Short Talks

Half Day

The following workshops are typically 3 to 4 hours in length, including a break and time for Q&A.

  • Somatic Therapies: An Introduction to Working with the Body to Heal Trauma and Chronic Stress

    Grounded in an understanding of psychophysiology, this 4 hour introductory workshop will provide an overview of core principles and skills to work with trauma more safely. With the recognition that simply re-telling the story can trigger and reinforce emotional and physical dysregulation, we can instead focus on the current beneath the words in order to support self-regulation and the renegotiation of self-protective charge left held in the body. Drawing on the works of Peter Levine, Stephen Porges, Pat Ogden and other trauma experts advocating a staged approach to trauma treatment, this workshop will provide an introduction to the importance of safety and stabilization skills as a way to work with a client’s story and the felt sense in a way that supports embodied self-regulation. Topics covered include: the window of tolerance and activation cycle models; recognizing patterns of constriction and expansion, tracking escalation and settling in the nervous system, titration, orienting, grounding, resourcing and containment. Participants will also be provided with a list of books, apps and MP3s to share with clients as tools to supplement healing, and additional resources for further learning and training.

  • Somatics and Attachment: Bringing the Body into Couples Therapy

    Offering an overview of trauma neuroscience and how it intersects with attachment theory, this 3 hour workshop explores the importance of tracking and working with arousal modulation when working with nervous systems in couples therapy. Integrating the window of tolerance and activation cycle models, inspired by poly-vagal theory and taught in Somatic Experiencing, participants will be introduced to the importance of listening to the body story as an often overlooked undercurrent to the verbal narrative. Parallels and areas of divergence from Emotion-Focused Therapy will be explored. The importance of titration will be presented, as will experiential exercises that will help clinicians to experience their own felt sense and explore interpersonal boundaries in attachment relationships from a somatic perspective. Information on where to obtain further training in Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Somatic Attachment, the Neuroaffective Relational Model and the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy will be provided.

Fireside Chats

These “lunch and learn” conference style workshops range from 60 minutes to 2 hours in length, offering an overview of various topics with time for Q&A.

  • The Principles of Trauma-Informed Services

    Offering a review of the literature on trauma-informed services, this presentation will cover core principles to keep in mind when working with clients or patients in health, community or social services settings. An overview of the impact of overwhelming experiences on the brain, body, behaviour and our capacity for relationships will set the tone and provide the rationale for adopting a trauma lens when working in a health or helping capacity, whether trauma is disclosed or not.

  • Trauma Therapy: Alternative Options and Approaches to Treatment

    More people in the health and social services fields are recognizing that working with trauma is a particular specialization requiring additional training in order to support complex clients skillfully and safely. However, it can be difficult to know where to begin and what is out there beyond cognitive-behavioural models. This presentation will explain the differences between top down and bottom up approaches to processing trauma, and provide an overview of some of the most cutting edge integrative approaches that combine neuroscience, working with somatics, early developmental character development, and attachment. A review and comparison of Somatic Experiencing and its offshoots, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Body Memory Recall, Brainspotting, Bodynamics, EMDR and the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) will be provided.

  • Somatic Experiencing: Working with the Body to Heal Trauma

    This presentation will explore the impact of attachment and shock trauma on the nervous system, and how incomplete fight / flight / freeze responses result in a state of dysregulation that masquerades as a variety of mental and physical health diagnoses.  Somatic Experiencing will be introduced as a distinct holistic modality at the intersections of neuroscience and spirituality, body work and energy modalities, and top down and bottom up approaches to therapy.  Compelling case examples will be provided to showcase the importance of supporting the body to complete self-protective responses, discharge and unwind, to support greater embodiment, regulation, selfhood, agency and capacity for healthy relationships and boundaries. The role of attunement in cultivating therapeutic presence as a core condition for recovery will also be demonstrated.

  • Healing with Horses: The Power of Equine-Facilitated Therapy

    More and more people are returning to nature to heal from their experiences and move forward in new and inspiring ways. This talk will provide the rationale as to why horses have much to teach us and how taking therapy outdoors via structured interactions with these creatures can foster learning and growth at an experiential level conducive to lasting change. Differences between types of equine-based approaches will be reviewed to provide a better understanding of the types of interventions that exist. Powerful stories from the EquuSpirit program will be shared to exemplify the potent nature of this work, as an adjunct to other forms of therapy or as a standalone modality.

  • Reducing the Risks of Abstinence Through Emotional Regulation

    Many addictions programs focus on ending reliance on external substances or behaviours through 12-step, cognitive-behavioural or motivational interviewing strategies.  However, for many clients, these top-down approaches don’t address the deeper body and emotional symptoms that seem to operate from a more instinctual place and are unresponsive to traditional methods. Also, removing the addiction without addressing the underlying reasons for it can result in the development of new addictions to manage what is missing internally — an internal capacity to regulate emotions; heal core beliefs or shame; tolerate distress or pain; or feel more alive.  This workshop will explore the impact of attachment- and shock-trauma on the nervous system, and how stuck fight/flight/freeze responses result in a state of dysregulation (hyper/hypo-arousal) that is difficult to manage.  It will also explore self-regulation as a form of harm reduction to help clients reduce risks by build greater safety and stabilization within.

  • Harm Reduction Through a Trauma-Informed Lens

    Addictions often serve a self-regulatory purpose. As a result, asking clients to abstain from their management strategy without addressing the underlying trauma and dysregulation often sets them up for failure and shame as they shift from one behaviour/addiction to another in an attempt to find relief and stability. Offering an overview of trauma neuroscience and attachment theory, this workshop will emphasize the importance of understanding client symptoms and behaviours through a trauma-informed lens, emphasizing the window of tolerance model and signs of hyper- and hypo-arousal.

  • Addictions, Trauma and the Body: Somatic Principles for Self-Regulation

    Addictions are common management strategies for underlying symptoms of trauma: dysregulation, disconnection, disorganization, disorientation and dissociation. Helping restore regulation, connection, coherence, orientation and integration are therefore crucial components of healing and recovery. Drawing from the theory and practice of Somatic Experiencing, this workshop will provide concrete frameworks and practical tools for understanding and working more effectively with emotional and physiological arousal patterns underlying addictions.

  • Walking the Edge of the Thin Blue Line: Managing the Effects of Frontline Work

    Along with military personnel, those who make a career in law enforcement face very specific demands and overwhelming stressors that place them at risk of vicarious trauma and burnout. This talk will focus on the impact of chronic stress and facing constant threat on the body, emotions and mind, to reduce the shame and stigma associated with seeking help. Grounded in the latest neurobiological research on trauma and PTSD, quick tips and practical exercises for managing stress will be offered to help police officers assess when they are past the edge of their window of tolerance and how to come back within it.

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