Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D. is a renowned trauma expert, who has revolutionized the way we understand the impact of trauma on childhood brain development and emotion regulation. Most people are traumatized in the context of intimate relationships, and therefore learning how to trust, reconnect, and feel empowered in relationships is essential for healing from trauma.
His work integrates mind, brain, body, and social connections to understand and treat trauma. He actively treats survivors of war, rape, child abuse and neglect, and is fascinated by the life force that allows people to surmount the most challenging assaults and injuries,
Both a clinician and a researcher, he was part of the team that did the first neuroimaging study of how PTSD changes the brain. The results of that study made it inevitable to look for new ways of approaching the treatment of traumatic stress.
He also received the first grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the capacity of yoga to deal with PTSD (showing that yoga can be more effective than medications, and also changes the brain to better functioning), confirming the idea that learning to regulate your own physiology, being able to tolerate your physical sensations, and learning to regulate your breathing can be powerful steps towards health and self-leadership.
NIMH also funded his first scientific study of EMDR that showed that EMDR can be extremely helpful. This opens up interesting questions about why this is so, and leads to the healing effects of sleep and dreams.
Van der Kolk also received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the effects of theater programs to reduce violence in inner city schools.
Another major interest is in neurofeedback, the capacity of the brain to learn to regulate itself which ushers in the whole new area of exploration: applied neuroscience.
Dr. van der Kolk is author of several books and one hundred and fifty scientific articles. He regularly teaches around the world Europe, Japan, Brazil, Australia, China, Argentina, South Africa etc.