Bodies, Brains, Trauma and the Arc of Healing

December 4th 2021

Join Matthew Sanford as he discusses body-centered treatment strategies with some of the most important voices in the field of trauma recovery

Date: December 4, 2021 @ 9:30 am – 5:00 pm ET  – Live | Virtual Event | 6 CE credits

This interactive, all-day, 4-part workshop features an array of leading, trauma-centered practitioners in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, resilience, storytelling, and yoga.

Join author and adaptive yoga pioneer Matthew Sanford as he leads separate conversations with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, MD (best-selling author), Dr. Ruth Lanius MD, PhD (leading neuroscience researcher and clinician), Dr. Daniel Libby (founder, Veterans Yoga Project), and renowned storyteller Kevin Kling (author and playwright). They will discuss body-centered rationale and treatment strategies for helping survivors heal and recover from traumatic experiences.

Each 90-minute segment includes a 60-minute conversation with the featured presenter, Q&A session, and an experiential, body-centered, 30-minute practice inspired by each particular conversation. 

*Recording will be made available in your TRF account for 60 days after the event.

CE offered through APA, ASWB, and Yoga Alliance

Session Details

Presenter 1: Bessel van der Kolk


9:30 – 11:00 am ET


In conversation with Matthew Sanford, Bessel van der Kolk traces some of the considerations that led him to advocate for multiple body-centered treatment approaches for the treatment of trauma, while giving special attention to his work with psychodrama therapy.  Bessel also reflects upon his vast experience in the field of trauma and shares insights about how to engage in novel paths of inquiry. There will also be a short experiential mind-body practice inspired by Bessel’s insights and reflections.

Trauma affects the entire human organism—body, mind, and brain. In PTSD the body continues to defend against a threat that belongs to the past.

-Bessel van der Kolk

I’ve never known someone to become more at home in his or her own body, in all of its flaws and its grace, without becoming more compassionate to all of life.

-Matthew Sanford

Presenter 2: Ruth Lanius


11:15 am – 12:45 pm ET


In conversation with Matthew Sanford, Ruth Lanius discusses her cutting-edge research on the brain’s default mode network (brain patterns associated with awake rest, introspection, and reflection), trauma’s effects on coordinated movement and balance, and the effects on the sense of self.  Ruth also discusses possible clinical applications, while also considering the prospects of inward focused mind-body practices as a means to transform existing brain patterns. There will be a short experiential mind-body practice inspired by Ruth’s insights.

Presenter 3: Daniel Libby


1:15 – 2:45 pm ET


In conversation with Matthew Sanford, Daniel Libby discusses the foundational tenets of his Mindful Resilience for Trauma Recovery and its applications for our veterans.  He also discusses difficulties associated with creating an integrative, experiential approach, one that is grounded in research, but also presented in a classroom setting of mind-body exercise.  Matthew Sanford and Daniel Libby also discuss a sensation-based approach to the process of embodiment and its implications for facilitation of healing.  An experiential mind-body practice follows their conversation.

Mind-body integration is more than a personal health strategy. It is a movement of consciousness that can change the world.

-Matthew Sanford

Nobody looks better than when they are helping someone else.

-Kevin Kling

Presenter 4: Kevin Kling


3:00 – 4:30 pm ET


In three-way conversation, Matthew Sanford and Daniel Libby are joined by world-renowned story-teller Kevin Kling to discuss the integral role that story and healing narratives play in healing from trauma, both in their own processes and in the processes of others.  Participants gain insights into the role that stories of all kinds play in trauma recovery, how to help facilitate the realization of those stories, and the role the body can play in such facilitation. They are also treated to a couple of Kevin’s stories and engage in body-centered story-generating mind-body exercises.

Meet the speakers

Matthew Sanford

Matthew Sanford is an expert in mind-body transformation.  As a survivor of traumatic injury and living with a spinal cord injury for 42 years of his life, Matthew has become an internationally recognized yoga teacher who specializes in teaching people with all levels of ability. 

He is the author of the award-winning Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence and is the Founder of the non-profit Mind Body Solutions, an organization dedicated to helping people transform trauma, loss, and disability into hope and potential.  For more information, visit

Bessel van der Kolk

Bessel van der Kolk, MD spends his career studying how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences, and has translated emerging findings from neuroscience and attachment research to develop and study a range of treatments for traumatic stress in children and adults.

Much of his research has focused on how trauma has a different impact at different stages of development, and that disruptions in care-giving systems have additional deleterious effects that need to be addressed for effective intervention. He has focused on studying treatments that stabilize physiology, increase executive functioning and help traumatized individuals to feel fully alert to the present. He is author of the New York Times best seller The Body Keeps the Score, which has been translated into 35 languages, and of well over 150 peer reviewed scientific articles.

Ruth Lanius

Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry is the Director of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Research Unit at the University of Western Ontario. She established the Traumatic Stress Service and the Traumatic Stress Service Workplace Program, services that specialize in the treatment and research of PTSD and related comorbid disorders. She currently holds the Harris-Woodman Chair in Mind-Body Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario. Her research interests focus on studying the neurobiology of PTSD and treatment outcome research examining various pharmacological and psychotherapeutic methods. She has authored more than 100 published papers and chapters in the field of traumatic stress and is currently funded by several federal funding agencies. She regularly lectures on the topic of PTSD nationally and internationally. She has recently published a book ‘The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease’ with Eric Vermetten and Clare Pain.-

Daniel Libby

Daniel J. Libby, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and yoga teacher specializing in the mindful integration of evidence-based psychotherapies and complementary and alternative medicine practices for the treatment of PTSD and other psychological and emotional challenges. Dan has conducted research investigating the physiological correlates of mindfulness meditation as well as the first epidemiological investigation of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in VA PTSD treatment programs. He is former Director of Clinical Services for the Starlight Military Rehabilitation Program and has taught mindfulness and yoga to hundreds of veterans and active-duty service members. Daniel is currently Executive Director of Veterans Yoga Project, the non-profit organization dedicated to supporting recovery and resilience among our veterans, families, and communities.

Kevin Kling

Kevin Kling is a playwright, storyteller, actor and public speaker based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has performed his plays in Sweden, Australia, Scotland and in the Czech Republic. His plays have been produced at The Goodman Theater, The Jungle Theater, the Denver Center Theater, Seattle Rep, the Cincinnati Playhouse, Interact, the Guthrie and regional theaters throughout the country. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The McKnight Foundation, The Minnesota State Arts Board, The Bush Foundation, The Jerome Foundation. He is a McDowell Fellow and has received the Whiting Award, the A.P. Anderson Award, the VSA Jeahny, and the Eric Peterson Award.