Childhood Trauma – Retraining the Brain

Neuroscientists have believed that the brain’s structure was largely unchanging and unchangeable. The only likely major changes in the brain were considered negative-neural degradation or destruction caused by injury, disease, or old age.

Recent research finds that most areas of the brain are “plastic”, capable of reorganizing themselves, growing new cells and neural networks, and making other areas obsolete in response to experience.

In an article “Retraining the Brain: Harnessing our Neural plasticity”, Janina Fisher PhD from The Trauma Centre outlines the relationship between childhood trauma and retraining the brain.

Experience and environment produce changes in the brain, for better and for worse, often promoting stubborn frustrating patterns of behavior that are hard to shift and result in many of the symptoms clients bring into therapy.

A principle of neuroplasticity articulated by Schwartz and Sharon Begley in their 2002 book, The Mind and the Brain, is that neuroplasticity is induced by changes in the amount and kind of sensory stimulation reaching the brain. This means, simply and obviously, that repetition of old, habitual thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and movements won’t change the brain, but will only reinforce established neural networks and behaviors.

To change the brain, something new has to happen: we must interrupt and inhibit rigid patterns, and experiment with new kinds and amounts of sensory stimulation. By consciously selecting the objects of our attention, we can stimulate neuronal firing in the areas we wish to restructure. The brain retains the new learning by sustaining attention to the new stimulus.

These processes will be further outlined in Janina Fisher’s forthcoming 2-day Australian workshops. Her professional mission has been to bring this understanding of trauma to both clients and their therapists.

The workshops are being held by Byron Clinic in Brisbane, Melbourne & Sydney in March 2017.

Book Online now.

Janina’s full article can be found online at

Janina Fisher in Australia, March 2017

Byron Clinic is proud to announce that international trauma expert Janina Fisher is presenting a series of workshops in Brisbane (27 & 28 February, 2017), Melbourne (2 & 3 March, 2017) and Sydney (6 & 7 March 2017). To purchase tickets online click here.

“Super saver” registration rates are available for a limited time. Book early to avoid disappointment.

» Book online here

…as much as I have had the privilege of being taught by and working alongside the giants in the field of psychological trauma: the most powerful and gifted teachers I have are my patients. They have given me a window into the inner experience of the legacy of trauma, taught me what always to say and what never to say and helped to validate or disprove what the experts and theorists were claiming. It has been a privilege to learn with them and from them…

Janina Fisher, PhD