The afternoon session was lecture based followed by a skills learning session with pairs. Again, van der Kolk spoke intimately with his particular Dutch like sense of humor (of course I can say this because I am from Netherlands myself) and his no nonsense result driven approach.
The key for Trauma patients is to calm down the right part of the primal, reptilian brain. Once this part is quiet, processing and talking is most effective. In fact his research has shown that when the primal brain is aroused it can shut down other parts of the brain. These other areas are critical for making choices, language and creativity. Some of the cutting frontier research in trauma are on the findings that the 6 or so different parts of the brain move in synchronicity during a balanced state, but in trauma patients these part of the brains are like different islands that don't collaborate well. This is referred to as a breakdown in cortical timing. Again movement, getting into senses and feelings are key to quiet down the right part of the primal brain.
Van der Kolk suggests that language usually is to get on the same wavelength with others as we are naturally social beings. However, this group connectedness does not help release trauma. The key to safe and effective processing by the patient is when the patient is connected to their own feelings and self as well as to the therapist. Perhaps this can be described as a skillful dance between patient and therapist.
Speaking of dance, that's how the evening ended for me at Kripalu. I will sign off by including my favorite picture of the day.
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