I spent 3 days in early December at a workshop on Complex Trauma. The presenters were John Briere Ph.D. and Bessel van der Kolk MD (link in post title). I'm working on a PowerPoint of the highlights and will post... eventually.
One of the most interesting points made by van der Kolk was that Complex Trauma responds best to present centered therapies that involve the body as opposed to cognitive restructuring or the retelling of the story.
van der Kolk suggests that yoga and theatre sports present better and safer therapeutic approaches to Complex Trauma (most notably traumas of abondonment and interpersonal traumatic experiences that occur prior to verbal ability) and suggests EMDR as a preferred treatment for PTSD or simple traumas.
I happen to agree whole-heartedly with Dr. van der Kolk's opinion but still wanted to know why these approaches work. I was pondering this today when I happened to come across this article, and this article. Both explore the Mirroring Neuron and cite research around the lack of this mirroring "ability" in autistic children.
So, I'm thinking that children that are abandoned emotionally and/or physically may not go through the mirroring stage and therefore not engage those particular neurons. As a child brain develops unused neurons get pruned but attachment and mirroring at a later age may allow for partial re-growth of those neurons.
If this is kind of how it works, then activities like yoga and theatre sports that involve the active mirroring of another person could work because the activities are stimulating the mirroring neurons. Just a thought...