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Becoming trauma sensitive: The professionals' path to making meditation safe and effective for trauma survivors

Event Details
Date: 4th May 2019
Venue: Sydney, NSW
CPD hrs: 13


Organiser: Mindfulness Training Institute - Australia New Zealand

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From elementary schools to psychotherapy offices, mindfulness meditation is an increasingly mainstream practice. At the same time, trauma remains a fact of life: the majority of us will experience a traumatic event in our lifetime, and some will develop posttraumatic stress.

Emerging research suggests that mindfulness interventions can help or hinder trauma survivors, raising a crucial question for mindfulness educators everywhere: How can you be prepared to minimise the potential dangers of mindfulness for survivors while leveraging its powerful benefits at the same time?

Through lecture, case study, and experiential practice, you will leave the workshop:

  • Understanding why meditation can create dysregulation for people who’ve experienced trauma and specific ways you can prevent this;
  • Prepared to recognise symptoms of traumatic stress while offering mindfulness interventions;
  • Informed about current empirical research regarding mindfulness and trauma, including evidence-based interventions you can apply immediately to your work;
  • Equipped with tools and modifications to help you work skilfully with dysregulated arousal, traumatic flashbacks, and trauma-related dissociation.

Whether you’re a beginning or veteran practitioner, anyone engaged in offering contemplative practices to others will benefit from this workshop, including therapists, coaches, and meditation, classroom, yoga, or religious teachers.

Learning objectives

  • Identify, in detail, the range of possible experiences that can arise from meditation practice, particularly in the context of mindfulness-based interventions
  • Understand why meditation practices may be experienced as challenging, distressing or impairing for people with a history of trauma
  • Practice experiential strategies to promote nervous system regulation, such as titration and pendulation
  • Integrate contemporary research regarding the self-regulatory benefits of meditation practice with the physiological mechanisms of post-traumatic stress
  • Learn how to recognise symptoms of traumatic stress, including dissociation, in meditation environments, respond to them utilising specific trauma-informed modifications, and develop curricula and interventions that actively prevent re-traumatization
  • Describe standards of trauma-informed practice with respect to the MBSR environments, including the impact of one’s physical setting
  • Integrate an analysis of oppression and social context into a trauma-informed framework to work competently across social difference.
  • Reflect on and articulate the relationship between individual and systemic forms of trauma, including responsibilities as a mindfulness teacher to educate oneself about social context and culture
  • Learn how to incorporate language the evokes a sense of choice and agency for mindfulness participants which supports trauma-informed practice
  • List and locate additional resources related to curriculum guidelines, teacher competencies, screening instruments, trauma, social context, and mental health first aid.

Learner prerequisites

Some knowledge or experience with meditation practice and mindfulness in particular is helpful

Presenter details

David Treleaven, PhD, is a writer, educator, and trauma professional whose work focuses on the intersection of trauma and mindfulness. He is author of the book Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing (W. W. Norton, 2018), which was acclaimed by Rick Hanson as “a rare combination of solid scholarship, clinically useful methods, and passionate advocacy for those who have suffered from trauma.” He’s offered workshops on trauma-sensitive mindfulness at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the Omega Institute in New York. Trained in counselling psychology at the University of British Columbia, he received his doctorate in psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies and is currently a visiting scholar at Brown University.

Location and date

Mary McKillop Place

4-5 May 2019





AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers