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CBD 2022: Polyvagal Theory, the Body and How to Heal Prevalent Aspects of Trauma with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

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Event Details:

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score is presenting a free three-session series on the ways traumatic events affect the brain, the mind, and the body, as well as methods for healing and preventing the suffering that can persist after traumatic events. Dr. van der Kolk’s series illuminates the most recent neuroscience of traumatic stress and a wide range of treatment approaches that meet the needs of different individuals’ specific difficulties.

In this second of Dr. van der Kolk’s three-part session, he will discuss Attachment, Polyvagal Theory, the Body and How to Heal Prevalent Aspects of Trauma. Topics include:

  • Differences between disorganized attachment and traumatic stress.
  • Synchronicity, reciprocity and the mirror neuron systems, and brain development.
  • The Polyvagal Theory and how it illuminates the mechanisms by which contemplative practices may render their benefits.
  • How to overcome the destabilization and disintegration trauma leaves in its wake.
  • Learned helplessness and learned agency.
  • How to restore: trust and synchronicity; neurological mechanisms for information processing; mastery and the ability to attend to current circumstances.
  • Somatic re-experiencing of trauma-related sensations and affects that serve as engines for continuing maladaptive behaviors.
  • How mind and brain mature in the context of effective caregiving systems.

Information on the first of the three sessions is available here. The final portion of each session will be a Q&A discussion.

Information on Sessions 1 and 3 in this series are in the links below:

Session 1: Healing Trauma in the Brain, Mind, and Body: A three-session series with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

Session 3: Trauma-specific Treatment Interventions including Contemplative Practices and Other Non-pharmacological Methods and Activities with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

Bessel A. van der Kolk M.D. is a pioneer, clinician, researcher, and teacher in the area of posttraumatic stress. His work uniquely integrates developmental, neurobiological, psychodynamic, somatic, and interpersonal aspects of the impact of trauma and its treatment.

His #1 New York Times Science best seller, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Treatment of Trauma (translated in 38 languages), transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, psychedelic therapy, psychodrama, mindfulness techniques, parts work, yoga, and bodywork. Dr. van der Kolk and his various collaborators have published extensively on the impact of trauma on development, such as dissociative problems, borderline personality and self-mutilation, cognitive development, memory, and the psychobiology of trauma. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed scientific articles on such diverse topics as neuroimaging, self-injury, memory, neurofeedback, Developmental Trauma, yoga, theater and EMDR.

He is founder of the Trauma Center (now the Trauma Research Foundation) in Boston, MA; past President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School and Principal Investigator Boston site of MAPS sponsored MDMA assisted psychotherapy study. He regularly teaches at universities and hospitals around the world. Visit for more information. 

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk on Polyvagal Theory, the Body and How to Heal Prevalent Aspects of Trauma is part of the free Contemplation by Design Summit, Oct. 9 - 16 and Oct. 28 - Nov. 2, 2022.

The full Summit schedule is posted at: All events are FREE and online.

Registration is now open here: