TWO IMPORTANT INITIATIVES:
Establishment of an Endowed Research Directorship
Child Neurofeedback Study
The Trauma Center at JRI has undertaken an important campaign to establish the first endowed Research Directorship of its kind in the country--the van der Kolk Chair. In honor of our Founder, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and his unique vision and importance in the field of traumatic stress, we have worked tirelessly over the past 8 years to build the Catherine Jacobus Endowment Fund held by our nonprofit organization, Justice Resource Institute. This fund was established to enable the continuation into perpetuity of an independent voice of scientific integrity in the field of traumatic stress.
Through establishment of The van der Kolk Chaired Research Directorship at Justice Resource Institute, we will ensure that The Trauma Center is able to continue to champion this vital work for generations to come. Echoing the impact of Dr. van der Kolk on the traumatic stress field over the past four decades, establishment of this independent endowed Research Directorship position will be a galvanizing, watershed event, the reverberations of which will be felt in our field for decades to come.
A specific interest we have at The Trauma Center is in Neurofeedback. We recently completed the first randomized controlled trial of clinical neurofeedback for adult trauma survivors, which revealed that 20 sessions of neurofeedback over 10 weeks not only dramatically reduces PTSD at levels equal or greater to those observed in top-tier research on trauma-focused therapies for adult PTSD, but also became the first PTSD treatment outcome study to demonstrate substantial improvements in executive functioning (e.g. impulse control, attention and concentration, decision-making and problem-solving, cognitive flexibility, etc.) as a result of treatment. The findings of this important study have major implications for intervention with survivors of chronic and severe trauma, many of whose lives have been significantly limited by deficits in these vitally important higher-order cognitive capacities the absence of which derails learning and functioning in school, vocation, relationships and society.
Recognizing the critical implications of these findings for early intervention with traumatized children, we realized we could not hesitate to embark on a randomized controlled study of neurofeedback for children despite the persistent refusal of federal research institutions to fund clinical research on neurofeedback. A generous donation from a private donor, in combination with dedication of our limited research reserves amassed the $200,000 necessary to cover costs associated with 50% of this study, which has now been actively underway since summer 2014. In this study we will recruit 40 children with histories of severe abuse or neglect and assign them to either brain biofeedback (clinical neurofeedback) or traditional biofeedback (heart rate variability retraining). After doing mini-brain mapping, we provide children assigned to the neurofeedback condition with 24 sessions of neurofeedback, administered by our well-trained staff. To date we have successful enrolled 15 children into this study, many of whom have been adopted by loving parents from the Boston area and beyond.