32nd Annual Trauma Conference

Psychological Trauma: Neuroscience, embodiment and the restoration of the self

May 26th-29th 2021

Innovative leaders from the field of trauma, attachment, neuroscience, mindfulness, body oriented work and psychedelic studies

Conference Director: Bessel van der Kolk, MD

Co-Director: Ruth Lanius

bessel van der kolk

Trauma Research Foundation and
Bessel van der Kolk would like to extend a warm welcome to the 32nd Annual Boston Trauma Conference!

The study of trauma has probably been the single most fertile area in helping to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship among the emotional, cognitive, social and biological forces that shape human development.

Starting with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults and expanding into early attachment and overwhelming attachment and social experiences in childhood (“Developmental Trauma”), this endeavor has elucidated how certain experiences can “set” psychological expectations, bodily experiences and biological selectivity.

This conference will present both basic research about the impact of trauma over the life cycle, and a range of effective interventions that are being practiced in clinics, schools, prisons, families, and communities around the world.

Join us for this exclusive 4-day online conference Presented by trauma research foundation

The objective of this conference is to present current understanding of how people’s minds, brains, bodies and social organizations respond to traumatic experiences, and what currently appear to be the optimal clinical interventions, including the role of relationships, movement, synchrony, justice and processing to protect and restore safety and regulation.

Central is the role of affect regulation and the resolution of misinterpretation of innocuous stimuli as threats, which require interventions that can restore a sense of active mastery and the capacity to mindfully focus on the demands of the present.

We will also explore how different populations, ethnic groups and cultures may deal differently with traumatic experiences, and address how the legacy of trauma, systematic discrimination, isolation, blame, and social inequality can have profound effects on the capacity to cope and recover from trauma.

Online - worldwide

Experience from the comfort of your own home

May 26th -29th

From 08:15am Eastern Time (ET) - recordings available for 30 days

Join us with...

bessel van der kolk

Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD

Bessel van der Kolk, MD, is a clinician, researcher, and teacher best known for his work with posttraumatic stress. Active in the field of mental health since the 1970s, he currently serves as medical director at the Trauma Center in Boston.

Internationally and throughout the United States, van der Kolk has worked as a lecturer, teacher, and professor. He previously served as President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and as a co-director of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Complex Trauma Network. He teaches psychiatry at the Boston University Medical School and continues to work as a clinician in his Boston-area private practice.

karlen lyons

Karlen Lyons-Ruth, PhD

Presentation: Beyond Fight, Flight or Freeze: Threat of Abandonment and Its Developmental Consequences-A 30-Year Longitudinal Perspective

About: Professor of Psychology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School. Director, Biobehavioral Family Studies Lab Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Hospital

Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD

Presentation: The Restoration of the Hijacked Self: Toward Embodiment and Connection

About: professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario; Canada, co-editor, The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease: The Hidden Epidemic Healing the Traumatized Self: Consciousness, Neuroscience & Treatment.

Tania Singer

Tania Singer, PHD

Presentation: Plasticity of the Social Brain: How to train Mindfulness, Compassion and Perspectives on the Self

About: Scientific head, Social Neuroscience Lab, Max Planck Society, Berlin, Germany. Her research focuses on the hormonal, neuronal, and developmental basis of human sociality, empathy and compassion, and their malleability through mental training. She is the principal investigator of a large-scale, nine-month longitudinal meditation based mental training study, The ReSource Project, and investigates how psychology can inform new models of Caring Economics.


Michael Mithoefer, MD

Presentation: The evolving science of the use of psychedelic substances in the treatment of PTSD

About: Clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina. In 2009 he has completed the first FDA approved clinical trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment-resistant PTSD and is conducting a second study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in military veterans, firefighters and police officers with PTSD.

Resmaa Menakem, MSW

Presentation: My Grandmother’s hands: Racialized Trauma and the pathway to mending our hearts and Bodies

About: President, Justice Leadership Solutions. Author, My Grandmother’s hands, Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, Rock the Boat: How to use Conflict to Heal and Deepen Relationships; and 101 Tips for Emerging Justice Leaders. He trains community activists, police, CEOs, healthcare professionals, educators, government and judicial leaders, etc how to do the embodied work to gain the cultural maturity to build community within themselves, their groups, organizations and movements.

Lorraine R. Freedle, PhD

Presentation: Stories in the Sand: Psychocultural Pathways to Healing Communities in Crisis

About: Pediatric neuropsychologist and international sandplay therapy teacher (STA/ISST) in Hilo, Hawai’i. Faculty in the Trauma Research Foundation online certificate program.

Dr. Freedle’s research focuses on the intersection of neuropsychology, trauma and sandplay therapy. Numerous publications include award-winning research using sandplay with youth with co-occurring addiction and trauma and adults with traumatic brain injury. Dr. Freedle also co-produced/directed the “2019 Best Hawai’i Film,” Fire and Sand: Healing in the Wake of the 2018 Kilauea Eruption.

Patricia Vickers, PHD

Presentation: Trauma treatment in Native American communities: a comprehensive approach to healing

About: Dr, Vickers belongs to the Eagle clan from the village of Gitxaala, British Columbia and carries two feast hall names from her village and from the Nuxalk in Bella Coola, British Columbia. With the help of neurofeedback she teaches spiritual transformation, healing trauma, awakening, forgiveness and unearthing layers to find the authentic self.

Frank Corrigan, MD, FRCPSYCH

Presentation: Shock and terror: tracking (down) their persistent clinical effects through Deep Brain Reorienting (DBR)

About: Independent psychiatrist in Scotland. Co-author, Neurobiology and treatment of traumatic dissociation and of The Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM): novel approaches to the healing of complex trauma. Developer, Deep Brain Reorienting (DBR) as a therapeutic modality for the clinical sequelae of early attachment disruptions and for other post-traumatic presentations.

Deborah Korn, PYSD

Presentation: The Transformation of EMDR: From Technique to Comprehensive Psychotherapy

About: Private practice in Cambridge, MA, adjunct training faculty member at the Trauma Research Foundation; Faculty of the EMDR Institute for the past 28 years. Her new book about EMDR Therapy (co-authored with Michael Baldwin) is Every Memory Deserves Respect.

Tina Champagne

Presentation: Going Beyond Regulation: Exploring Sensory Integration & Processing and Implications in Developmental Trauma

About: CEO, Cutchins Programs for Children and Families. Professor for American International College’s Post Professional Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program. Vice President, MA Association for OT, Fellow. American Occupational Therapy Association. Author, Sensory modulation & environment: Essential elements of occupation (3rd Ed.).


Robin Carhart Harris, PhD

Robin Carhart Harris heads the Psychedelic Research Group within the Centre for Psychiatry at Imperial College London, where he has designed a number of functional brain imaging studies with psilocybin (magic mushrooms), LSD, MDMA (ecstasy) and DMT (ayahuasca), plus a clinical trial of psilocybin for treatment resistant depression.

Matthew Sanford

Presentation: The effects of trauma on the mind-body relationship in everyday life (posture, balance, self-awareness, sensory integration, giving and receiving)

About: Yoga teacher, founder, Mind Body Solutions, and a paraplegic for the last thirty-nine years. He is the author of Waking: a memoir of trauma and Transcendance. He teaches people around the US living with trauma, loss, and disability how to re-inhabit their bodies. www.mindbodysolutions.org

V (Formerly Eve Ensler)

Presentation: The Alchemy of Apology

About: Tony award winning playwright, performer and activist. Author, The Vagina Monologues, published in 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries, and of I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World, In The Body of the World and The Apology. With women in Congo, V-Day opened City of Joy in Bukavu, Congo, a revolutionary center for survivors of gender violence.

Sue Carter, PhD

Sue is a Distinguished University Scientist and Rudy Professor Emerita of Biology at Indiana University. A career biologist, Carter has studied the endocrinology of love and social bonds for more than three decades. She was the first person to detect and define the physiology of monogamy through her research on the prairie vole.

Rick Doblin, PHD

Executive Director, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Chair of the Board of Directors MAPS Public Benefit Corporation.

Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, REAT

Psychologist and expressive arts therapist, founder and director of the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute. She writes the Arts and Health column for Psychology Today Online, with a following of 4.8 million readers. Author of Handbook of Art Therapy, Expressive Therapies, and Art Therapy Sourcebook.

Recordings available soon

Pre-program Schedule

Wednesday & Thursday follow two parallel tracks

Wednesday 26th May

Track 1: Expressive Arts

Track 2: Global Trauma Programs

Thursday 27th May

Track 1: Psychedelics

Track 2: Neuroscience

Sessions will also be recorded and the videos made available for all attendees for 30 days

Main Schedule

Friday 28th May

Saturday, May 29th

Sessions will also be recorded and the videos made available for all attendees for 30 days
6:30 - 8pm Friday May 28th - Poster Sessions

We invite you to share your work in a Science Fair-style session.
All types of projects and career levels are welcome: qualitative and
quantitative research, case studies, program evaluation, etc. Students can elect to have their posters judged for the International Trauma Conference Poster Award.

To participate, please email your title and abstract (200 words or less) to Trauma Research Foundation: programs@traumaresearchfoundation.org by May 1.

You will receive poster instructions after receipt of your submission.

26th May: Expressive arts workshops

From Lab Bench to Bedside: Translating Trauma Research into Innovative Treatments

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.

“Mind-body integration is more than a personal health strategy. It is a movement of consciousness that can change the world.”

Matthew Sanford

“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health"

Bessel van der Kolk

Stories in the Sand: Psychocultural Pathways to Healing Trauma During Community Crisis

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.

26th may: global trauma program

Making the Invisible Visible: Addressing Power, Privilege, and Oppression in Trauma-Informed Practice

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. 

“The question that we need to address is this: What relevance do these ancient traditions have to the experience of a modern adolescent growing up in the Western world?

Rick Doblin

“Possibly the most compelling reason for use of the expressive arts in trauma work is the sensory nature of the arts themselves; their qualities involve visual, tactile, olfactory, auditory, vestibular, and proprioceptive experiences.”

Cathy A. Malchiodi

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

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



27th may: PSychedelics & Neuroscience

The Use of Mind-Altering Substances- MDMA, Psilocybin, and Marijuana for Treating PTSD and Other Mental Distress

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 founder of MAPS will describe the evolution of psychedelic therapy, the principal investigator of the Phase I and II level trials will discuss outcomes and processes, the PI of the Hopkins psilocybin study terminally ill patients and a marijuana researcher the promises and pitfalls for that substance.

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.

"Safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.”

Bessel van der Kolk

How can a three-pound mass of jelly that you can hold in your palm imagine angels, contemplate the meaning of infinity, and even question its own place in the cosmos?

V.S. Ramachandran

Bottom Up: How Neuroscience Can Guide Us in Body Oriented Therapies: The integration of recent discoveries in neuroscience with embodiment and mindfulness.

As trauma clinicians, we are well aware of the fact that traumatized individuals are often not aware of their trauma triggers. Research carried out by 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.


Scholarships & Student discount Available

We are proud to offer scholarships to certain individuals and organizations.

Limited spaces available


Order Recordings

Recordings from the 2021 conference will be available to order on our main website soon.

Sign up is completed on a seperate E-learning platform

Any questions?

Please email us at: programs@traumaresearchfoundation.org

ADA Statement

If participants have special needs, reasonable accommodations will be made for persons who request them, consistent with ADA requirements.

Code of Ethics Statement

It is the responsibility of every attendee to abide by the standards set forth in the Code of Ethics for maintaining security and confidentiality of test materials and proprietary information presented as part of this continuing education program. Any materials used as part of this program may not be copied or otherwise distributed, and no proprietary information will be disclosed by attendees to any person not registered for this program.

Conflict of Interest Statement

There is no commercial support for this program nor are there any relationships between the CE Sponsor, presenting organization, presenter, program content, research, grants, or other funding that could reasonably be construed as conflicts of interest.

Refund/Cancellation Policy

The Trauma Research Foundation will honor cancellation requests submitted by email until May 5th, 2021. 

Utility/Validity Statement

The content of this presentation, when applied according to psychological practice guidelines, within the expertise of the expertise of the practitioner do not pose any risks.

Target Audience

Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, Psychotherapists, Addiction Counselors, Therapists, Marriage & Family Therapists, Case Managers, Nurses, Physicians, Other Mental Health Professionals

Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.