October 30, 2014
Bessel van der Kolk —
Restoring the Body: Yoga, EMDR, and Treating Trauma

Human memory is a sensory experience, says psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Through his longtime research and innovation in trauma treatment, he shares what he's learning about how bodywork like yoga or eye movement therapy can restore a sense of goodness and safety. What he’s learning speaks to a resilience we can all cultivate in the face of the overwhelming events — which, after all, make up the drama of culture, of news, and of life.

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is medical director of the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts. He’s also professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School. His books include Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on the Mind, Body and Society and The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.

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As I listened to Dr. Kolk's description of EMDR, I thought about the eye movements of REM sleep and the important part it plays in sense-making for the brain. Perhaps in the case of trauma, the EMDR sequence triggers a similar processing capability. It seems like a functional MRI or brain scan would show areas of the brain active during REM in a health person and undergoing EMDR to see if they are similar. Trauma victims can have nightmares and other sleep disturbances that may prevent or seriously affect different levels of sleep. In short, this was a very intriguing and information dense episode of the show.

I had the same observation and question. Wish he had talked more about REM sleep and how it might relate to the healing of trauma. Great program once again!

I have had EMDR and was told it was supposed to mimic essentially the same processes as REM sleep.

Two adjuncts to EMDR, the "hand-tapping" (patient with palms up on knees--helpful for heavy shame laden content), and "finger snaps" (alternating beside each ear-useful with pre-verbal infants) also were found by EMDR clinicians to be potentially helpful alternative adjuncts. See the EMDR clinicians newsletter. The finger snaps were used with a 17-month old infant having nightmares following being scalded by boiling water...

Thank you for inviting one of the most accomplished leaders in the field of traumatic stress to share his insights and research about PTSD and the hopeful and encouraging advances in treatment.

I did want to add an additional insight based on my own clinical experience and those of countless colleagues. While the present research demonstrates how remarkably efficacious EMDR is in treating and resolving the effects of single incident adult onset trauma -- it has also proven to be an elegant protocol in treating early and complex attachment traumas. I believe that when the research on EMDR's application to this debilitating form of PTSD is further along, the outcomes will continue to reinforce how multi-faceted this brilliant intervention is when creatively, thoughtfully and rigorously practiced.

I went to EMDR after an adult trauma that escalated to PTSD. But like many of us who developed PTSD, I had a background of substantial complex trauma and those memories started to come out after the events as an adult. I never forgot the trauma memories from my early years but they were very "disconnected" and floating, without any emotional reality at all. The feeling of being out of control, adrenalized at unpredictable times, and having flashbacks is truly disturbing, but once they started coming out a lot of things that had been present as long as I could remember made sense. PTSD in that sense represents freedom, because I don't think I would have dealt with the underlying issues without it.

For me a lot of my work required getting in touch with body experiences, exactly as Dr. van der Kolk discusses. The body often "knows" things before the conscious brain does. The relaxation and anxiety tolerance skills are absolutely necessary for my day to day existence, because I'm still triggered by things, primarily loud sounds, flashing lights, etc. The EMDR process itself seems to allow access to the "reptile" brain. When it works properly (i.e., goes fast enough to tax executive function) it's quite different than being ordinarily conscious.

I found myself at age 18 in prison with a life sentence. Somewhere early on I got the idea that the body, mind, and spirit needed to be equally nourished. So education, exercise, tai chi, yoga, martial arts, meditation, and many other practices became part of my life. I found myself somewhat unexpectedly released in 2009, after nearly 25 years behind bars. That time had its share of traumatic experience, and was overall a very hard way to live. These practices, especially body practices and zazen, helped me to not only survive, but to become a completely different person, more compassionate, more in my body, more aware of my emotions etc.

Congratulations John... May your life be filled with good things. Life outside of prison will have it's own traumas. I hope the practices you've learned to become a more compassionate person will sustain you and that you can find a way to share your insights with others.

My son was sentenced to 32 years in prison 10 years ago at age 18. He is using his time in a manner similar to you and would appreciate hearing of your experiences with meditation, martials arts, healing the mind and body.
If you would correspond with him, please email me at nancy.kern@ymail.com

Wow! What a beautiful transformation, well done, Bravo!

Would like to know more about EMDR - maybe another program. Thank you for the wonderful work you do "On Being."

I had repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse come back 22 years ago. As first a victim, next a survivor and now a "Transcender", I could relate to everything Bessel van de Kolk said. Thank you so much for this amazing interview. It brought tears of Joy and Gratitude for my journey and where I am today!

EMDR has proved a lifesaver for me in dealing with multiple instances of trauma. I've been in treatment for three years, now, and little by little the process has taken all the power out of the memories that paralyzed me for so long. The work continues - we have several years of trauma to process - but I'm no longer trapped in the terrifying maelstrom of PTSD at its untreated height.

Yoga has also helped me immeasurably, for exactly the reasons that Dr. Kolk suggested. Yoga gets me back into my body, forcing (in the gentlest way) my body and brain to communicate, and for me to pay attention to how my body feels. Hearing Dr. Kolk talk about the benefits of movement for relieving trauma reminded me how valuable yoga has been.

Thank you for a wonderful show.

Just randomly stumbled upon this show on a sunday morning, and can say it is easily one of the most profound and enlightened things i've ever heard on radio. A must listen - and share. Thanks for not only the show, but making it available online and download.

As a young mom and dad we added yogic breathing to our childrens upbringing. What magic. As we would go past things that our children would want they would start to get anxious and cranky. We would say, take three deep breaths and magic would happen.
Yoga helped keep stress from our family and is still working today, 25 years later.

I enjoyed this valuable interview and invite you to learn about another powerful somatically grounded, deeply nourishing and spiritual approach to healing offered by Cass Phelps at www.awake-one.com. He's unique and impeccable in my 7 years of learning with him. His videos show his gifts for creating new openings for physical, emotional and spiritual vitality.

Listening to this I was struck by how much it had in common with the book The Instinct to Heal. Grateful to hear such wisdom is spreading and be applied to help others heal and live rich engaged lives.

Very therapeutic just listening to this after the acquittal verdict yesterday. It has been so painful to go through this again and experience again the callousness and inhumanity of American deep racism as codified in the criminal justice system,

It was a wonderful show, BUT I find these types of shows SO DEPRESSING since I now know there is help out there somewhere, BUT no help for me living in northern Minnesota. Such a feeling of hopelessness!!!!!

It is difficult if you live in a small community, to travel to get any medical or psychological counseling. I live in a small town and resources are limited. I don't know what you have experienced in your life, but just getting out walking or exercise of some type has helped daily to relieve some depression and anxiety. I wish you well and please, never give up hope.

If you have access to water try paddleboarding, especially at sunrise or sunset. I am 65 years old and on a board 5 to 6 days a week. It helps me think, breath, and stand. This evening a Bald Eagle led the way along a Lake Superior shoreline.

I'm nitnsureni undrstand how you can find this show depressing, no matter where you live. The very purpose and essence is to help YOU discover a way of and a way to deal with your situation, even if you have to do so by yourself. I live on a desert island, in a manner of speaking. I have been alone and isolated and haven't been able to figure out how to get off of this island! It is exactly this show and others like it that are helping me to build a life raft. These are tools you build to take with you wherever you are. Like the writer who spent 25 years in prison. If there is even one person who lives in your town, then you have someone who can help you.

My heart goes out to you after reading such feelings of hopelessness. The affliction itself can cause deep feelings of hopelessness. In my search for therapy I came across therapists who skype over the internet. While it may not be an ideal solution, there IS hope. And there are solutions available to you. You might have to do a little more digging than others in metropolitan areas. I'd be glad to try to offer more suggestions for you. Maybe you could try a search for therapists who use skype to help people over the internet. Psychologytoday.com is a resource that allows you to filter your search by region, specialties, skype-ability, etc. As always when gathering data from the internet, please make sure the therapists you find have credentials and are experienced in the area of expertise you requre.

Roberta, I wanted to add my voice to those reaching out to you. There is so much you can do for yourself, as you continue to look for the right professional help for you. As EMDR proves itself to be an effective treatment, it will become more available, and more counselors will train in it. I want to underscore the advice given to you already in replies above, and add one more. Emotional Freedom Technique ( EFT ), EMDR, and Art Therapy all have bilateral components, meaning the eye movements, and tapping on both sides of the body activate both sides of the brain. Art Therapy activates right brain (simplified, also where the trauma "lives") through the process of image making (doesn't matter what it looks like, it's the process of creating), then activates the left brain as you process what you made and what you were experiencing through words, written and spoken. My understanding is that any bilateral work that activates both sides, forces the two sides, with very different preferences, to communicate with each other, and that allows more of the brain to work on solving the conflicts. For EFT you can look it up on YouTube to see it practiced, and try it yourself. There is also a book on EFT for PTSD that I have just purchased, to add to my own clinical practice. Keep asking counselors about EMDR, as the more they hear requests for it, the more likely they will be to do the training. (Leave your number with them, and ask them to call you if they ever decide to add it to their treatment offerings.) As for Art Therapy in the treatment of trauma, I continue to be excited about the power of it to heal. I became an Art Therapist because in my 20s I had a traumatic 2 years that escalated into PTSD, and healed myself through my art. It took about a year, was very intense, and I devoured every bit of info I could get my hands on. That was in the 1980s, a time when information was not so available. You can find out more about Art Therapy from the American Art Therapy Association at http://www.arttherapy.org/ Please continue to search for a counselor, but in the meantime, find ways to heal yourself and try everything that feels right. Allow you healing to unfold, and know that you are a survivor! You are powerful beyond measure, and you will find your way! You CAN heal. Also look into Post traumatic Growth from positive psychology. Many of us on this post will keep you in our thoughts and prayers!

I hope Dr. Kolk gets to read this. Hearing his talk this morning was an AHA! moment. I've been suffering with memories of early childhood abuse for 62 years and never really got the importance of the mind/body connection until this morning. Listening to his talk was a freeing experience. Thank you!

I feel this show makes so many striking points about why various sorts of movement are critical to the well being of individuals and the healing of various forms and levels of trama, large or small. Weather through yoga, rapid eye movement etc... I learned about stress hormones and how restricting movement is so harmful to the psyche of individuals. I appreciated the reminder that having students sit still during school all day and not be exposed to arts, music and other types of movement is not helpful for learning or the healthy psychological development of the child. I add that age appropriate school recess is critical to PK-12 students social and educational development. Not to mention it is humane, Thanks you for this very important "Restoring the Body" by Bessel Van Der Kolk.

I was diagnosed with a malady a few years ago, I sought the philosophies of phenomenology and deconstruction, philosophies that involve the "being before the gaze," which for me is this psychological malady. After a few years I have intuited this malady trying to understand its system. It was a subject, amid others on the talk show, how does the knowledge of such system, bare on our relations among our fellow man. I have found that we are equal in our plasticity. That from the realization that we are an open and fictile system we can see that evil is rather extrinsic. And may then join hands in unity; to bring to blossom healing.

I am the owner of a 53 year old mind and body that has seen much stress and trauma during life. From the 'difficult' childhood, death of my best friend when I was driving the car, cancer, and death of my 19 year old son I find my self trudging on ...and on and on.
Until my son died, I was always a 'glass half full' person through it all. After his death, I was a ' this glass is empty' person.
I am on a journey to heal myself and revive some sort of Joie de vivre. The awareness of this need has made me open and seeking anything that might help. Listening to the Bessel van der Kolk interview by Krista Tippit I have learned that I am on the right track to healing. I am with a therapist who does talk therapy and EMDR. I found that the EMDR has given me enormous relief. I know that I need to use this more in therapy but I also find talk therapy so helpful. I have done yoga, ballet and dance and though I can't do what I could 30 years ago it helps. I currently work hours in my garden which I call my church. The movement and body awareness that is attached to gardening is very healing to me. I choose not to listen to the news other than to learn the headlines 2nd hand. I just started seeing a natural path doctor to heal the 'gut wrenching' in me that can't go on. I am still seeing MD doctors but I am finding after just one visit, with her more sympathetic and natural ideas for healing that make sense to me.
As I said, I am on my way to healing and Dr. Kolk has validated the many things that have come across my path whether I know why they are working or how they got there. I can't wait to order his book and I am so grateful for your podcast, Krista Tippit because I learn so much with such a soothing medium.

This program gave me a different insight on my own recovery and perhaps what was going on with my husband before he died by suicide and why my son 2yrs earlier had ended his life by suicide. And why did I cope so differently than these two precious people in my life? One comment that was made on the program was "Be an agent of your own recovery". Although traumatic images occurred in my head and still do, but are becoming more faded, I had decided that after my son died, I would be a survivor and I would be here for my other children and I would again enjoy life.

I am a Life Coach through eMerge Services which has a military component (http://www.emergemilitaryservices.org/). We strive to move people forward in their lives and are active in helping return veterans in their re-integration. I was fascinated and inspired by this piece with Dr. Kolk. I am going to be researching this further and applying what I learn to better serving people who have experienced extreme trauma. Thank you as always for what On Being provides as a light in this world, picking us all up in the reflection!

-Cynthia Drake

In addition to the suggestions on today's broadcast, two other very effective trauma recovery tools are Emotional Freedom Technique ( EFT ), developed by Gary Craig, and Focusing, developed by Eugene Gendlin. Both can be taught to the client and then self applied if desired. I have used them both extensively professionally and personally and they seem less complicated to me that EMDR.

EFT is not as evidenced based like EMDR, and is a "take off" of EMDR., where clients are left on their own to do their own movements. EMDR also uses movements clients can do on their own like "Butterfly Tapping" to help ground them. The research backing EMDR protocols is extensive, while I am not saying EFT doesn't work for some people, it does not have the 30 years of research behind it. There is a reason for the EMDR protocol, which isn't so "complicated" once you practice it regularly, and I say this as a clinician. The protocols of EMDR are grounding for the client and needed to focus the client and heal the trauma fully.

I sat, listened, and was inspired. All we have heard before and knew -- and knew we knew -- is distilled in honesty and wisdom as Dr. Kolk and Krista explore the awfulness of trauma and the beauty and grace of recovery and helping people recover. Someone said, "I am not cured, but I am healed." That is goodness; that is grace. I will share this inspiring program with people who fear, with people who have known trauma, with people who work to help, with people who want to be a part of healing and to be healed. Thank you for this most powerful and hopeful discussion. We know what to do. Today is Good Samaritan Sunday in many places of worship. The program reminds us: go and do likewise. We know what to do.

I had a deep, physical & emotional reaction to this segment of On Being. The timing was, for me, clearly a "God thing". I'd was driving away from having just hiked several miles of trails in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, wondering why I had stopped getting outdoors and moving my body as I'd so loved to do as a child.

September will the be the 30th anniversary of a violent kidnapping/beating/sexual assault I survived at 18. After 20 years of traditional "talk therapy", I was introduced to EMDR and it changed my feelings about this trauma almost completely, as described, releasing the emotion of the events and making more just part of my story. (FYI, I respond better to EMDR done with audio stimulation more than visual. That's what's so cool about it! It isn't just an "eye movement" thing!)

Four years ago, I discovered yoga, and have begun, gradually, to see the reconnection with my body of which you both spoke. I began yoga to deal with being quite overweight and wanting to become more flexible. Little did I know that it would help me transition off antidepressants and begin to, as you put it, feel safe in my body again. I know I still have work to do, but I believe, from the center of my being, that this is the route to healing and truly living again! Hiking alone in a national park in the rain began to make me think about how I want to live this 2nd half of my life. And then came your program, which reminded me how I can begin this healing/living process! THANK YOU!!!

I note that there is no transcript to this Being episode.

Over the years, the transcripts have been far more useful to my learning than listening.

I hope they will be continued.

Bob Schneck

I had the wonderful experience of benefitting from EMDR treatment by Dr Van der Kolk after experiencing septic shock , after a 3 day coma and multiple intubations to deal with severe breathing failure. EMDR helped me stop 6 months of nightmares from this ICU trauma . One deep interview followed by a single EMDR session liberated me from this post traumatic sequel.

This was a lovely conversation about a deeply difficult subject, leaving a life affirming sense and hopefulness.
In addition to the many benefits of EMDR which are researched, I wonder what the good doctor's experience is with "tapping" and ERT (Emotional Release Technique) which seems so popular and easily accessible for changing thought patterns, etc these days/ Thanks for another good hour..

I am working at a summer camp with kids 6-13 years old with various attachment disorders, trauma, and ADHD. I know very little about ADHD, so I may be far off... but, I wonder if the hyperactivity, inability to focus, and aggression is a product of their trauma. In the show, he gave an example of how stress produces energy to get through the circumstance. Perhaps these children's own stress has created an huge amount of hyperactivity???? Sometimes, they appear vacant... as if they are not in their mind and cannot control their body. I don't know? ... just a thought. I'm still young in my career. I have also worked with victims/ survivors of sexual abuse. Similarly, the body and mind are disconnected. I love how he says, "You have to own your body." Great show!

I was so happy to hear Dr. van der Kolk talk about using Structural Integration (aka Rolfing) as a way to eliminate the physical patterns that allow trauma to define a person's posture, movement, and experience of being in their body. I have witnessed countless instances of clients being freed from the literal, soft-tissue restrictions that had been hindering their growth and progress, in ways that talk therapy could never begin to touch (pun intended).

Some of these memories were deeply lodged in the body, even though the conscious mind had long forgotten.

As an educator, I truly appreciated Dr. Kolk's statement, "In order to have a mind that focuses, you have to move your body. You need to sing with other people, and if you think that your kids are going to be better if you keep them stuck still in a classroom taking tests, then you don't know anything about human beings." I wish that the politicians, most of whom have never spent a day teaching in a classroom, shared Dr. Kolk's opinion. Instead, the curriculum for public education is driven by standardized testing - a billion dollar industry. It is no wonder that in such an environment where both students and teachers are told their worth is determined by test scores that the level of stress is crippling - physically and emotionally.

I have witnessed students in tears days before an exam..... in tears. And most recently, teachers in tears, as they give up their profession.

For me jazz improvisation was my physical focus during therapy. It's a profoundly mindful experience, and also very physical.

Thanks so much to every one envolved with making this program available to me this I believe has been very helpful. I have a son that has menkes syndrome and I've really never thought what I'm dealing with might actually be a trama. Again thanks a million

It went well beyond a driveway moment....i ate my dinner in the car in the dark because of this show..it re-inspired me after feeling a bit flat lately about my typical xyz wining about not fulfilling or even knowing my mission and purpose type drudgery that zaps me from time to time (probably most of us from time to time). apparently it starts with the breath.

While not everyone can go to Bessell's clinic, he both uses and recommends a number of therapies. One that is increasingly available in MN and other states is the Sensory Motor Psychotherapy of Pat Ogden.

I would love to introduce you to Reiki! Gentle
touch to create flow to assist in releasing the holding we do with our body.
Thank you

I have been in private practice in psychoanalysis for many years. Several long term patients, while still benefitting from being listened to deeply had been stuck on a plateau for years until I studied Focusing Oriented Therapy, which incorporates listening to the body for its wisdom. After introducing this to my practice, they all quickly and dramatically reached new levels of being. The sessions are more alive than ever and we are thrilled to continue. Each session is a new and surprising adventure. The body does know exactly what we need to heal.

There was a mention of a program in the Berkshires that offers arrested juveniles a chance to study Shakespeare instead of detention. Cab you tell me the name of the program? Wonderful show.

Bessel knocks it out of the park again, as usual! Just one point of clarification: EMDR is not only useful for single incident trauma, but also very effective for complex trauma/PTSD.

See Foa, E.B., Keane, T.M., Friedman, M.J., & Cohen, J.A. (2009). Effective treatments for PTSD: Practice Guidelines of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies New York: Guilford Press. EMDR was listed as an effective and empirically supported treatment for PTSD, and was given an AHCPR “A” rating for adult PTSD.

As noted in the American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines (2004, p.18), in EMDR “traumatic material need not be verbalized; instead, patients are directed to think about their traumatic experiences without having to discuss them.” Given the reluctance of many combat veterans to divulge the details of their experience, as well as other trauma survivors, this factor is relevant to willingness to initiate treatment, retention and therapeutic gains.

The World Health Organization (WHO) now has "guidelines on problems and disorders specifically related to stress." (In press)
“Individual or group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a trauma focus, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), or stress management should be considered for adults with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
"Individual or group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a trauma focus or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) should be considered for children and adolescents with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."

Roberta, I don't know where you live but feel free to check out www.traumahealing.com for resources a practitioners who have learned another mind body approach for trauma. There are some Somatic Experiencing Practitioners in Northern Mn...just not sure where the live in comparison to you. This is another approach that Bessel endorses. Blessings on your healing journey!

Just want to mention Dr. Shapiro's new book "Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR." Dr. Shapiro is the founder/creator of EMDR but all the proceeds from the book go to two charities: the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program and the EMDR Research Foundation). Anyway, the book is an easy read, helps you understand what's "pushing" your feelings and behavior, helps you connect the dots from past experiences to current life. Also gives lots of really helpful ways that are used during EMDR therapy to calm disturbing thoughts and feelings. And anyone can use some of the techniques in this user-friendly book!

The proper therapeutic comportment toward emotional trauma: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-relating-existing/201303/i-ll-be-you-when-the-deal-goes-down

I loved this interview for many reasons.

Bessel only briefly touched on the effects of too-much-dreadful-news, and how to deal with it. Do any of you have thoughts on how to stay informed of what's happening in the world without getting stressed and guilty over every terrible suffering on the screen. I know taking action is important, but even if one takes action to help Hurricane Sandy victims, there's still Sandy Hook killings, cholera in Haiti, the BP oil spill. How do you respond (or help your clients respond) to content news of others' trauma?

Bessil described EMDR as a bizarre and wonderful therepy but better done with someone else, which limits its access to people like Roberta In northern MN. EFT is a technique that is also bizarre and wonderful, which Hannah mentioned previously, but is much more accessible. Gary Craig, who developed it, describes the process in clear, precise detail on his website emofree.com . Just about anyone can learn to reduce the stress of all their traumas large and small through EFT all by themselves.
Krista, of all the topics you cover, this is right on top in importance for the sane functioning of our society.

I was excited to listen to your conversation with Dr. van der Kolk. Body integrated psychotherapies have been around for a long time but overall have lost favor with the mainstream treatment community. Alexander Lowen was a student of Wilhelm Reich and developed Bioenergetic Analysis -- www.bioenergetics-society.com -- as a method of integrating movement, body reconnection, and emotional healing. I have found his work remarkable and profound for me as both a client and as a clinician.

Additionally, David Bercelli has developed a treatment for PTSD called TRE (Trauma Releasing Exercises) - www.traumaprevention.com -- that also integrates body awareness and restoration of the body's natural trembling to promote trauma recovery. While Bioenergetic Analysis and EMDR require considerable training, anyone can learn TRE and use it immediately. There is even a YouTube video demonstrating TRE. Check it out! Even for a person without trauma, TRE is extremely relaxing!

Thanks for a great show!

I 've tried TRE and , you're exactly right, it absolutely promotes trauma recovery---quickly, dramatically, and easily. It changed my life.

I am very pleased to see the attention to Yoga, EMDR to treat PTSD. I've practiced Yoga for 37 years in settings all over the world (it's also a very portable way to exercise and meditate, even in war zones) and have also worked as a disaster, trauma mental health therapist for many years...also in various settings from NY after 9/11 to Cambodia, Egypt, and other places in the world experiencing trauma to their way of life. I've also experienced my own PTSD to the point of hallucinations and panic attacks.....it has been Yoga and meditation that has helped me to help myself and others to find safety and trust in the world again. The wounds are emotional, moral, and core to who we are.....hearts can physically hurt, sometimes like a spear through the soul.

Enjoyed listening to this program. Please put me on list for newsletter and future podcasts. Intrigued and curious about the links made between healing through movement, within community, and the reclaiming of one's integrity when there is deliberate and Imposed hurt. As a trauma therapist, I am enlivened continuously by the never ending connections that is 'the life force and its' potential to transform.'
Barbara A Martino
Thank you,

Thank you so much for exploring this topic. I personally spent almost 10 years in talk therapy for early childhood trauma with a very competent therapist. It accomplished almost nothing except to re-traumatize me over and over again.
I later found someone trained in EMDR and finally found some peace. Many triggers no longer send me into flashbacks. I am a fan.

Again, thank you for explaining more about the mind/body connection as it relates to trauma. Responses that feel hard-wired CAN be accessed and re-directed.

Thank you, once again, for getting the word out.

I listened to your interview with Dr. van der Kolk as I took my evening beach walk. In the beginning of the interview when Dr. van der Kolk talks about how the body must move to heal from trauma, I burst into tears and sobbed for several minutes. This came out of nowhere . . . somehow it resonated with my mind on a very deep level of consciousness and my body recognized it's truth. I have had a drive to move my body by walking, hiking, biking, kayaking and horseback riding for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a tumultuous household with an alcoholic father. When I was 18, I was a passenger on a motorcycle that was hit by a car. I spent a month in the hospital and nearly a year of recuperation. They saved a leg (two inches shorter) and that is why I thought I've had this fervor for movement ever since (40 years later). I've had other traumatic events in life and realize that I probably drew them to me because of my past experiences. I practice yoga but will do more since hearing this interview. Your interviews are such a gift Krista but this one in particular has changed my life and as I read other comments, the lives of many. Thank you and a huge thank you to Dr. Van der Kolk for his work. I will absolutely pass this interview on . . .

As a trauma survivor, I use yoga as a way to reconnect to the body, but last year I learned about sensorimotor therapy, which uses eye tracking and other methods to release trauma stored in the brain and the body. Since beginning this therapy, I have been able to release the pain stored in the brain, the old "scars" from trauma. For other trauma survivors, this might also be useful.

Thank you for another valuable show.

I listened to this podcast while on a break from my job as a wilderness therapy guide. We work with adolescents and young adults struggling with a variety of challenges, most of which are easily traced back to trauma of some sort. What a peacefully loving, inspiration-ally intelligent interview! We practice yoga in the field with our clients and with their families at home and this interview was so affirming. Thank you. You can learn more about us at www.openskywilderness.com

Enjoyed thoughtful dialogue on Trauma. I specialize in the effects of trauma on children. These children are victims of complex-relational abuse. Would like to have heard more on therapies with these children because their brains are so deeply impacted by abuse and neglect. Single trauma in adults is a whole other domain when it comes to understanding trauma. Thanks for the window on such an important topic.
gary reece, ph.d.

The "neuroscience" and "trauma" research camps need to talk! :)
FROM Alice Walton at FORBES:

How Yoga Could Help Keep Kids In School

OR "How yoga might save the US trillions of dollars and a lot of lives"

".. you have to go (BEYOND) the "neuroscience-of-meditation" field and look to the trauma research, which tells us that physical activity can help the brain deal with stress and trauma. “Trauma research tell us that we hold trauma in our bodies… The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex doesn’t even talk to the amygdala."

Neuroscience says MINDFULNESS; trauma research says MOVEMENT. All of the sudden you’ve got moving meditation or mindfulness in motion. Mindfulness alone isn’t going to cut it for these kids.” One theory is that because the executive areas of the brain can be affected by stress and trauma, “getting in” through another avenue is key."

Read it all here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2013/07/24/how-yoga-might-save-the-u-s-trillions-of-dollars-and-a-lot-of-lives/

Thank you for this moving and informative interview. I personally found Trager bodywork to be transformative in overcoming my PTSD symptoms. I also found yoga, cranial sacral, acupuncture and meditation very helpful.

So many answers!! I kind of already knew that PTSD doesn't improve with just "talking it out" since I have done plenty of that. I have been telling friends, family and therapists that "something broke inside of me, a switch came off in my brain" but had not heard a good scientific explanation until I listened to this podcast. As I listened to Dr. van der Kolk, I realized that there is still hope for me to get better, to feel less disabled. Thank you! I am looking forward to an appointment with an EMDR practitioner in my area.

Please forward to Bessel van der Kolk:

As part of that effort, I'm also looking at the "individual" psychic immune system, and all I seem to be able to find is that individuals with positive affect have stronger physical immune systems, or that individuals with stronger family ties and support systems, have higher resistance to disease.

I'm less interested in physiological immunity than psychological immunity.

Your paper on repetition compulsion is excellent, but there we see individuals repeating traumatic experiences.

I'm looking for empirical evidence that individuals exposed to trauma tend to avoid those situations in the future, that is that they learn from traumatic exposures and their own mistakes and repeat these events less and less. The same way that you were once exposed to influenza, the second time around, your immune response is stronger and your infection weaker.

That a psychological immune response develops, or is conditioned, and that through learning and exposure, psychological defenses and immunities are conditioned and increase in strength.. . . that's what I'm looking for. We don't know the name of any of these psychological antibodies that develop. I'm eager to find them, identify them (or name them), and cite evidence for their existence.

Can you suggest any sources, articles, or directions I might follow?

Jerry Kroth, Ph.D.
Associate Professor Emeritus
Santa Clara University

So....music has soothing qualities...ho would have known!

Very helpful discussion. Thank you

I've been into yoga for the past few month and I would like to say that it really helps my body feel much better than ever. I've taken a yoga class before and the instructor was really helpful and keep motivating us.
Right now I changed my yoga style and tried stand up paddle boards yoga (SUP Yoga). Really really enjoy yoga on paddle boards. You guys should try it out. If you are interested in SUP yoga and want to find SUP boards that is best for you, check out my site http://paddleboardous.com/. I'd really happy if it's help you guys. :)

I was systematically abused both psychologically and physically by my mother in the name of love from the time I was born until I left home at 18. I have had years of therapy, practice yoga, garden, have raised children, have a successful career and am still married to the same man after 45 years.

I thought the abuse I suffered was dormant in me. Now however at 67 I am helping to care for my 98 year old mother. Until I heard Dr. Kolk's and Krista Tippett's piece on Sunday I couldn't figure out why I am having various infections and health issues as well as being depressed and increasingly angry when there is no cause that I can see in my present life. While listening to Dr. Kolk I had a flashback to a particularly brutal abuse by my mother and grandmother. I can't shake it...it's a feeling story in my body like a black hole lined with razor wire. It's as if all my soul work, talk therapy and self awareness can't fool my body. There is work to be done.