Scientific Publications

From Our Founder, Bessel van der Kolk MD

Research shows the stunning effects of MDMA-assisted therapy on Developmental Trauma.

Following the TRF/MAPS study of MDMA in the treatment of PTSD that was published two years ago in Nature Medicine, which the journal Science selected as one of the ten most significant scientific breakthroughs of the year 2021, the team analyzed further data from this study on the effects of MDMA on self-experience. Half the group received 36 hours of psychotherapy from a team of 2 thoroughly trained, experienced therapists, while the other half received the same treatment, but for them, this included three 8-hour sessions on the psychedelic MDMA.

The results were stunning. 

Those with significant problems with self-experience, such as lack of self-compassion, alexithymia, and difficulties with emotion regulation, did poorly on psychotherapy alone. However, MDMA had a significant positive effect on self-experience, with sharp increases in self-compassion, self-awareness, and measures of emotion regulation. This dramatically improved self-experience turned out to account for their being able to benefit from the overall treatment and the dramatic decrease in their PTSD symptoms. Contrary to expectations, the psychotherapy alone had only a small effect on negative self-judgment and self-awareness, while the addition of MDMA produced very significant improvements. At this point in time, MDMA still is not a legally available substance, but other mind-altering treatments, such as ketamine, are already available. It is critical that these substances only be used for therapeutic purposes with well-trained and experienced therapeutic guides. 

These issues will be an important part of the TRF 35th Annual Boston International Trauma Conference from May 1-4, 2024.s

Effects of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD on self-experience

Developmental Trauma

Clinical Significance of Dtd Diagnosis

Understanding Interpersonal Trauma in Children

Pierre Janet & Dissociation

Nimh Funded Emdr Study

A Randomized Clinical Trial of Emdr

Devastating Effects of Ignoring Child Maltreatment in Psychiatry

Disorder of Extreme Stress

A Randomized Controlled Study of Neurofeedback

Clinical Implications of Neuroscience Research in Ptsd

Yoga as Treatment for Ptsd

The Impact of Neurofeedback Training on Children with Developmental Trauma

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Rogel, A., Melville, A., Suvak, M., Hamlin, E., Hodgdon, H., & Van der Kolk, B. (Submitted). The impact of Neurofeedback Training on Children with developmental Trauma: A Randomized Control Study.

Nicholson, AA., Ros T., Jetly R., Lanius, RA., (2020) Regulating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms with Neurofeedback: Regaining control of the Mind. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, 6(S1), 3–15.

Mapping out the transformative effects of mind-altering substances- MDMA ketamine and psilocybin- for treating PTSD and other mental distress

Mithoefer MC, Mithoefer AT, Feduccia AA, Jerome L, Wagner M, Wymer J, Holland J, Hamilton S, Yazar-Klosinski B, Emerson A, Doblin R (2018) 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans, firefighters, and police officers: a randomised, doubleblind, dose-response, phase 2 clinical trial. Lancet Psychiatry 5: 486–497. 2.

Mithoefer MC, Wagner MT, Mithoefer AT, Jerome L, Martin SF, Yazar-Klosinski B, Michel Y, Brewerton TD, Doblin R (2013) Durability of improvement in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and absence of harmful effects or drug dependency after 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy: a prospective long-term follow-up study. J Psychopharmacol 27:28–39. 3)

Griffiths RR, Johnson MW, Richards WA, et al. (2011) Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: Immediate and persisting dose-related effects. Psychopharmacology 218: 649–665.
MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy May Have Lasting Benefits for PTSD, Results Published in Psychopharmacology

Trauma and the Restoration of the Self: Integrating fundamental discoveries in neuroscience with embodied self-awareness and mindfulness

Lanius R, Frewen PA, Tursich M, Jetly, R, McKinnon MC, (2015). Restoring large scale brain networks in PTSD and related disorders: a proposal for neuroscientifically-informed treatment interventions. Eur J Psychotraumatol Mar 31;6:27313. Doi: 10.3402/ejpt.v6.27313. eCollection 2015 (PMID: 25854674)

Terpou BA, Harricharan S, McKinnon MC, Frewen P, Jetly R, Lanius R A (2019). The effects of trauma on brain and body: A unifying role for the midbrain periaqueductal gray. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 2019 Sept 97(9), 1110–1140.… [Epub June 28, 2019]

Frewen P, Schroeter ML, Riva G, Cipresso P, Fairfeld B, Padulo C, Haddon Kemp A, Palaniyappan L, Owolabi, M, Kusi-Mensah K, Polyakova M, Fehertoi N, D’Andrea W, Lowe L, Northoff G, (2020), Neuroimaging the consciousness of self: Review, and conceptual-methodological framework. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 2020 May 112:164-212.…

Biological Underpinnings of Early-Life Stress: From Mechanisms to Novel Approaches for the Developmental Programming of Lifelong Health

Heim CM, Entringer S, Buss C (2019) Translating basic research knowledge on the biological embedding of early-life stress into novel approaches for the developmental programming of lifelong health. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2019 Jul;105:123-137. Doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.12.011. Epub 2018 Dec 12. Review.

Teicher MH, Samson JA (2013) Childhood maltreatment and psychopathology: a case for ecophenotypic variants as clinically and neurobiologically distinct subtypes. Am. J. Psychiatry 170, 1114–1133.

Teicher MH, Samson JA, Anderson CM, Ohashi K (2016) The effects of childhood maltreatment on brain structure, function and connectivity. Nat. Rev. Neurosci 17, 652–666.

Smoking Cigarettes, Eating Glass: One Psychologist’s Story

Sun J, Patel F, Rose-Jacobs R, Frank D, Black M, Chilton M (2017) Mothers’ Adverse Childhood Experiences and Their Young Children’s Development. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Am J Prev Med 2017;53(6):882–891.

Metzler M, Merrick MT, Klevens J, Ports KA, Ford DC (2017)Adverse childhood experiences and life opportunities: Shifting the narrative. Children and Youth Services Review 72 (2017) 141-149.

Sawyer A (2011) Let’s talk: A narrative of mental illness, recovery, and the psychotherapist’s personal treatment. J. Clin. Psychol., 67(8):776–788.

Plasticity of the Social Brain How to Train Mindfulness, Compassion and Perspectives on the Self

Singer T, Klimecki OM (2014) Empathy and compassion. Current Biology, 24(18), R875-R878.

Klimecki OM, Leiberg S, Lamm C, Singer T (2013) Functional neural plasticity and associated changes in positive affect after compassion training. Cerebral cortex, 23(7), 1552-1561.

Klimecki OM, Leiberg S, Ricard M, Singer T (2014) Differential pattern of functional brain plasticity after compassion and empathy training. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 9(6), 873-879.


The Emergence of a Polyvagal-Informed Therapy: Harnessing Neuroception of Safety in Clinical Treatment

Raspa M, Wylie A, Wheeler AC, et al. (2018) Sensory Difficulties in Children With an FMR1 Premutation. Front Genet. 2018;9:351. Published 2018 Aug 28. doi:10.3389/fgene.2018.00351.

Porges SW, Furman SA (2011) The Early Development of the Autonomic Nervous System Provides a Neural Platform for Social Behavior: A Polyvagal Perspective. Infant Child Dev. 2011;20(1):106‐118. Doi:10.1002/icd.688.

Grippo AJ, Lamb DG, Carter CS, Porges SW (2007) Social isolation disrupts autonomic regulation of the heart and influences negative affective behaviors. Biol Psychiatry. 2007;62(10):1162‐1170. Doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2007.04.011.

Treatment at the Interface of Addiction and Trauma

Shonkoff JP, Richter L, van der Gaag J, Bhutta ZA (2012) An Integrated Scientific Framework for Child Survival and Early Childhood Development. Journal of Pediatrics, American Pediatric Association. 2012 Feb;129(2):e460-72. Doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-0366.

Storrs C (2009) Is Life Expectancy Reduced by a Traumatic Childhood? Scientific American: October 7th, 2009.

Robins LN, Helzer JE, Hesselbrock M, Wish E (2010) Vietnam Veterans Three Years after Vietnam: How Our Study Changed Our View of Heroin. The American Journal on Addictions. 2010;19(3):203-211.

Disrupted Caregiving Relationships vs. Traumatic Stress: Treatment Implications of Their Differential Effects on the Development of Self, Mind and Brain

Mueller I, Tronick E (2019) Early life exposure to violence: developmental consequences on brain and behavior. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 13, 156.

Banella FE, Tronick E (2019) Mutual Regulation and Unique Forms of Implicit Relational Knowing. Early Interaction and Developmental Psychopathology Springer, Cham.(pp. 35-53).

Barbosa M, Beeghly M, Gonçalves J L, Moreira J, Tronick E, Fuertes M (2019) Predicting Patterns of Regulatory Behavior in the StillFace Paradigm at 3 Months. Infancy, 24(4), 501-52.

Aghagoli G, Conradt E, Padbury JF, Sheinkopf SJ, Tokadjian H, Dansereau LM, Tronick EZ, Marsit CJ, Lester BM (2020) Social Stress-Related Epigenetic Changes Associated With Increased Heart Rate Variability in Infants. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 13, 294.

Barbosa M, Beeghly M, Moreira J, Tronick E, Fuertes M (2018) Robust stability and physiological correlates of infants’ patterns of regulatory behavior in the still-face paradigm at 3 and 9 months. Developmental psychology, 54(11), 2032.

Tronick E, Mueller I, DiCorcia J, Hunter R, Snidman N (2020) A Caretaker Acute Stress Paradigm: Effects on behavior and physiology of caretaker and infant. Developmental Psychobiology. 2020;00:1-10.

Cook A, Spinazzola J, Ford J, Lanktree C, Blaustein M, Cloitre M, … & van der Kolk B (2017) Complex trauma in children and adolescents. Psychiatric annals, 35(5), 390-398.

van der Kolk B, Ford JD, Spinazzola J (2019) Comorbidity of developmental trauma disorder (DTD) and post-traumatic stress disorder: findings from the DTD field trial. European journal of psychotraumatology, 10(1), 1562841.

van der Kolk B (2016) The devastating effects of ignoring child maltreatment in psychiatry. 2016. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 57(3), 267-270.

van der Kolk BA, Hodgdon H, Gapen M, Musicaro R, Suvak MK, Hamlin E, Spinazzola J (2019) Correction: A Randomized Controlled Study of Neurofeedback for Chronic PTSD. Plos one, 14(4), e0215940.

Rhythms and Regulation: Innovative Approaches to Brain and Body During a Time of Immobilization

Lusebrink V, Mārtinsone K, Dzilna-Šilova I (2013) The Expressive Therapies Continuum (ETC): Interdisciplinary bases of the ETC. International Journal of Art Therapy, 18:2, 75-85.

Macy RJ, Jones E, Graham LM, Roach L (2018) Examining child maltreatment through a neurodevelopmental lens: clinical application of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics. Journal of Loss and Trauma 14: 240-255.

Macy RJ, Jones E, Graham LM, Roach L (2015) Yoga for Trauma and Related Mental Health Problems: A Meta-Review With Clinical and Service Recommendations. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 19(1), 35–57.

Eliminating Barriers to Access Healing from the Trauma of Identity-Based Social Inequalities Using a Peer Counseling (ReEvaluation Counseling) Model

Bergholz L, Stafford E, D’Andrea W (2016) Creating Trauma-Informed Sports Programming for Traumatized Youth: Core Principles for an Adjunctive Therapeutic Approach. Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 2016.

Bragin M (2019) Pour a Libation for US: Restoring the Sense of a Moral Universe to Children Affected by Violence. Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 2019.

Keller J, Mboya BO, Sinclair J, Githua OW, Mulinge M, Bergholz L, Paiva L, Golden NH, Kapphahn C (2015) A 6-Week School Curriculum Improves Boys’ Attitudes and Behaviors Related to Gender-Based Violence in Kenya. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2015.

Designing Trauma-Informed Interventions for Youth at the Grassroots Level: A Practical Toolkit for Bringing Research to Practice

Bergholz L, Stafford E, D’Andrea W (2016) Creating Trauma-Informed Sports Programming for Traumatized Youth: Core Principles for an Adjunctive Therapeutic Approach. Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 2016.

Bragin M (2019) Pour a Libation for US: Restoring the Sense of a Moral Universe to Children Affected by Violence. Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 2019.

Keller J, Mboya BO, Sinclair J, Githua OW, Mulinge M, Bergholz L, Paiva L, Golden NH, Kapphahn C (2015) A 6-Week School Curriculum Improves Boys’ Attitudes and Behaviors Related to Gender-Based Violence in Kenya. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2015.

Come to Your Senses: Establishing & Regaining Body Awareness

Rhodes A, Spinazzola J, van der Kolk BA (2016) Yoga for adult women with chronic PTSD: A long-term follow-up study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 22(3), 189–196.

Bai Y, Maruskin L, Chen S, Amie M, Stellar J, McNeil G, et al. (2017) Awe, the diminished self, and collective engagement: Universals and cultural variations in the small self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113(2), 185–209.

Dalebroux A, Goldstein TR, Winner E (2008) Short-term mood repair through art-making: Positive emotion is more effective than venting. Motivation and Emotion, 32, 288–295.

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