The Physiology of Trauma

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11 March 2023

Time: 10:00 - 16:00

Price: Qualified Practitioners £85; Counselling/Psychotherapy Trainees £75; WPF Therapy Trainee £60s/Staff

Location: online


Although there are psychological aspects to trauma, relating to disturbing memories, images, thoughts and feelings, it is actually a physiological, physical experience and gaining an understanding of this can greatly assist psychotherapists to engage with and work with clients living with high levels of trauma.

When the Fight / Flight / Freeze Mechanism is triggered, the brain instructs the body to literally fight the danger, run away from it or go numb and dissociate to reduce the impact if an assault cannot be avoided. This leads to physical changes to the body and the non-verbal areas of the brain, over which language and talking can have limited effect.

Physical interventions, including grounding and breathing, Yoga and other forms of movement are often required for the client to be able to self-regulate, bringing themselves back into the Window of Tolerance, where effective therapy to process the underlying memory can take place.

Understanding what happens physically in the body during trauma and learning practical skills and techniques to resolve these changes can greatly enhance a therapist’s practice and enable them to better assist clients.

Workshop Aims

By attending this workshop you can expect:

  • To understand the physiology of trauma, including the Fight / Flight / Freeze Mechanism, the Endocrine System and the Sympathetic and Para-Sympathetic Nervous Systems.
  • To understand the Window of Tolerance and the link between this and the Fight / Flight / Freeze Mechanism. To understand and explain the different approaches to helping a client move from either the Hyper-aroused or Hypo-aroused positions back into the Window.
  • To understand the Three Phase Model of trauma intervention, the role  trauma-focused therapies including EMDR and Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET), can play within it and to have practiced trauma-focused therapeutic techniques in role play.
  • To have learnt and practiced a range of practical techniques to help clients self-regulate, including grounding techniques, breathing, progressive relaxation and visualisation and to be able to explain the neurological and physiological thinking behind these techniques.

The workshop will cover:

  1. The physiology and biology of trauma, including the Fight / Flight / Freeze Mechanism and the nervous system.
  2. The Window of Tolerance.
  3. The Three Phased Model of Trauma Intervention, developed by Pierre Janet, Judith Herman and others.
  4. Learning and practicing physical intervention techniques including grounding, breathing, progressive relaxation and visualization and understanding their role in the Three Phased Model.
  5. An Overview of EMDR and Narrative Exposure Therapy approaches and learning and practicing techniques from NET.

Andrew Keefe: Is a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist, EMDR Therapist and Personal Trainer(Level 4 Lower Back Pain Specialist) and Boxercise Coach. He works in private practice in East London and the City, specializing in work with survivors of childhood sexual abuse, abusive relationships, sexual violence and Birth Trauma. He uses fitness, especially outdoor fitness, therapeutically to help people improve their mental health and wellbeing and to process emotion held in the body. Before private practice, he worked for sixteen years in clinical roles at the British Refugee Council and then Freedom from Torture, working with traumatized refugees and survivors of torture. He is a former Director of Clinic at WPF. Since the start of the pandemic, he has been working with clients, including health professionals, living with Covid-related trauma, grief and anxiety.

Target Audience:

Qualified and training psychotherapists, counsellors, clinical psychologists and other health professionals.

Please note that by booking a ticket for this event, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions for CPD events, so please read through them carefully before making your purchase.

If you experience any problems during the application process then please e-mail us.

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