Monday, March 05, 2012

Healing the Generations 2012

I had the privilege of attending the Healing the Generations conference at Foxwoods this past Thursday and Friday. As usual, Alice Forrester and her Clifford Beers team put together a highly informative and restorative conference, with great organization and good food. The theme of this year’s conference was Trauma and the Brain.
What struck me the most was the fact that many different researchers and practioners, all coming from difference disciplines, focus and research methods all reach the same basic conclusions. These seem to be…
Relationships matter. There is so much evidence now of neglect and abuse impacting brain development, and of the possibility for healing within relationships.
Childhood stress impacts brain development in many areas, and thus has great implications for both education and physical health.
Healing cannot be maximized with just verbal interventions. Treatment that includes body based activities has the most potential. These include EMDR, yoga and meditation, but also include walking, rocking, tossing a ball back and forth, etc.
Music has tremendous power to organize, heal and sooth the brain.
I also learned about several promising treatment programs that were showing results with both children and parents. One interesting approach presented by Phil Fisher, PhD. From Harvard videotaped parents’ interactions with their children and then edited out clips of the parents doing good things, like attending and responding to their child. They played these clips back to the parents and said, do more of this. I liked the building-on-strengths approach.
Another intervention called RULER was described by Marc Brackett, PhD. It was a method for teaching emotional intelligence within schools. Dr. Brackett stressed the importance of teaching the method to “everyone with a face” including administration, cafeteria staff, teachers, etc. It sounded very promising.
I presented on Using the New Brain Science to Do More Effective Treatment…and Have more Fun at Work. I got a lot of compliments on my presentation.
One of the most moving workshops I attended was a dramatic skit about vicarious traumatization by the Post Traumatic Stress Center in New Haven. Through a play they demonstrated the feelings of vicarious trauma that are part of our work. It generated a lively discussion among the audience.
Over all, a very worthwhile experience.

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