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Impact of Trauma on the Developing Brain

Clinical Master Class Evening held on 12 June 2013

The recorded lectures are available to be viewed for a small fee at Owl Talks Lectures.

The Impact of Trauma on Brain Development

Dr Pieter Rossouw, PhD

In this clinical master class evening presentation Dr Pieter Rossouw will focus on the impact of trauma on brain development, exploring on the basic principles of neural development, neural proliferation and plasticity and the effects of violation of basic needs on the developing brain. Research demonstrates that optimal neural growth is facilitated in “enriched environments”. The key facilitators of enrich environments are briefly discussed with special focus on the role of attachment and control.  The neural correlates of these needs are explored and considered in terms of violations of these needs. The effects of these violations and key indicators (age, duration and intensity) are explored in relation to changes in neurochemical releases, neural activation, neural structures and ultimately changes in neural networks. The implications of these changes in terms of resilience and relapse are also discussed. Indicators for interventions to effectively address trauma from neural perspective are explored with guidelines for clinical practice.

Multimodal Approach in Treating the Impact of Trauma in Refugee Children

Mirjana Askovic, Psychologist

Most of us can take for granted the effortless capacity to integrate what we see, hear and feel into a coherent stream of conciousness. But when traumatic experiences and environments impair the development of a child’s basic cognitive processes, higher-level capacities are also compromised, undermining their ability to deal with academic, social and emotional challenges. Children growing up in the context of refugee trauma are often deprived of conditions required for healthy brain development. Impaired development of basic cognitive processes may frustrate efforts to remedy higher-level problems, if untreated. Assessing and treating such impairments is thus a vital component of successful therapy with refugee children. In this presentation Mirjana will describe a case of an Iraqi child in which she integrated neurofeedback with psychotherapy and sand tray therapy, to facilitate the child’s recovery from refugee trauma. First she will briefly outline the rationale for this multimodal approach, and then she will discuss the treatment process as it actually happened.

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