On May 8 Bruce Perry spoke about Childhood Trauma and the Brain in front of massive audience of about 1300 people during an event organized by Options for Recovery.
Bruce Perry’s message is in essence a very hopeful and encouraging one for the treatment of traumatized children and adults. As the brain is a malleable, plastic organ, it can be changed and ‘healed’ by an intentional therapeutic practice that keeps in mind the findings of neurobiological research. Perry regrets that policy makers and current ‘evidence based practices’ are typically at odds with those findings. He advocates a treatment approach that mimics the development of the brain: ‘from the bottom up,’ with the more primitive parts of the brain developing first. The first brain structures to develop are the brainstem (regulating heart beat, respiration, stress response), and the cerebellum and diencepalhon (motor function control, hearing, vision, smell, taste and touch perception), followed by the limbic system (emotional and relational) and then the cortex (cognition, believes). Traumatized children typically have disorganized lower brain functions, and a fortiori even more disorganized higher brain functions. It is crucial that therapy addressws the disorganization of the lower functions first, with interventions that are specifically tailored to regulating and strengthening the parts of the brain that are disorganized. A typical Cognitive-Behavioral approach, which focuses on engaging the higher functions in modulating emotions and motor behaviors is ill informed from this perspective.Read More