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Many of the wounds people sustain in developmental trauma occur when the right brain is developing, which is tied to the autonomic nervous system and the polyvagal nervous system. While talk therapy can be helpful in recovery from trauma and addiction, many of the therapies we employ as practitioners can be improved upon by using techniques that access the right side of the brain, where the original traumas occurred.

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  1. 1. Carlos Martinez, M.Div., MSMHC, LPC, ACS, CET II, CSAT Candidate Clinical Supervisor, Onsite Workshops
  2. 2. The Right Brain and Experiential Therapy
  3. 3. Questions that people will ask in therapy: Was It Even Trauma? Do I deserve to be here?
  4. 4. People will tend to ask these questions as a function of their denial
  5. 5. What is hard for clinicians sometimes is understanding that the client needs to deny their reality because they are not ready to grieve their losses
  6. 6. While the clients’ minds may tell them it wasn’t real, their bodies will tell a different story. We need to learn how to attune to that other story
  7. 7. ?
  8. 8. DSM V DEFINITION OF PTSD Criterion A (one required): The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, in the following way(s): • Direct exposure • Witnessing the trauma • Learning that a relative or close friend was exposed to a trauma • Indirect exposure to aversive details of the trauma, usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, medics) Criterion B (one required): The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced, in the following way(s): • Unwanted upsetting memories • Nightmares • Flashbacks • Emotional distress after exposure to traumatic reminders • Physical reactivity after exposure to traumatic reminders
  9. 9. POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes. Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects and situations that bring on distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it. Negative thoughts and feelings may include ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; or feeling detached or estranged from others. Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being easily startled; or having problems concentrating or sleeping.
  10. 10. What can you relate to?
  11. 11. THIS IS TRAUMA
  12. 12. THIS IS TRAUMA
  13. 13. RESPONSES TO TRAUMA • Codependency • Drinking/using drugs • Self-harm • Dissociation • Use of pornography • Sex, affairs • Gambling • Eating • Suicidal thoughts
  14. 14. Esther Perel Time does not exist on its own. You have to give it meaning. You have to shape it.
  15. 15. WAS IT TRAUMA? • It was trauma • You have every right to your experience • You have a right to your pain and your story • Your history is not your destiny
  16. 16. Bibliography Badenoch, B. (2008). Being a Brain-Wise Therapist. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Inc. Dana, D. (2018). The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy. Yew York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc. Dayton, T. (2015). Neuropsychodrama in the Treatment of Relational Trauma. Deerfield Beach: Health Communications, Inc. Harris, N. B. (2015, Feb 17). How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime. Retrieved from YouTube: How Trauma Can Impact Four Types of Memory [Infographic]. (2017). Retrieved from National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine: Jane Ellen Stevens. (n.d.). Got Your ACE Score? Retrieved from ACES too high: Levine, P. (2010). In An Unspoken Voice. Berkely: North Atlantic Books. Office for Victims of Crime, United States Departmentof Justice. (2017, Jan 23). The Neurobiology of Trauma and Sexual Assault. Retrieved from Slideshare: assault?from_action=save Schore, A. (2019). Right Brain Psychotherapy. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc. Starecheski, L. (2015, March 2). Take The ACE Quiz — And Learn What It Does And Doesn't Mean. Retrieved from NPR: Tronick, E. (2009, Nov 30). Still Face Experiment: Dr. Edward Tronick. Retrieved from YouTube: (2017, Dec 08). Where Should We Begin? Season 1 ep 3. (E. Perel, Interviewer)