Bessel van der Kolk Full Bio

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He conducted the first studies on the effects of SSRIs on PTSD; he 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. Much of his research has focused on how trauma has a different impact at different stages of development, and on how 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 around the United States, allowing the implementation of those treatments in a wide array of settings, from juvenile detention centers to schools, and tribal agencies.

Following in the footsteps of Abram Kardiner who, back in 1941, called traumatic stress a “physioneurosis” 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 a NIMH funded study on EMDR and NCCAM funded study of yoga, the study of neurofeedback to investigate whether attentional and perceptual systems (and the neural tracks responsible for them) can be altered by changing EEG patterns, as well as the capacity of MDMA to ameliorate PTSD symptomatology. Until 2018 he directed a highly trained clinical team to treat traumatized children and adults, and he currently runs a research lab that studies the effects of neurofeedback and MDMA on behavior, mood, and executive functioning.

He provides numerous trainings nationally & internationally to mental health professionals, educators, parent groups, policy makers, and law enforcement personnel. He is author of the New York Times best seller The Body Keeps the Score, which has been translated into 35 languages, and of well over 150 peer reviewed scientific articles.

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