SMART (Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment): A Treatment Method for Children and Adolescents with Complex Trauma

Presenters: Elizabeth Warner, Psy.D. and Heather Finn, LICSW

Dates: November 14-15, 2013

Times: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. each day

Location: Holiday Inn, Brookline, MA

Costs: All registrants are required to purchase the SMART manual at a special registrant rate of $35 (reduced from $50). Manuals will be distributed on day one of the workshop.

Full Rate: $370 + $35 manual fee = $405; Group/Student Rate: $333 + $35 manual fee = $368.


SMART (Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment) (Warner, Cook, Westcott & Koomar, 2011) is an innovative mental heath therapy for complexly traumatized children and adolescents for whom regulation of emotional, behavioral and interpersonal life is a primary problem. In addition, traumatic memory in the form of sensory reminders, intrusions, and re-enactments can hijack ordinary daily life. The goal of this therapy is to expand the repertoire of regulating experiences for children and their caregivers and to facilitate integrated trauma processing with the aim of nurturing healing and growth. Therapists will learn a new array of sensory motor strategies utilizing a larger space, big pillows, weighted blankets, balance beams, fitness balls and other basic equipment to facilitate improved regulation. Therapist skills which enhance attunement, co-and self regulation, and mindfully attend to present experience support somatic regulation. With improved regulation, our child and adolescent clients can spontaneously process traumatic experience in a more integrated fashion through their sensory motor play and experimentation.

This new therapy is designed to be helpful to children and caregivers alike in improving self-regulation and the rhythms of their relationship. Through playful approaches, caregivers can enhance attunement and attachment with their child in the room. Either through participation in the child's therapy, or through private parent guidance work, caregivers can learn these strategies for implementation at home.

The Trauma Center mental health team who developed the therapy at The Trauma Center at JRI in Brookline, Massachusetts, drew on expertise from the worlds of trauma-focused psychotherapy, Sensory Integration Occupational Therapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, family therapy, and developmental psychology including attachment theory. SMART is now in practice at clinics, day schools, and residential treatment centers for children ages 2 to 20 years old. In addition, private practitioners have adapted SMART methods for use in private offices.

The Training Institute is offering a SMART Two Day Intensive Training for mental health practitioners interested in learning this approach to a trauma therapy for children and adolescents and their caregivers. This training is relevant to therapists practicing in clinics and treatment centers, as well as private practitioners who wish to expand their skill base for their clients, ages 2 to 20 years old, with complex trauma. Participants will learn sensory motor tools and therapist skills as well as how to look for and facilitate the kind of trauma processing that occurs in this new context. For those interested in practicing the method to a level of competency, the training is followed by 9-12 months of group consultation. Videotape of the therapist’s therapeutic work is utilized as the basis for learning in the post-training ongoing consultation groups. Full use of SMART requires adequate space and some basic equipment.


Elizabeth Warner, Psy.D., SMART Project Director, has had a psychotherapy practice with adults, adolescents and children in Brookline for the past 25 years, and has been affiliated with the Trauma Center since 2006 as a senior supervisor, trainer, therapist, and researcher. Her specialization is in the area of child and adolescent development, family therapy, and the impact on adults of parenting. Special interests include adoption and adoptive families, the special nature and implications of that attachment, and the development of effective treatments for complex trauma in children and adolescents. She spent 15 years working with severely disordered children including traumatized children and their parents, using innovative methodologies and the use of videotape at the Language & Cognitive Development Center. In addition, she has treated, supervised and consulted in psychiatric inpatient and outpatient settings at Boston University Medical Center, schools, mental health clinics and residential treatment, providing therapy, teaching and consultation.

Heather Finn, LICSW is the Assistant Clinical Director, clinician, supervisor and trainer at the Trauma Center. Heather specializes in the treatment of children, adolescents, adults and families whose lives have been impacted by complex trauma, and has particular interest in the areas of adoption/foster care, attachment and resiliency. She is trained in EMDR (level 2), Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (level 1), Attachment, Regulation and Competency (ARC), Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Therapy (SMART) and Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT-A) approaches to treatment. Heather is also a trainer and consultant for the SMART and ARC programs at the center. Prior to her work at the Trauma Center Heather has clinical experience working with children and families in shelter, residential treatment and outpatient mental health treatment settings. She graduated from Smith College School for Social Work in 2001.

Note: All registrants are required to purchase the SMART manual at a special registrant rate of $35 (reduced from $50). Manuals will be distributed on day one of the workshop. A group is 3+ individuals registering at the same time from the same agency. Students need to be enrolled in a degree-seeking program and have proof of that enrollment.

To enrol in this workshop, please be sure to submit both the Registration form as well as payment. If you prefer to enrol online using PayPal©, please use one of the following direct links.

Full Rate: $370 + $35 manual fee = $405:

Group/Student Rate: $333 + $35 manual fee = $368: