Trauma Talks

Keynote Presentations

Trauma and Altered States of Consciousness: Toward Restoring the Self
Presenter: Dr. Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD

This lecture will examine the neuroscience, and the related brain/mind/body correlations, underlying five dimensions of consciousness: time, thought, body, emotion, and intersubjectivity. The emergence of the self through the integrated experience of these five dimensions of consciousness and its relationship to the development of major brain networks during childhood and adolescence will also be described. The neuroscience underlying alterations in each of these five dimensions of consciousness frequently observed in various forms of trauma-related psychopathology will be discussed to demonstrate the importance of these dimensions in the healing practice. Clinical case examples will be utilized to illustrate relevant concepts throughout the lecture.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To identify the effects of trauma on five dimensions of consciousness.
  2. To discuss the neurobiology underlying the effects of trauma on five dimensions of consciousness.

The Somatic Narrative in the Treatment of Trauma: A Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Approach
Presenter: Ame Cutler, PhD

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, developed by Dr. Pat Ogden, provides a framework that integrates three realms of experience – somatic, cognitive and emotional. This body-oriented approach emphasizes the critical importance of the somatic dimension when trying to reach memories that are encoded only as sensory fragments or physical patterns that have developed over time in response to traumatic experience. By recognizing these physical manifestations, interventions can be formulated to facilitate the development of new adaptive actions. These alterations in patients’ body responses increase affect regulation and promote integration of the past, thus reducing the impact of trauma deficits on patients’ current realities.

Dr. Cutler will present a practical overview of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and its theories and techniques for working with the body. Drawing on Polyvagal Theory, structural dissociation, attachment, affect regulation theory, and principles of interpersonal neurobiology, this model integrates the key concepts that bridge the brain and body of the patient. Through lecture, video, and brief experiential exercises, she will introduce interventions for working with gestures, movements and postures that reflect and sustain the harmful effects of past trauma.

Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain procedural learning and its effect on affect dysregulation, emotions, and the body in relation to trauma.
  2. Discuss the role of the body in trauma treatment.
  3. Describe somatic interventions for working at the regulatory boundaries of the window of affect tolerance.
  4. Highlight the use of embedded relational mindfulness to enhance affect regulation and allow patients to address past traumatic events without becoming dysregulated.
Women's College Hospital