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The Body Keeps the Score: How Trauma Affects the Developing Brain, Mind, and Body

The book the Body Keeps the Score eloquently articulates how overwhelming experiences affect the development of brain, mind, and body awareness, all of which are closely intertwined. It is a “must-read” for anyone who works with children or teens who have faced adversity, as well as for anyone interested in how early life experiences shape brain development and subsequent health and well-being across the lifespan.

In his book, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk weaves together a comprehensive understanding of the neurobiology of trauma and its impact on brain development, physiology, and behavior. He then expertly translates this complex material into practical application for assessment and treatment. The book is rich with clinical examples that illustrate how trauma survivors often present in therapy with dissociative symptoms, reenactment of traumatic events, self-destructive behaviors, and/or problems regulating emotions. Van der Kolk emphasizes that it is essential to understand both the neurobiology of trauma and each individual’s unique experience of trauma in order to provide effective treatment.

One of the most compelling aspects of The Body Keeps the Score is van der Kolk’s description of how different types of therapies can be integrated to address the various ways that trauma affects brain development, mind, and body. He writes: “Effective treatment must pay attention to all these dimensions in order to help people become more aware of their present circumstances rather than be perpetually hijacked by their past…After years spent working with survivors, I have come to believe that it is impossible to heal psychologically without also paying attention to the physical dimension”. In other words, simply talking about what happened will not be enough; survivors need opportunities to “move through” their experiences in their bodies as well as their minds in order to truly heal.

The Body Keeps the Score is an important book for anyone interested in better understanding how trauma affects brain development, mind, and body across the lifespan. It provides a comprehensive overview of the latest research on the neurobiology of trauma and its impact on human development and behavior. The book also offers practical guidance on how to integrate different types of therapies in order to provide effective treatment for trauma survivors.

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