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Trauma, Flexibility, and the Resilience Paradox: The Complex and Individualized Ways That Humans Cope and Thrive

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How do humans cope with potentially traumatic life events? This keynote will present evidence to support three basic conclusions regarding this question: First, resilience is common. Decades of research has shown that resilience after potential trauma, defined as a stable trajectory of healthy functioning, is typically the majority outcome. Second, resilience is not about having the "key" traits. Data on the many correlates of resilient outcomes show that these factors have paradoxically small effects, i.e., individual correlates say little about who will actually be resilient and who will not. Among the reasons for this paradox are that potentially traumatic events are highly variable and virtually all traits and behaviours have both costs and benefits. Thus, what works in one situation may not work as well, or may even be harmful, in another. Third, to resolve the paradox, I propose that resilience requires engaging with a potential trauma and each time working out the best coping strategy for that moment. This process is known as flexible self-regulation, or regulatory flexibility, and is based on copious experimental and survey stress research. This talk will conclude with a review of recent studies and new directions on regulatory flexibility.

George Bonanno, PhD
Professor of Counseling and Clinical Psychology
Columbia University  

Bonanno.pngGeorge Bonanno is an internationally renown expert on trauma and resilience. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is currently a Professor of Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has conducted ground-breaking research on trauma, loss and other kinds of adversity for over three decades. He was listed by the Web of Science among the top 1% most cited scientists in the world and has been honored by the Association for Psychological Science “for a lifetime of intellectual achievements in applied psychological research and their impact on a critical problem in society at large” and by the and by the International Positive Psychology Association for “distinguished lifetime contributions to positive psychology.” His books include The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss and, most recently, The End of Trauma: How the New Science of Resilience is Changing How We Think About PTSD.

From Chicago to Honduras to Iraq to South Africa: 25 Years on the Ground Building a Global Program to Reduce Community Violence

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Brent Decker is the Chief Program Officer for Cure Violence Global, an international nonprofit organization that works to prevent violence in communities around the world. The Cure Violence approach is based on the idea that violence is contagious, and that it can be prevented by interrupting the cycle of violence. The organization's staff, known as violence interrupters, are trained to identify and intervene with people who are at risk of being involved in violence. They do this by building relationships with people in their communities, mediating conflicts, and providing support and resources. Cure Violence Global is currently operating in 25 cities and 10 countries. Brent Decker has worked since the program's inception in Chicago to design, implement, and evaluate community-driven, evidence-based programs. In this unique keynote, Brent Decker will discuss his experience developing, implementing, and evaluating programs with communities around the world that experience endemic violence due to systemic causes. He will discuss the need to understand and adapt to the cultural context along with the practicalities of implementation and building in scientific rigor.

R. Brent Decker, MPH, MSW
Chief Program Officer
Cure Violence Global

Decker.pngBrent Decker serves as Chief Program Officer for CVG, where he is responsible for overseeing all local, national, and international program implementation, oversight and curation of training for the entire Cure Violence ecosystem, and collaboratively setting and steering the strategic direction of the organization. Before joining Cure Violence, Mr. Decker worked on a number of social justice and community health projects in Latin America. Mr. Decker earned a masters degree in public health from Tulane University. 

Engaging Relationships to Treat Early Trauma: The Challenge and Promise of Scaling with Fidelity

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This talk will describe the strategies used to scale Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), an evidence-based trauma-informed treatment for children aged birth-five exposed to trauma and their caregivers. The presentation will include CPP key tenets, fidelity strands, and therapeutic modalities as the basis for training and dissemination across different geographic regions.  The opportunities and challenges of CPP implementation and scaling that are responsive to cultural context, provider professional training, and families' environmental circumstances will be discussed. 

Alicia F. Lieberman, PhD
Irving B. Harris Endowed Chair in Infant Mental Health
Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Director, Child Trauma Research Program
University of California San Francisco

ALieberman_Headshot.jpgAlicia F. Lieberman, Ph.D. is Irving B. Harris Endowed Chair in Infant Mental Health, Professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and director of the UCSF Child Trauma Research Program. She directs the Early Trauma Treatment Network, a center of SAMHSA National Child Traumatic Stress Network funded since 2001 with the mission to increase access and raise the standard of care for trauma-exposed young children and their families across the United States. She is the senior developer of Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), an evidence-based treatment for traumatized children aged birth-five with an international reach in Israel, Australia, Hong Kong and Europe and nationally disseminated in 40 states through 2000+ rostered clinicians and 100+ CPP trainers. Her research involves treatment outcome studies in pregnancy and with traumatized young children from low-income and under-represented minority groups. She is the author of The Emotional Life of the Toddler, described as “groundbreaking” and now in its second edition to mark its 25th year in continuous print. She is also the author of numerous professional books and articles on pregnancy and early childhood mental health. Her work has been translated to several languages, including Arabic and Hebrew, and is used to increase understanding and foster dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians working with bereaved and traumatized young children and their families.

Involuntary Memories: Prevalence, Mechanisms, and Transdiagnostic Relevance to Treatment

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Stressful events are often vividly remembered. Such memories can become intrusive and debilitating as in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While effective treatments for PTSD are available, there is much room for improvement. Knowledge about mechanisms of therapeutic change is valuable to optimize treatment effects. Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an effective treatment for PTSD. A long-standing controversy has been whether (and how) eye movements in EMDR possess added benefit to the imaginal exposure component. A series of studies relevant to this controversy has been conducted to experimentally unravel how EMDR therapy works. This keynote will discuss important new insights and clinical implications about the way traumatic memories can drive anxiety and other trauma-related symptoms, as well as how EMDR therapy can mitigate traumatic memories.

Englehard.pngIris Engelhard, PhD
Professor of Clinical Psychology
Utrecht University