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Level I: Part One: Class 2 – Understanding Trauma and its Reverberating Effects: Trauma, Memory, and the Brain

March 27 Join Zoom 8:30am; Training 8:45am-4:15pm (ET) , 6 CEUs Presenter: Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C, DAPA Zoom, MD + Google Map

This class is only open to participants of the Level I program.

For information about the Level I Trauma Certificate Program, click here.

Workshop Description

In this six-hour workshop we will look at the ways in which our brains are adversely impacted by trauma and how the concept of neuroplasticity can reverse that impact. Participants will learn how to strengthen neuroplasticity in traumatized clients through lifestyle choices including: exercise, improved sleep hygiene, humor, connecting to others, and healthy risk-taking. We will then process the unique aspects of the developing adolescent brain, comparing it to the functionality of an adult brain, and exploring both the limitations and strengths of the adolescent mindset. Since many traumatized teens use digital apparatuses to dissociate, we will look at the adverse impact of digital technology and gaming on the adolescent brain.

Participants will get an introduction to the “triune brain” and will learn about the key functions of the brain stem, limbic system and pre-frontal cortex. We will explore the ways in which our brains are wired to respond to perceived threat, and why the chronicity of childhood abuse adversely impacts the limbic system and clients’ abilities to accurately process their experiences. We will distinguish between declarative and non-declarative memory and how trauma ‘s impact on the brain creates “speechless terror” for clients, making it difficult to articulate their experiences with words.

We will also address the fundamental developmental need to attach and explore the verbal and non-verbal ways that parents can foster secure attachment with an infant. We will look at the process of inter-regulation and auto-regulation and the child’s need for co-regulation in order to be soothed. Revisiting the negative effects of technology, we will process the toll it takes on secure attachment when parents are distracted by digital devices.

Learning Objectives

  1. Compare and contrast our historical understanding of the brain with our newest understanding, including the role that neuroplasticity can play.
  2. Identify and implement at least six strategies to help clients foster greater neuroplasticity.
  3. Describe the four major “desires” of the adolescent brain and how it differs from an adult brain.
  4. Describe the predominant reasons why teenagers should have limited exposure to digital technology, cellphones, and other devices.
  5. Illustrate Dan Siegal’s “hand model” of the brain
  6. Describe the negative impact that trauma and repeated fight/flight responses have on the different parts of the brain.
  7. Analyze the impact that chronic childhood trauma has on declarative and non-declarative memory.
  8. Explain where trauma is stored in the brain and why “talk therapy” alone does not allow clients to access and metabolize their experiences.
  9. Define inter-regulation and auto-regulation and why an infant cannot self-soothe if they are not first co-regulated.
  10. Identify at least five ways that primary caretakers can create secure attachment with an infant.


8:45-10:00 am

  • Historical and current conceptualizations of the brain
  • Defining neuroplasticity and why it’s relevant to our work with traumatized clients
  • 8 Ways to foster neuroplasticity through healthier lifestyle choices

10:00-10:07 am              Break

10:07-11:00 am

  • Exploring the adolescent brain: it’s strengths, limitations, and unique desires
  • Why the adolescent brain is different from an adult brain
  • The impact of digital technology on brain development
  • Understanding the triune brain: brain stem, limbic system and pre-frontal cortex
  • Dan Siegal’s hand model of the brain

11:00-11:08 am                 Break

11:08-12:00 pm

  • How our brains process danger and the price we pay
  • Trauma and the brain: when information can’t get processed by the pre-frontal cortex
  • Trauma’s impact on hippocampal volume

12:00-1:00 pm                   Lunch-on your own

1:00-2:00 pm

  • Understanding implicit and explicit memory
  • Trauma’s impact on memory: the phenomenon of “speechless terror”

2:00-2:07 pm                      Break


  • Understanding the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain
  • Global memory impairment and dissociation

3:00-3:07 pm                      Break

3:07-4:15 pm

  • Attachment: the primary task of childhood
  • Digital technology and the attachment crisis of 2021
  • Understanding co-regulation and auto-regulation
Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C DAPA