Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

The Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc (ATN) is very excited to announce that Dr. Bessel van der Kolk as our special guest speaker at the 4th Annual Creating Trauma Sensitive Schools Conference, Feb 15-18, 2021. He will speak on Monday, February 15 from 3:30 to 5:00 PM Eastern Time.

Dr. van der Kolk has spent his career studying how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences. He has translated emerging findings from neuroscience and attachment research to develop and study a range of treatments for traumatic stress in children and adults.

He may be best known as the author of the New York Times best seller, The Body Keeps the Score . This is the inspiring story of how a group of therapists and scientists— together with their courageous and memorable patients—has struggled to integrate recent advances in brain science, attachment research, and body awareness into treatments that can free trauma survivors from the tyranny of the past. 

In 1984, Dr. van der Kolk set up one of the first clinical/research centers in the US dedicated to study and treatment of traumatic stress in civilian populations. This center has trained numerous researchers and clinicians specializing in the study and treatment of traumatic stress. They have been continually funded to research the impact of traumatic stress and effective treatment interventions.

He did the first studies on the effects of SSRIs on PTSD; was a member of the first neuroimaging team to investigate how trauma changes brain processes, and did the first research linking BPD and deliberate self-injury to trauma and neglect in early childhood.

Much of Dr. van der Kolk’s research has focused on how trauma has a different impact at different stages of development, and that disruptions in care-giving systems have additional deleterious effects that need to be addressed for effective intervention.

In order to promote a deeper understanding of the impact of childhood trauma and to foster the development and execution of effective treatment interventions, he initiated the process that led to the establishment of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), a Congressionally mandated initiative that now funds approximately 150 centers specializing in developing effective treatment interventions, and implementing them in a wide array of settings, from juvenile detention centers to tribal agencies, nationwide.

He has focused on studying treatments that stabilize physiology, increase executive functioning and help traumatized individuals to feel fully alert to the present. This has included an NIMH funded study on EMDR and a NCCAM funded study of yoga.

​Dr. van der Kolk’s efforts have resulted in the establishment of the Trauma Center, consisting of a well-trained clinical team specializing in the treatment of children and adults with histories of child maltreatment. *

Dr. van der Kolk’s presentation is entitled:

How Early Trauma and Neglect Shape Identity and Your Map of the World: A Guide for Intervention

The function of our brains is to take care of ourselves and to be in sync with each other. When trauma is experienced at a young age, it changes the way the brain processes information and the body engages with the world.

Trauma causes people to be out of sync with their surroundings, in turn affecting their view of themselves and the world around them. 

This course explores how, because of altered biological systems, traumatized people continue to be trapped by their history and react to current experience in a myriad of ways as a replay of the past, and shows ways to break the cycles of re-enactment and suffering. 

*Information about Dr. van der Kolk’s biography was provided by his website: https://www.besselvanderkolk.com/.

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