Trauma happens when an experience produces psychological injury or pain. Complex trauma is a type of trauma that happens cumulatively over time, within specific relationships or contexts. That context may be war, chronic illness, or abuse, either physical or sexual. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is the result of a single traumatic event, for example a terrorist attack, a tornado, hurricane or other natural disaster. On the other hand, Developmental Trauma is a form of complex trauma that specifically affects young children, even unborn children, although the symptoms often do not manifest until many years later. This type of trauma can include abuse and neglect at the hands of a trusted caregiver, neglect in a foreign orphanage, in utero exposure, or even premature birth or illness where medical healing touch can not be distinguished from abuse by a baby or toddler.
Babies learn emotional regulation from attuning to the face of their Mother or primary caregiver. When this relationship is disrupted, a child may develop trauma. A core belief of those suffering from developmental trauma is that the world is an unsafe place. Symptoms of children with developmental trauma include affect and psychological dysregulation, and attentional and behavioral dysregulation. These dysregulations can present as emotional rages, sensory processing disorders, hypervigilance, self harming behaviors, risk taking behaviors, lack of empathy, hypersexuality, acting as the parent, lack of trust, and aggression.
June 22nd - June 24th, I had the opportunity to attend the 5th annual Developmental Trauma Conference at Change Academy at Lake of the Ozarks, CALO. Dr. Joseph Spinazzola, of the Justice Resource Institute, educated us on the history of developmental trauma as well as how to attune effectively. Steve Sawyer, Clinical Director and Cofounder of New Visions Wilderness Therapy, taught us techniques to regulate a dysregulated nervous system, including, breathing techniques, neurobiofeedback, brainspotting, and heart math.
Calo is a residential treatment center which is a relationship based treatment model designed to heal developmental trauma. Calo's relationship based model is known as CASA, which stands for Commitment, Acceptance, Security, and Attunement. These four pillars leads to the ultimate goal of Joy, which is the experience through co-regulation. CALO offers therapy, family therapy, adventure based therapy, neurobiofeedback, and is well known for its canine therapy program. CALO uses Golden Retrievers to help students learn to empathize, trust and receive unconditional love. Students work with their Goldens on a daily basis. They learn and practice safe and healthy attachment with their canine with the ultimate goal of transferring that attachment to their families.
Thank you CALO for a wonderful conference and facility tour!