Recently, I travelled to the Atlantic seashore and the Cape Cod Institute in Orleans, Massachusetts, to attend a one-week seminar on Brain-Body-Mind Neuroscience with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., who wrote the seminal and inspirational book, “The Body Keeps the Score”. The seminar was entitled the “Frontiers of Trauma Treatment”. One of the other books I read to prepare for this outstanding seminar was “The Body Remembers” by Babette Rothschild. As the titles of these books indicate, modern neuroscience has shown that our ways of navigating our journey through our days is highly influenced by the programs that were down-loaded into our physiology and our psyche when we were young. The seminar focused on how our programs can be re-experienced and “written over” by a healing relationship. Hippocrates called this type of relationship “Partners in Healing”.
Although much of Dr. van der Kolk’s early work was with PTSD clients, his later findings apply to all levels of disassociation and anxiety. He highly recommended such experiential practices as: EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), tapping, meditation, yoga and hypnotherapy. All of these modalities emphasize the importance of BEING HERE….. No mention of time. Not here “and now”. In experiential work we actually leave time. The focus then becomes what is most relevant for us. In this state we prioritize all of our different emotions. We hopefully let our thalamus be the “cooker” that blends our reactions, purposes and interpretations into a cohesive action that is optimally suited to a given situation. Our limbic system tends to be reactive and attuned to detecting unsafe situations. The amygdala acts like a “smoke detector” and modulates and “interocepts” the incoming stimuli. In PTSD cases the amygdala malfunctions.
The characteristic that Dr. van der Kolk highlighted as one of the most significant in his research studies was reciprocity. Reciprocity happens when two people are emotionally available for each other and are each TOTALLY HERE! Self-ownership creates deep connectivity.
Richard M. Haney, M.Ed., Ph.D. (Counselling and Mediation)
Richard has been practising Wholistic Counselling, Coaching, Hypnotherapy and Mediation for the past 25 years in Ottawa.