Amy Speace; Licia Sky; Mary Judd; Robert Spohr; Jose Hidalgo, MD
Workshop 5: The Internal Family System Model: Treating the Long Term Effects of Trauma
  • Richard C. Schwartz, PhD; Michael Mithoefer, MD


Self and Identity in Traumatic Stress: From “Fixation on the Trauma”, to Resuming the Arc of One’s Life
  • Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
Dealing with Unrelenting Threat: Translating the Lessons from the Neuroimaging Lab into Effective Treatment
  • Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD
Trauma, Body and Self: How Physiological Hypoarousal Contributes to Alterations in Identity, Awareness and Agency
  • Wendy D’Andrea, PhD
The Impact of Trauma Over Time: The Need for Stage-Dependent Diagnosis & Treatment of Traumatic Stress
  • Alexander McFarlane, MD


Workshop 1: From the Lab to the Clinic and Back: Integrating Psychophysiological Measurement and Interpretation into Experience and Intervention
  • Wendy D/Andrea, PhD; Friends
Workshop 2: Neurofeedback for Affect Dysregulation and Impairment of Executive Functioning
  • Hilary Hodgdon, PhD; Ainat Rogel, PhD
Workshop 3: Meditation as Trauma Therapy: A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective
  • Peter Bayley, PhD
Workshop 4: Mending Broken Souls: Japanese Kintsugi and the Art of Trauma Therapy
  • Richard Jacobs, PsyD
Workshop 5: Getting In-Touch with Touch: A Powerful Tool for Emotional and Physiological Regulation
  • Elya Steinberg, MD
Workshop 6: The Vestibular Network, Multisensory Integration and Psychotherapeutic Work with Traumatized Children and Adolescents
  • Elizabeth Warner, PsyD; Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD; Sherain Haricharan, PhD


Attachment, Meaning Making & Self-Regulation
  • Ed Tronick, PhD
Ecstasy (MDMA) & Psychedelics: Re-Frame Experience and Change Self-Awareness
  • Michael Mithoefer, MD; Richard C. Schwartz; PhD
Playing to Heal: Sports as Tools for Stabilization, Identity Development and connection
  • Lou Bergholz
Cry Havoc – Theater Play
Over 23 million living veterans have been wired for war but never re-wired to come home: Cry Havoc, a one-person play by a military veteran, seamlessly interweaves Shakespeare’s most famous speeches with personal experience
  • Stephan Wolfert
Transformation Through Theater
  • Eve Ensler; Kevin Coleman; Carol Gilligan, PhD

*Transformative Power of Theater

Aside from presenting the latest advances in neuroscience and the most up-to-date evidence based therapeutic interventions for traumatized children and adults, this conference will highlight the transformative power of theater. Stephan Wolfert will give a live performance of his critically acclaimed Off Broadway play “Cry Havoc”, using Shakespeare’s texts to portray the impact of combat trauma, and Eve Ensler, the author of, among many plays, The Vagina Monologues, and In the Body of the World, will illustrate the liberating effects of giving voice to the traumatized body.


Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D., is a clinical psychiatrist who has studied the impact and resolution of trauma on human beings for over 30 years. His research has ranged from developmental impact of trauma to neuroimaging and from memory processes to the use of EMDR and theater groups in PTSD. He is professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and medical director of the Trauma Center in Boston, where he also serves as director of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Complex Trauma Network. He is past president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. He has taught at universities and hospitals throughout the world. He is author of over a hundred scientific articles, Psychological Trauma and co-editor of Traumatic Stress.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Bessel van der Kolk is a professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine. He is the medical director of the Trauma Center in Boston. He receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Nonfinancial: Bessel van der Kolk has no relevant nonfinancial relationship to disclose.
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