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At this stage in history, Research in the areas of Attachment, Trauma, and the functioning of the human mind and brain seems to be of paramount importance for the fate of billions of people. Every year hundreds of studies bring to light interesting new discoveries and insights that slowly reveal new ways to help people overcome complex problems related to Psychological Trauma and very negative early experiences. The Congress on Attachment and Trauma, after past editions that have been attended by more than 2,000 participants from more than 40 countries, aims to bring together the world's leading experts in the fields of Attachment, Trauma, Neurophysiology, Mindfulness and Psychotherapy in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the subtle links between life experiences, genetic predisposition, relationships and compassion, so that in clinical practice we can create the necessary conditions for those suffering to overcome their problems. During this edition of the Congress it will be possible to ask thirty minutes of questions to each individual speaker and sixty minutes of questions during the Round Tables. The Attachment and Trauma Congress is an unmissable opportunity to meet live those who are changing the landscape of world Psychotherapy and Mental Health and their vast knowledge.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RIGHT BRAIN THROUGHOUT LIFE: WHAT IS LOVE'S ROLE IN THIS PROCESS
A significant number of neuroimaging studies on love in childhood and adulthood will be interpreted from the perspective of regulation theory, in order to deepen our understanding of the origins of attachment in the right brain and the underlying psychoneurobiological mechanisms related to the ability to form and maintain strong emotional bonds of mutual love.
After introducing the topic and providing the basics, recent developmental neuroi- maging studies on the influence of maternal love in infants and con- ceptualisations of maternal love, a model of the initial onset of reciprocal love at 2/3 months, and then the current state of adult neuroanatomy and conceptualisations of adult love will be discussed. In the final section, research and clinical data will be integrated to model the neuroanatomy, neuropsychology and neuropsycho- lysis of this fundamental marker of what it means to be human.
EMOTIONS IN ACTION: REGULATION AND RECOGNITION OF EMOTIONS IN YOUNG VICTIMS OF TRAUMA AND NEGLECT.
According to a widely accepted perspective, the experience of a given emotion and the expression of that emotion are two distinct and separate processes. I propose an alternative view: the behaviour associated with a specific emotion is part of the emotion itself. My paper will present and illustrate recent neuroscientific studies that show the connection between experience and expression of emotions. Furthermore, I will present recent empirical research on the impact that trauma and neglect have on emotion regulation and recognition in children and young adolescents.
RELATIONALITY AS A BIOLOGICAL IMPERATIVE: UNDERSTANDING THE CONSEQUENCES OF TRAUMA, ABUSE, CHRONIC STRESS THROUGH THE LENS OF POLYVAGAL THEORY.
The Polyvagal Theory expands our understanding of normal and atypical behaviour, mental health and psychiatric disorders. Integrating a developmental perspective, Polyvagal Theory illustrates how the maturation of the autonomic nervous system forms the neural 'platform' upon which social behaviour and the development of trusting relationships rest. It also explains how reactions to danger and threats to life, and experiences of abuse and trauma, can regulate our nervous system so that we respond to friends, care- givers and teachers as if they were predators. The theory may be helpful to professionals in distinguishing contextual characteristics that trigger defences from those that are calming and supportive of spontaneous social involvement.
CAN THE EFFECTS OF TRAUMA BE PASSED ON TO THE NEXT GENERATION?
Recent advances in molecular biology, genomics and epigenomics have now offered new paradigms for understanding the long-term effects of stress. This presentation will focus on the intergenerational transmission of a particularly long-lasting effect of stress, trauma. Most of the research has been conducted on adult children of Holocaust survivor parents, but has now been generalised to include other types of people born to trauma survivors, such as children born to women who were in the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attack. Research has thus evolved to explain the contribution of early environmental experiences, including the
parental care, on highly conserved molecular and genomic mechanisms. In themselves, these changes are not synonymous with pathology but offer a pa- radigm for understanding the long-term effects of profoundly important events. Work has already led to a better understanding of biological risk factors for PTSD and predictors of outcome in response to trauma.
THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF HEALING. A FRAMEWORK FOR OVERCOMING ISOLATION AND IMPLEMENTING TRANSFORMATIVE INTERVENTION IN AEDP.
The AEDP (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy) has four fundamental aspects that enable it to reliably implement an
transformational work and turning suffering into growth: (I) a healing orientation and the conviction, supported by neurobiology and the
recent advances in the field of neuroplasticity, that we are organisms with an inherent self-righting capacity and motivational tendency towards health, healing and growth that, in the right environments, can be enhanced in clinical action; (II) overcoming the isolation that people experience when faced with overwhelming emotional experiences, by means of an attachment-based therapeutic stance and dyadic affective regulation techniques (III) a mobilisation of subcortical affective systems specialised in adapting to environmental changes, implemented by rapidly transforming behaviour through experiential interventions and transformational work with intense emotions; and (IV) metatherapeutic processing techniques in which, by intervening experientially with the experience of transformation and the positive emotions invariably associated with moments of change for the better, endless upward spirals of positive emotions are systematically activated. Positive emotions that feed the self with energy and vitality are the vehicles that actually reshape the brain. AEDP places special emphasis on co-creating safety: accompanied, patients may run the risk of revisiting past traumas and suffering. Healing and neuroplasticity are initiated by fully experiencing previously feared emotions within a safe relationship and by explicit, gentle but focused attention to the experience of healing within the patient-therapist relationship. By fully processing both traumatic and reparative emotional peri-periences, the AEDP process culminates in vitality, energy and the endless spirals, fuelled by the positive emotions, of resilience, well-being and creativity so closely related to health. Audio-visual recordings of AEDP in action will be used to explain how emotional suffering can be not only mitigated but systematically and reliably transformed into resilience, growth and wellbeing.
THERAPY FOCUSED ON COMPASSION, FEAR BLOCKS AND RESISTANCE TO COMPASSION.
This presentation will briefly outline the nature of compassion and how it is used in therapeutic interventions and personal change. In the early stages of the development of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), however, it became clear that many people showed considerable resistance to both the idea and feelings of compassion. We will illustrate some of the research on fear of compassion together with methods through which therapists can work with these difficulties. TFC makes use of exposure-based interventions and, therefore, it is central to facilitating people to increase their ability to experience and tolerate affiliative emotions.
THE GLOBAL AND INCREASINGLY WIDESPREAD PHENOMENON OF MINDFULNESS: ITS MEANING, ITS PREMISE AND ITS DANGERS.
A web conversation with Alessandro Carmelita and the conference audience. In this joint analysis with Alessandro Carmelita, Jon Kabat Zinn will illustrate the widespread and rapidly growing interest in mindfulness and its effective cultivated practice around the world, and examine how these profound cultural shifts have taken place and what this might mean for participants at the international conference. Kabat Zinn will also highlight the roots of MBSR and other mindfulness-based interventions in the dharma, particularly in the Chan/Zen and Theravada traditions, and the emergence and gradual blossoming of mindfulness over the past forty years in these and other forms in the medical, health and psychological fields (and currently in education, business, government, criminal justice, law, professional sports, as well as the military). He will then highlight the potential considerable impact of mindfulness training as a public health initiative aimed at cultivating greater health and well-being, clarity and wisdom, and altruism and kindness in both the individual and society, and ultimately globally. In our talk, we will highlight its ethical roots in the Dharma traditions of its origin, as well as in the medical field, and discuss the potential dangers of the over-popularity and commercialisation of mindfulness, divorced from a deep practice and its ethical underpinnings and perhaps reduced to a mere (misinterpreted) concept, rather than being understood as a permanent invitation to recognise and embody what is deepest and best in all of humanity and within each of us, individually.
A DISEASE OF THE SOUL: UNDERSTANDING AND TREATING CHRONIC SHAME.
Frequently, chronic shame lies at the root of impasses, resistance and relational detachment in psychotherapy. It is an important factor in ongoing peacemaking behaviour, revictimisation, anger, self-harm, substance abuse, isolation, dissociation, and more. Childhood abuse and neglect constitute risk factors for chronic shame, and it is an important mediator between childhood abuse and adult psychopathology, e.g. dissociation. By its very nature, shame is almost always hidden from others, including the therapist. Shame is re-experienced in the same way as a traumatic memory, with symptoms of intrusion, avoidance and arousal, and must therefore be approached carefully within the patient's window of tolerance. In the course of therapy, the therapist and also the patient often avoid the vergo- gna and, once recognised, both try to eradicate it as quickly as possible. However, the therapeutic approach to all other emotions is primarily to accept them with compassion and understanding, not to eliminate them. The same should also happen with shame. Therapists often have the impres- sion that they do not possess sufficient skills to deal with this feeling effectively, as it is very powerful, embedded, and causes alienation and detachment. Indeed, talking about shame is often not effective because its physiology involves a temporary loss of cognitive and verbal abilities. We will explore the various functions of shame and its inner dynamics in internal operating models and dissociated parts of the self. We will discuss how an integration of top-down and bottom-up interventions can transform chronic shame into relational connection, self-compassion and competence, and ways to help patients (and therapists) develop resilience in the face of shame reactions. More importantly, we will explore how to be with shame - our own and patients' - with curiosity and compassion, finding ways to deeply attune to it, and repair it, within a relational space.
THE DIFFICULT CLIENT: CULTIVATING THE RESOURCE OF THE BODY THROUGH THE LENS OF SENSORIMOTOR PSYCHOTHERAPY.
Posture and movement are direct pathways to our clients' potential and what holds them back from realising it. But therapists are often concerned that clients are excessively destabilised, dissociated, body-phobic, low-functioning, or otherwise have another type of difficulty that makes it a challenge for them to benefit from Body Psychotherapy. Nevertheless, these types of individuals may coincide exactly with those who stand to gain the most from a somatic approach. A first advantage of somatic work lies in the fact that the client's movements and posture can be observed and addressed directly and objectively in clinical practice. However, so-called 'difficult' or 'impossible' clients may consider somatic interventions as triggering, anxiety-generating, shameful, unpleasant or a waste of time. It is possible, then, that some individuals are apprehensive about performing movements that would make them feel uncomfortable, strange or 'silly'. Therapists themselves may be nervous about inviting clients to be aware of their bodies, change posture or explore movement. Frequently, then, neither patients nor therapists understand the original wisdom of old tendencies to physical action or how to modify them to respond more adaptively to current circumstances. The presentation will focus on the difficulties, risks and rewards of integrating the body into clinical practice with 'resistant' or otherwise 'difficult' clients, including those with a dissociative disorder, addictions, with repeated hospitalisation, and those who are sceptical of body psychotherapy. Emphasis will also be placed on the spiritual and philosophical founding principles underlying Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. In addition to technique, these principles define the quality of the therapeutic relationship in creating a compassionate atmosphere conducive to exploring the body as a resource for psychological healing.
THE EMBODIED AND RELATIONAL MIND IN PSYCHOTHERAPY: THE VISION OF INTERPERSONAL NEUROBIOLOGY.
Why is it that in the field of mental health, there is practically no definition of 'mental' or 'health'? Not only in clinical professions such as medicine and psychotherapy, but also in academia, from neuroscience to anthropology, there is no definition of the term 'mind'. In this presentation, this singular conclusion will be discussed and the benefits of exploring the mind in detail: what the mind is, what a healthy mind would be, and how therapists can cultivate a healthy mind on the basis of scientific findings.
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