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Improved knowledge of Trauma Memory and Responses from Neuroscience

Neuroscience study has improved our comprehension of how trauma affects the mind and body in the 1990s and the early 21st century.

In Traumatic Stress, van der Kolk, McFarlane, and Weisaeth (1996) note that when a terrifying incident like trauma is experienced and does not fit into a contextual memory, a new memory or dissociation is established and memories are "stored initially as sensory fragments that have no linguistic components" and furthermore, "that intrusive sensations, even after the construction of a narrative, contradict the notion that learning to put the traumatic experience I (p. 289).

A further explanation provided by Michaesu and Baeltig (1996) is that memories of trauma are "implicitly" maintained in iconic and sensory forms rather than "explicitly" (cognitively) or within a context. Images and feelings are essentially how trauma memories are felt and recalled.

According to Terr (1994), the emotional and perceptual content of trau-matized people's memories predominates over declarative elements. Steele (2003) adds that memory remains at a symbolic (iconic) level because it cannot be connected verbally in a context; instead, only sensations and visuals may be used to explain it. It is necessary to recall and implicitly externalize traumatic experience in its symbolic (iconic) sensory forms before it can be stored, communicated through language, and effectively integrated (p. 142).

Therefore, rather of using cognitive processes, the trauma experience can be transmitted more effectively through imagery and activities linked to the sensory memories of those events (Malchiodi, 2001, 2008).

According to some writers, PTSD and trauma responses have a mind-body relationship. According to Levine (1997), trauma is largely felt by children and adolescents.

Trauma-Informed Practices With Children and Adolescents

He suggests that extra energy needed for self-defense must be consumed when children's physiological survival mechanisms are aroused by threat. It doesn't just vanish if that energy isn't completely released and digested. Instead, it continues to exist as a form of intense bodily memory that can lead to recurrent traumatic symptoms.

In The Body Remembers, Rothschild (2000) notes that the physical memories of the feelings experienced at the moment of trauma are kept alongside cognitive memories and are triggered when subsequent identical situations occur.

Rothschild's observations are echoed by Bessel van der Kolk (2006), who claims that "for therapy to be effective it might be useful to focus on the patient's physical self-experience and increase their self-awareness, rather than focusing exclusively on the meaning that people make of their experience."

For working with children at risk, Perry (2006) offers the neurosequential model of therapeutics (NMT), a developmentally aware, physiologically respectful approach. NMT is not a particular therapeutic approach or intervention; rather, it is a means to arrange the children's past and present functioning in order to best inform the therapeutic process. It encompasses the child, family, and community as a whole and includes a number of key neurodevelopmental and traumatology principles.

The NMT approach assists in matching the type and timing of certain therapy procedures to the child's developmental stage, as well as to the brain area and neural networks that are most likely mediating the neuropsychiatric issues.


Mimi Rothschild

Mimi Rothschild is the Founder and CEO of the Global Grief Institute which provides Certification training programs forGrief Coach, Trauma Coach, End of Life Coach, and Children's Grief Coach. She is a survivor who has buried 3 of her children and her husband of 33 years. She is available for speaking engagements and comments to the press on any issue surrounding thriving after catastrophic loss. MEDIA INQUIRIES:

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