32nd Annual Boston International Trauma Conference: Pre-Conference Events

Psychological Trauma:

Neuroscience, embodiment and the restoration of the self

May 26th - 29th, 2021

We start the conference with a day of two parallel tracks:

Track 1: Expressive Arts

Track 2: Global Trauma Programs

Read more about the options below! Day 2 of the pre-conference only has one track.

Day 1 - OPTIONS

Pre-Conference Events

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Day 1, Track 1

Expressive Arts:

9:30 am - 1:30 pm EST: Workshop 1 - Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, and Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD - From Lab Bench to Bedside: Translating Trauma Research into Innovative Treatments

Summary: We now have a growing foundation of brain-wise, multisensory data on how trauma impacts both mind and body. But progress has been slow when it comes to translating this rich data into protocols that practitioners can actually apply to their work. This presentation begins with a discussion of current findings on the default mode network, interoception, sensory integration, and somatosensory maps and similar studies, focusing on how they can inform innovative and sound clinical practice strategies. Because this session will include actual hands-on practices, participants will experience several strategies that translate “lab data” into expressive, sensory-based interventions. Please have white paper and basic drawing materials [felt markers, oil pastels, or colored pencils] on hand and be ready to actively engage and explore several approaches during this session. We will conclude with time to discuss next steps and how we can continue to translate emerging data into effective methods in our work with traumatic stress.

2:00 - 6:00 pm EST: Workshop 2 - Lorraine Freedle, PhD - Stories in the Sand: Psychocultural pathways to healing trauma during community crisis

Summary: For several hundred thousand years human beings have shared stories to transmit knowledge, preserve culture, and to draw meaning from their life experiences. Cultural stories emerge in times of community crisis and can play an important role in reducing traumatic distress and improving resilience. Used effectively around the world in disaster response, Sandplay Therapy provides a unique, culturally-sensitive and trauma-informed platform for storytelling that does not depend on verbal language. The enriched sensory, relational, and symbolic nature of sandplay safely and organically brings forth healing stories from the deepest level of our psyche, soul and nervous system.

This workshop explores advances in research and practical applications of Sandplay Therapy in the treatment of trauma for children, adults, and communities in crisis. Sand images from field research during the 2018 Kilauea volcanic eruption on Hawai’i Island and the Covid-19 pandemic will elucidate concepts. Participants will also view an award-winning documentary film, Fire and Sand to further explore how cultural stories provide a critical resource for healing from trauma.

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Day 1, Track 2

Global Trauma Programs:

9:30 am - 1:30 pm EST: Workshop 3 - Anita Shankar, Ilya Yacevich - Making the Invisible Visible: Addressing Power, Privilege, and Oppression in Trauma-Informed Practice

Summary: Nairobi, Kenya, based Global Trauma Project (GTP) works between and within communities to support trauma-informed practice, particularly within under-resourced settings. Central to their work is confronting the reality of systems of oppression and strengthening local leadership. In this interactive workshop, GTP will introduce Trauma-Informed Community Empowerment (TICE) - an evidence-based framework for supporting community providers. Using case examples from Eastern Africa, Greece, and the USA, participants will explore how systems of power and privilege continue to impact trauma healing initiatives. Participants will identify strategies for implementing programs that are not only "trauma-informed," but also community- developed and owned, and how this is critical to maximizing longer-term impacts. This workshop is appropriate for those interested in organizational/ program development; community work; research; and clinical services. You can learn more about our work here:GTP Video: South Sudan Trauma-Healing Initiative (Juba): https://vimeo.com/242930303 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/globaltraumaproject/

2:00 - 6:00 pm EST: Workshop 4 - Michael Niconchuk, Vivian Khedari, Alaaedin Al-Ghazawi - Working in Syrian Refugee Communities in Jordan - Storytelling, stigma, and meaning-making during times of injustice: rethinking community mental health for refugees, migrants, and survivors of conflict

Summary: This presentation will discuss the unique challenges of community mental health work in contexts of stigma, conflict, and continued injustice. It will explore the cultural and regional history of mental health in the Middle East, with a focus on how conflict in this region has led to trauma for refugees, migrants, survivors of conflict, and others and has also contributed to insufficient models of care for trauma-affected populations in the region. Using the Middle East and forced migrants as a lens to explore alternative systems of healing, Beyond Conflict will share their experience of a cross-cultural and innovative method for community mental health, using storytelling, neurobiology education, and emotion regulation, and will explore further innovative tools for assessing mental health and the impact of mental health programs in non-Western communities.

Day 2

Thursday May 27th, 2021

Day 2 (One track only)

9:30 am - 1:30 pm EST: Workshop 5 - Rick Doblin, Robin Carhart Harris, Michael Mithoefer, Sue Carter, Philip Wolfson, Andrew Penn, Richard Schwartz, Anne Wagner, Jim Hopper, Libby Call, Susan Walker, Francis Guerra, Michael Alpert, Bessel van der Kolk - The use of mind-altering substances- MDMA, psilocybin, and marijuana for treating PTSD and other mental distress.

Summary: For the first time in over four decades, researchers are returning to examining the therapeutic benefits of mind altering substances, including MDMA (ecstasy), psilocybin (mushrooms), marijuana and LSD. In the 1970s the study of all psychedelics was criminalized in the US, despite emerging evidence of their medical value. Over the past decade, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Research (MAPS) has helped to revive psychedelic research, sponsoring studies across the United States and around the world, including MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, and end-of-life anxiety. The results have been very positive, lasting over 72 months of follow-up, with few adverse effects. Psychedelics may promote a deepening and acceleration of the psychotherapeutic process. During therapy, people often are able to access and find peace with disavowed, “exiled” parts of themselves. In this workshop the principal investigator of the Phase I and II level trials will discuss outcomes and processes. Two of the most prominent neurobiologists of psychedelics, Robin Carhart Harris and Sue Carter will present their findings about fundamental mechanisms, and the Boston MDMA study team will discuss clinical experiences and applications. In appropriate therapeutic contexts, psychedelics may prove to be more effective than most conventional treatments, as well as safer and more cost-effective.


2:00 pm - 6:00 pm EST: Workshop 6 - Ruth Lanius, Sherain Haricharan, Terpou Braeden, Andrew Nicholson, Daniela Rabellino, Chantelle Lloyd, Margaret McKinnon, Paul Frewen, Wendy ‘d Andrea, Sebern Fisher, Bessel van der Kolk - Bottom Up: How Neuroscience Can Guide Us in Body Oriented Therapies - The integration of recent discoveries in neuroscience with embodiment and mindfulness.

Summary: As trauma-focused clinicians, we are well aware of the fact that traumatized individuals are often not aware of their triggers. Research carried out by our group has therefore focused on the effects of trauma triggers that are presented for a few milliseconds only and are thus perceived under the threshold of consciousness awareness. Presentation of these trauma triggers had a striking effect on both heart rate variability, a measure of emotion regulation, and brain activation of structures deep within the midbrain that are often referred to as the innate alarm system of the brain. These brain structures help an individual react reflexively to trauma at a subconscious level and therefore provide an ultra fast means of responding to overwhelming experience. This research has important implications for treatment of trauma-related disorders since current therapies for these disorders focus predominantly on conscious responses to trauma. Given these findings, however, it will be of utmost importance that future treatment strategies target directly the effects of trauma reminders occurring in everyday life beyond the level of conscious awareness. Here, it will be crucial that body-oriented interventions, mindfulness practices, and neurofeedback training will be examined as potentially important adjunctive treatments for PTSD and other trauma-related disorders since these treatments can target trauma symptoms occurring beyond the level of conscious awareness.

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