Trauma and the Brain Workshop Agenda

person in woods

Participate in an educational 2.5 hour workshop focused on our connection with nature. Learn how our brain has adapted to manage trauma and ways we have attempted to cope. Workshop will include up-to-date research on nature and the brain, as well as hands on educational opportunities.”

Trauma and the Brain Workshop (2.5 hours)

My Introduction (10 minutes)
-introduce self and style
-provide brief agenda

Create Space for Being More Present (10 minutes)
-highlight not doing introductions yet, create space to be more present
-talk about how we tend to forget to make sure our bodies are present
-“How do you get more present and make sure both your mind and body is here?”
–e.g. stretching, meditating, movement, breathing
-provide a few minutes for people to use their preferred way to be more present

Introductions (15 minutes)
-go around circle for introductions 
–name, what thing in nature are you most like when you’re feeling safe/scared?
-reflect on relationships highlighted
–why this workshop? what are everyone’s hopes? 
-reflect on answers, explore how this can be further incorporated into workshop

Trauma and the Brain Psycho-Education (25 minutes)
-psycho-education on hand model of the brain and how we experience emotions
-discuss neuro-psychological research on the 4 emotional physical states
-how trauma impacts the brain; deer in the woods metaphor
-broken mirror metaphor; memories stored as non-linear sensory information
-how we protect ourselves-being hyper-vigilant
-importance of feeling safe and grounded

Using Animals to Better Understand Trauma (10 minutes)
-have each participant think about an animal they know really well
-write down observations:
–what is animals fight/flight response?
–does it change in different situations?
–what environment factors play into the response?
–what hunts it? What does it hunt? And how?
–how could their fight/flight response change?
–when does it feel safe? How do you know when it’s relaxed?

Small Group/Large Group Discussion (20 minutes)
-each person shares their work
-what insights did this activity provide
-small groups briefly share with large group then back to small groups
-what self-reflection can each person recognize about their own behaviors? 

Partner Activity/Incorporating Movement (10 minutes)
-one person acts out different non-verbal cues and have partner reflect

Trans-Generational Trauma/Nature Based Perspective (20 minutes)
-first major trauma for humans is civilization and disconnection with nature
-nature based metaphors; normalize and not invalidate trauma
–tree and scar as it relates to trauma and healing
destructive weather/clear cutting- land trauma, focus on resources and re-growth

Nature Based Metaphors Individual Activity (15 minutes)
-think of nature based metaphor that could describe personal trauma
-share with partner
-share reflections with larger group

Relaxation Activity (10 minutes)
-lead a group agreed upon relaxation activity to decompress
–(e.g. progressive muscle relaxation, fun activity, guided meditation)

Saying Goodbye (5 minutes)
-overall reflections/questions
-what have you gained? what do you want to let go of?
-highlight importance of rituals: SHAKE IT OFF!