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                    May 2013 Newsletter



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Overwhelming and potentially traumatizing events have dominated the media this last six months; the Sandy Hook school shootings, the Boston Marathon bombings and the plant explosion in West, Texas are just those in the US.  Throughout the world, war and violence impact millions.  We know that these events can impact individuals in multiple ways; not the least of which is how pervasive fear can impact the functioning of the brain.  Maia Szalavitz, co-author of The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Born for Love, articulates the impact of terror on the brain in her recent article for Time Healthland Online, reposted on CTA's Facebook page.   While we know that chaos, threat and terror can alter the functioning of the brain, we also know that attentive, attuned and responsive interactions with others can buffer and heal the impact of traumatizing experiences. The ongoing research, program development and training activities of the CTA are examining and addressing these issues from a variety of perspectives.  While much progress has been made in understanding the impact of trauma on development and functioning, there is much more to learn. As we do learn more, we will continue to share with you.
FEAR & the BRAIN           Maia
   All brain functioning is "state-dependent."  Thought, emotion and behavior will all change with the state of the individual;  this is very evident with fear.  The shift along the arousal continuum as discussed extensively in all of the CTA training materials and sessions is one of the major concepts underlying a "trauma-informed" approach to clinical work, education and caregiving.  In a recent brief, but excellent article in TIME, Maia Szalavitz, a neuroscience journalist, co-author of two books with Dr. Perry and feature writer for Time Healthland Online (healthland.time.com) published an article - "How Terror Hijacks the Brain" - in response to the Boston Marathon Bombing. Below is an excerpt of that article:
     "Fear short circuits the brain, especially when it hits close to home, experts say- making coping with events like the bombings at the Boston Marathon especially tricky.  'When people are terrorized, the smartest parts of our brain tend to shut down,' says Dr. Bruce Perry, Senior Fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy. (Disclosure:  he and I have written books together).

When the brain is under severe threat, it immediately changes the way it processes information, and starts to prioritize rapid responses. 'The normal long pathways through the orbitofrontal cortex, where people evaluate situations in a logical and conscious fashion and [consider] the risks and benefits of different behaviors- that gets short circuited,' says Dr. Eric Hollander, professor of psychiatry at Montefiore/Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York.  Instead, he says, 'You have sensory input right through the sensory [regions] and into the amygdala or limbic system.'

     This dramatically alters how we think, since the limbic system is deeply engaged with modulating our emotions.  'The neural networks in the brain that are involved in rational, abstract cognition- essentially, the systems that mediate our most humane and creative thoughts- are very sensitive to emotional states, especially fear,' says Perry. So when people are terrorized, 'Problem solving becomes more categorical, concrete and emotional [and] we become more vulnerable to reactive and short-sighted solutions,' he says.


Traumatic events typically evoke a whole suite of brain responses, such as making people faster to startle, increasing their reaction time and producing hypervigilance to any type of sensation that might be linked with the threatening experience.

     And this warping of perspective is exactly what terrorists aim to achieve.  'Terrorists are trying to induce fear and panic,' says Hollander, noting that media coverage that repeats the sounds and images of the events maximizes their impact. The coverage keeps the threat alive and real in people's minds, and sustains the threat response, despite the fact that the immediate danger has passed. The marathon attacks were particularly damaging, he says, because 'All of sudden, there's trauma associated with what had been a meaningful, communal event.' "


Read the full article here.
WAVE Trust - Working to End Violence and Child Abuse
Founded in 1995, the WAVE Trust has committed itself to decreasing violence by addressing its root causes including child abuse and neglect. With headquarters in Surrey, United Kingdom, WAVE Trust's 70/30 campaign aims to reduce child abuse, neglect, and domestic violence 70% by 2030:  "According to an NSPCC study in 2000, levels of serious physical abuse of children in the UK exceeded 2 million children per annum, with a further 2 million suffering neglect.  Despite the best efforts of children's charities since the second world war levels of abuse and neglect have not reduced - neglect has probably increased.  We have developed a strategy for how we will drive and facilitate a 70% reduction in child abuse, neglect, and domestic violence in the UK by 2030.  We call this 70/30.  Through our research, we have identified the root causes of violence and also the most effective prevention and early intervention programmes that will address these.  Finally, we promote the adoption of our recommended programmes at both the national and local level.  If our recommendations are implemented, we predict that 70/30 can be achieved and that this will result in extensive cost savings in public spending. Our research shows that our strategy will also help reduce alcoholism, drug abuse, mental health problems, teenage pregnancy and heart, lung and liver disease" (wavetrust.org).


To learn more about the WAVE Trust, their research and global efforts, visit their website: 

www.wavetrust.org or visit them on Facebook.


Upcoming Training Opportunities

Registration is now open for the Fall 2013 NMT Case-Based Training Series.  For those not familiar, the NMT Case-based Training Series is a 10-week, clinical discussion series led by Dr. Perry. During each 90-minute session, Dr. Perry discusses principles of the Neurosequential Model as illustrated through the case-presentation of a child.  We offer two participation options: join each session live, online - no travel required! - or elect to receive our recording package - links to recordings of all 10 sessions plus case-materials provided through an online account; access your account and links at any time, day or night, for 1 full year with the ability to pause and replay the recordings at any time.


Dates and topics for the Fall 2013 Series are as follows:


Session 1: September 6: Developmentally-informed Assessment for At-Risk Children

Session 2: September 13: Strengths and Limits of Diagnostic Labels in Mental Health

Session 3: September 20:  Principles of Effective Psychopharmacology in Dysregulated Children

Session 4: September 27: Animal Assisted Therapy with Maltreated and Traumatized Children

Session 5: October 4:  Introduction to the Cerebellum: Not just a Cauliflower

Session 6: October 18: Designing a Somatosensory Regulation Plan for Dysregulated Children

Session 7: October 25: The Power of Rhythm: Music, Movement & Language

Session 8: November 1:  Trauma-sensitive Intervention in Juvenile Justice Settings

Session 9: November 15: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Method and Mechanism

Session 10: November 22:  Review and Feedback


For more information and to enroll, click here.  



SAVE THE DATE - Upcoming Conference on the Neurosequential Model - June 10-12, 2014
We are very pleased to announce that The ChildTrauma Academy and Hull Services of Calgary, Alberta will be co-sponsoring a three-day conference focusing on trauma-informed care and the Neurosequential Model.  The conference will take place June 10-12, 2014 in Banff, Alberta.  More details to follow in the coming months, so stay tuned to our newsletter and website!


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Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D.
The ChildTrauma Academy