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The Body Keeps the Score


Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma takes a detailed, well-researched, and multidisciplinary approach to discussing trauma and how it can be treated clinically. The book approaches the topic with an emphasis on detailed therapy outcome data, firsthand clinical examples, new and compelling neuroscientific findings, and a framework that looks at the long clinical and theoretical history of trauma treatment. Although there is a definite slant toward a non-pharmacological approach to psychotherapy, the psychiatric background of the author informs his discussion frequently. The cases covered throughout the book illustrate severe forms of trauma; however, the forms of treatment are not exclusive to that population. More severe cases are shown here to exemplify that the included methods have wide-reaching clinical efficacy. The methods draw from a wide array of past and contemporary clinical work, and can be thought of as a look into the most current approaches to and ideas regarding trauma work. It also brings specific emphasis to the ways the body changes in reaction to early and prolonged traumatic experiences coming from a neuroscience perspective. It is because of this that the book is highly recommended for those professionals who commonly encounter patients with varying degrees of trauma in their practice.

bessel1Beginning with insight the author’s own initiation into trauma treatment in his clinical practice, The Body Keeps The Score starts by framing for us how the dialogue about PTSD has changed over the years. The structure of the book is broken down into five parts, each covering a different important dimension of trauma necessary to grasp for a more effective understanding of it.

Part One, The Rediscovery of Trauma, covers the aforementioned historical progression of trauma treatment examining how new research in neuroscience is again revolutionizing the clinical approach to this dimension of therapy.

The second part, This Is Your Brain On Trauma, looks at the specific brain regions associated with trauma. The book discusses these along with tangentially related neurological areas in order to give readers a practical understanding of the biological impact that trauma has over the lifespan and in specific circumstances.

Part Three, The Minds of Children, focuses primarily on trauma effects and dynamics among adolescents.

Part Four, The Imprint of Trauma, examines the act of recalling and remembering past and hidden traumatic memories.

Part Five, Paths to Recovery, is the largest section. This portion of the book deals with the many treatments and approaches used and studied by the author to treat trauma. EMDR, yoga, neuro-feedback, and aspects of language among other treatment forms are discussed.

The product of over thirty years of clinical experience and research, The Body Keeps The Score presents readers with up to date findings, a largely objective and effective psychiatric narrative, and a solid platform to further additional research and improve therapeutic practice. Drawing from relevant new findings in neuroscience for the biological and psychological impact of trauma, the book can bring readers up to speed on what is known about and helps to treat trauma. Relating outcome variance among differing schools of thought and bringing to light the efficacy of treatments like, for example, EMDR, that would otherwise not have widespread clinical attention is an important part of the book’s significance for the international psychotherapy community. In giving a biological basis for its claims and clinical suggestions, it additionally adds a degree of medical and psychiatric legitimacy to its findings and conclusions. The book presents its data alongside a thorough walk through of many different forms of trauma and how they can affect therapy dynamics. Contemporary and concise, the book is essential for understanding new trends in trauma treatment and its biological effects.

Michael Fiorini (2) 300dpiMichael Fiorini graduated from NYU’s psychology and sociology departments with honors last May, and is currently in the process of looking for and applying to doctoral programs in clinical psychology. As a student, he has written two theses and conducted a qualitative sociological survey analyzing comparative perceptions of discrimination. He has worked in numerous psychology laboratories, and studied drug efficacy for treatment of schizophrenics, early childhood education intervention, and the cognitive influences on morality. Michael is an avid writer as well, and regularly participates in writers workshops across New York City. In addition to writing for SPT, he volunteers at the Samaritans crisis hotline for suicide prevention.