Scholarly Saturday – #PTSD and #Neuroscience

Scholarly Saturday- PTSD and Neuroscience

Two recent articles that I have read about neuroscience have made me think carefully about its clinical implications.  It basically questions the notion of what neglect does to the brain and how to treat it. And a rebuttal to that article:

This got my wheels spinning in a case that I am “stuck on.”  It is young man who is really struggling with PTSD. I have to give credit to the rebuttal article and it’s author Jane Evans (  She pointed me to the work of Perry (2009) that provides framework of integrating neuroscience with clinical intervention, especially with trauma. He provides a framework called The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT). When treating trauma, no matter what intervention you choose, it should be informed by the area of the brain most effected by the trauma and not the behaviors. This includes doing a good developmental assessment to determine what areas of the brain are effected. In terms if interventions, Perry (2009) argues that we should look beyond 1 hour of therapy ..

“This may involve initially focusing on a poorly organized brainstem/diencephalon and the related self-regulation, attention, arousal, and impulsivity by using any variety of patterned, repetitive somatosensory activities (which provide these brain areas with the patterned neural activation necessary for reorganization) such as music, movement, yoga (breathing), and drumming or therapeuticmassage. Once there is improvement in self-regulation, the therapeutic work can move to more relational-related problems (limbic) using more traditional play or arts therapies; ultimately, once fundamental dyadic relational skills have improved, the therapeutic techniques can be more verbal and insightoriented (cortical) using any variety of cognitive-behavioral or psychodynamic approach.”

This made me think about what we could be doing differently for this young man that I am working with now. This reframe has been helpful as he engages in a lot of risky behaviors.  We often treat the risky behaviors but we need to treat the area of the brain that may activate these risky behaviors. This provides validation to the feeling the therapist and I had that we are “missing something” with this young man. I hope that this may help you with PTSD through a different “lens.”

Examining Child Maltreatment Through a Neurodevelopmental Lens: Clinical Applications of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics. Journal of Loss and Trauma  Vol 14 page 240-255

Link to article:

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2 thoughts on “Scholarly Saturday – #PTSD and #Neuroscience

  1. Nice, informative and you have some wisdom to impart.

    All this gets so complex, so in the weeds of science we end up being over loaded.

    I am not a therapist, have not a formal education but if have read over a 150 books on trauma, neuroscience the brain, adrenal stress response, mindfulness, dissociation and healing.

    Rick Hanson in Buddhas brain say we have at the cellular level one with a million zeroes behind it as opportunity, different choice every second.

    Neuroscience is a new science, we really only know what parts of the brain light up with different activities. We have a snapshot a small picture of a sedentary moment.

    You have to know that there are a billion other brain functions happening at the same time and science has no clue how it works.

    Trauma PTSD can play no defense. When it is at the apex of its strength the firing of the fight or flight mechanism, the dumping of cortisol and preparing for lethal threat is also it most vulnerable.

    If you want to help trauma sufferers help them breathe and stay present when trauma explodes,,while letting the storyline of trauma fade, while following the body sensations.

    Trauma old implicit memories stored in the amygdala will start integrating to present moment

    Healing is on the way and PTSD will collapse quickly.

    This is just practical for me and how at my low as an agoraphobic PTSD had landed me as a prisoner in my dark garage for six months.



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