Bessel van der Kolk Trauma Workshops: 2015

The Body Keeps the Score

A series of two-day workshops in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney held in March 2015

Bessel van der Kolk at

Bessel’s workshops may have finished for now but he’s online at, along with other renowned figures such as Janina Fisher and Pat Ogden.

In March 2015, Byron Clinic presented Dr Bessel van der Kolk in a series of training workshops held in Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane.

Psychological trauma causes significant damage to self-organization and perception, which is reflected in measurable alterations in brain function and structure. As a result, survivors lose the capacity to render the experience in words, endure unrelenting hyper- and hypo-arousal. They lose a sense of continuous inner presence and abiding calm.

In these workshops, Dr van der Kolk investigated specific changes in organization of self and perception that result from severe trauma, abuse and neglect. At the cutting edge of research in trauma, he examines measurable alterations of brain function and structure – as well as specific clinical interventions that may reverse or compensate for such alterations. He is currently working with a number of leading trauma researchers on adaptation and resolution, and shares the very latest findings from this work at these workshops.

Over the past few years, new insights into trauma’s impact on body, brain and relationship have spawned a range of new approaches to treatment. Many of these modalities can be considered fundamental shifts from earlier therapeutic paradigms.

In these workshops, Dr van der Kolk examined how neuroscience research has elucidated how, in the course of development, children learn to regulate their arousal systems and to focus on what is most relevant. We then examined how trauma, abuse and neglect derail these processes and affect brain development. Since traumatic imprints are stored in subcortical brain areas and are largely divorced from verbal recall, a central focus needs to be to the somatic experiencing of trauma-related sensations and affects. These deep imprints are the engines for continuing maladaptive behaviours.

Fixation on the trauma and learned helplessness require interventions aimed at restoring active mastery and the capacity to attend to the here-and-now.

With the aid of videotaped demonstrations and experiential demonstrations of affect regulation techniques, we examined the role of body oriented therapies in resolving the traumatic past and discuss the integration of these approaches during different stages of treatment.

The 2015 Workshops covered the following topics:

  • What is trauma and what are its effects on mind, brain, families, and society
  • Neuroscience: How does the brain deal with stress and trauma, Self- regulation, attachment, rhythms, attunement, mirror neurons; neglect, abuse and invisibility
  • Trauma and development; Developmental Trauma Disorder
  • What does a chronically traumatized brain look like and what does that mean for treatment
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Somatic therapies, Sensory Integration and meditation/mindfulness
  • EMDR and trauma processing
  • Power of movement and action: yoga & martial arts
  • Neuro feedback
  • Theatre & Psychodrama
  • Trauma and society – implications for policy

This event has passed and the information below is for reference purposes only. View our upcoming events here.

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