Online training

Mental Health and the Body: Treating Trauma Online Training


Trauma is a supremely physical phenomenon, manifesting not just in our emotions and mental states, but also in our bodies. Trauma results in significant emotional distress and fear-based dysregulation, but also in long-term bodily inflammation and sleep disturbances, which in turn inhibits the processing of traumatic memory. And so it makes sense that our bodies also need to be involved in recovering from trauma: this course shows you how.

“What an amazing and thorough course this is! The amount of research and detail that has gone into it is phenomenal, but I am not surprised because this is what Carolyn does. Thank you!”

“Another beautifully articulated course delivered with so much insight and truly inspiring knowledge. It has certainly propelled me to go out and learn more. It was full of hope that there is more within the realms of control than what we may have historically anticipated.

This will have a big impact on my client work and I thank you for creating this course as it will help me to be a better practitioner. I loved it and I would encourage anybody who is a therapist to undertake this as its liquid gold information!!”

“All aspects of the training were fascinating, relevant and very accessible to understand. I absolutely love how Carolyn manages to distil complex information into concepts that can be understood.”

“Yet another amazing training course by Carolyn! Fascinating and mind-blowing to learn about factors we would usually dismiss, and described in an easy-to-understand manner, neuroscience made easy. So much information I intend to share with clients who have complex trauma and severe depression and anyone else actually! It even made me reflect on, and adjust, my own sleep pattern. Massive thanks.”

“I really enjoyed this course. It will completely alter the way I work with trauma in terms of psychoeducation. I have learnt a lot about polyvagal theory which has been really useful for clients but I did not realize the importance of sleep and diet in treating trauma.”

“All aspects of the training were fascinating, relevant and very accessible to understand. Sections were the right length to be able to go into detail on subjects but also make the information digestible. Absolutely love how Carolyn manages to distill complex information into concepts that can be understood.”

“Very insightful, as all Carolyn’s training are. She always leaves me eager to know more, wanting to go and look for more information and to educate myself in order to support my clients as best as I can. Thank you Carolyn for all your knowledge and for sharing it.”

“I thought this was brilliant! Really enjoyed this and this will help me in my work with my clients. Particularly found helpful the module on inflammation and link to depression, anxiety and other conditions.”

“Fabulous course, masses of information presented in an accessible way.”

“Accessible and easy to understand training backed up by a significant amount of research and personal experience.  “

“I found this training very helpful. It was clearly explained and well-referenced. Really interesting and highlighted new areas of focus to consider for me as a counsellor.”

  • Available instantly upon purchase
  • No set schedule – work at your own pace
  • 6 hours of CPD with certificate upon completion
  • Downloadable resources and additional reading for a comprehensive learning experience including:
    • Course Notebook (with space for notes, reflection questions, session summaries, references and links)
    • PowerPoint handouts (two versions, one with space for notes, one for easy printing)
    • Set of psychoeducational posters (full-colour and low-ink versions)
    • MP3 audio files
  • Videos available to stream or also downloadable for offline viewing
  • Lifetime access
  • Start/stop and return as often as you like
  • Easy to use: only needs a web browser and PDF reader
  • Individual licence only: for multiple users and information about discounts for organisations, please click here.

On top of – or alongside – talking therapies, how else can we tackle the impacts of trauma? What can we do either alongside therapy, or whilst waiting for it, to maximise our brain and body’s ability to heal?

We know that trauma profoundly affects our body. In ‘Trauma and the Body: Somatisation and Dissociation’ I looked at how trauma greatly increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and some autoimmune disorders. We looked at body memories and how our experience of pain is influenced by our psychological state.

But what about the flip side of all of that? How does the state of our body influence our mind and emotions? That’s what I look at in this course. I delve into some cutting-edge research and thinking about how our mental health – things like our mood, our emotions, even our compulsions – are at least in part driven by our physiology. We look at:

  • How the bacteria in our gut may influence our mental state
  • How depression and anxiety may be generated by inflammation and our immune system
  • How our hormones impact how we feel and act
  • How what time we get up on a morning can set the course of our emotions throughout the day
  • How sleep – a certain amount of it, and a certain type of it – is absolutely essential for recovery from trauma
  • How and why trauma leads to parasomnias such as nightmares and sleepwalking
  • How junk food can increase the likelihood of flashbacks and prevent the resolution of traumatic memories
  • And lots more!

We all know instinctively that our bodies influence our brains, and our brains influence our bodies, but we don’t always know why. That’s what is unpacked in this course, to see if, in our fight against trauma, there are other tools and strategies that we can use, on top of our standard talking therapies approaches.

This course is rooted in a combination of the latest research alongside my own journey: from years battling with chronic fatigue syndrome and dissociative identity disorder to vastly improved health, both physically and mentally. At the end of this course, my goal is that we’ll all have a much clearer idea of what we can do to help both ourselves and our clients be in the best shape possible, both mentally and physically, so that recovery from trauma isn’t just a pipe-dream, but a solid plan.



Session 1: Introduction

  • Introducing the complexity of trauma recovery
  • Exploring key factors in recovery in stabilising traumatised children, and relating this to recovery for adults
  • Explaining why fundamental physiological processes such as sleep, inflammation and gut health are so important to trauma recovery
  • Linking specific sleep states with trauma processing
  • Introducing the concept of working holistically with ‘a person who has been traumatised’ rather than ‘working with trauma’
  • Challenging Freudian concepts of abreaction and catharsis as vehicles in trauma recovery
  • Exploring the possible direction of causation between trauma and depression, and the possibility of depression being an adaptation to trauma rather than merely a psychological consequence of it
  • Introducing a phase-based treatment approach to trauma
  • Introducing the value of stage one stabilisation and the value of psychoeducation in equipping and re-empowering survivors
  • Exploring the role of therapists in trauma therapy as coming alongside to re-empower, not delivering a treatment to a passive patient
  • Introducing the idea of our brains’ and bodies’ self-sufficiency for healing, and identifying blockages within environmental and modern lifestyles

Session 2: Roadblocks to recovery

  • Examining five key areas of struggle for trauma survivors: powerlessness, persistent low mood, affect regulation, sleep disturbances, and an inability to process our experiences
  • Exploring the idea that all five of these areas have physiological as well as psychological components
  • Examining the feedback loop between these five areas, resulting in a vicious cycle
  • Exploring disrupted sleep as a shared characteristic of a range of psychiatric difficulties and conditions
  • Exploring the idea that sleep is a fundamental and essential component of trauma processing and recovery
  • Understanding the key elements of sleep in terms of Process C (circadian rhythm) and Process S (sleep pressure)
  • Exploring the neurobiological components of sleep, including the role of adenosine, the function of neurotransmitters in the ‘sleep switch’, and how to close the ‘sleep gate’

Session 3: Got rhythm?

  • Exploring the impact of trauma on circadian rhythms
  • Exploring how circadian rhythms and cycles of light and dark act either as powerful antidepressants or powerful disrupters of mood including depression
  • Exploring the evolutionary development and physiology of circadian rhythms and their impact on digestion, gut bacteria, gene expression, body temperature, hormone release, mood, blood sugar sensitivity and energy
  • Understanding two key characteristics of circadian rhythms in terms of fixedness and contrast, and how our modern lifestyles have blunted both aspects in our lives
  • Exploring the two main consequences of a disrupted circadian rhythm – depression and insomnia – and how these interact with and exacerbate trauma symptoms
  • Exploring how we can maximise the interaction between Process S and Process C to improve sleep quality and duration
  • Exploring how our internal body clocks are reset by entrainment of the suprachiasmatic nucleus via light, and how we disrupt this with artificial light sources
  • Exploring the impact of ‘social jetlag’ on health outcomes including obesity, heart disease and cancer.

Session 4: Light the way

  • Exploring the three characteristics of people with depression: increased circadian variability, low circadian amplitude, and abnormal circadian timing.
  • Understanding how mood tracks naturally to a circadian rhythm but can be significantly disrupted by poor timing of sleep
  • Exploring the anti-depressive function of light, and the adaptive and maladaptive use of blue light
  • Understanding the role of chronotherapeutics in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder and other mood disorders
  • Exploring the association between disrupted rhythms and obesity and weight gain and in particular the deleterious impacts of ‘ALAN’
  • Exploring our bodies’ evolutionary expectations of light and dark, and current day country-wide associations between levels of light pollution and levels of obesity
  • Exploring three key interventions for tackling circadian rhythm disruption

Session 5: To sleep … perchance to dream?

  • Exploring the different stages of sleep
  • Exploring the role of NREM sleep in memory consolidation via K-complexes and sleep spindles
  • Exploring the role of slow wave sleep in physical refresh and repair, the architecture of sleep stages during the night, and how short sleeping leads to a deficit of REM sleep
  • Exploring the neuroscience of REM sleep and its role in memory and emotional processing
  • Exploring the ‘overnight therapy theory of REM sleep’ and indications from research that the ‘density’ of REM sleep can predict success in therapy
  • Explore the role of REM sleep in resetting our emotional baseline and in particular our unconscious threat bias
  • Exploring the potential negative impact of medication on REM sleep

Session 6: Para-what?!

  • Exploring the role of the locus coeruleus in inhibiting noradrenaline during dream sleep and its failure to do so in people diagnosed with PTSD
  • Exploring the phenomenological experience of nightmares in trauma survivors and how to practically manage the distress of them
  • Introducing how to use therapeutic ‘imaginal endings’ to reduce the impact of nightmares in trauma survivors
  • Exploring the increased incidence of nightmares in sleep deprivation and disrupted circadian rhythms
  • Exploring the occurrence of parasomnias during sleep stage transitions
  • Exploring how to reframe the experience of parasomnias (nightmares, night terrors, sleep paralysis, sleepwalking) away from self-triggering trauma narratives via the use of psychoeducational
  • Exploring the impact of alcohol on the occurrence of parasomnias
  • Exploring the impact of stress on ineffective REM processing of traumatic memories
  • Exploring pharmaceutical options for reducing nightmares and hyperarousal in trauma survivors
  • Exploring the possible link between EMDR and REM sleep

Session 7: Depression and rocket fuel

  • Exploring the role of depression in blocking trauma processing
  • Exploring the limitations of the ‘monoamine deficiency theory of depression’ and the ‘catecholamine hypothesis of affective disorders’, from the development of iproniazid in the 1950s
  • Exploring the development of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in the 1970s and 1980s and the fundamental logic flaw in their use
  • Exploring the limitations and risks of the use of SSRIs especially in the treatment of trauma-related depression, including their impact on REM sleep
  • Exploring an alternative view of depression as a physiological adaptation to a body and brain under too much strain

Session 8: Inflammatory trauma

  • Understanding the mechanisms of the immune system response of inflammation as a response to threat, and its links to trauma
  • Exploring the mental health consequences and symptoms of cytokine release and the evolutionary adaptation of ‘sickness behaviour’
  • Exploring recent theories linking ‘sickness behaviour’ and depression, and depression as an inflammatory process
  • Exploring recent research linking trauma with a range of inflammatory disease processes such as depression, ‘diabesity’, cardiovascular disease, autoimmunity, dementia etc
  • Exploring the role of low cortisol and inflammation in maintaining an overreactive amygdala after trauma
  • Exploring the role of childhood trauma in forming a ‘neural-immune pipeline’ leading to increased inflammatory responses in adulthood, resulting in potential ‘stuckness’ in therapeutic endeavours

Session 9: That bad gut feeling

  • Exploring the impact of trauma on gut health for survivors
  • Exploring the links between gut dysbiosis, chronic fatigue, depression and trauma
  • Exploring how a non-diverse microbiome can have significant impacts on emotions and mood
  • Exploring the role of trauma in driving weight gain and obesity through hormonal impacts rather than simply lifestyle factors
  • Exploring the role of our microbiome in driving food-related behaviours and emotional responses such as anxiety
  • Exploring the evolutionary roots and inherent adaptation of time-restricted eating and its use as a counter to depression and anxiety
  • Exploring factors which disrupt the microbiome, including antibiotics, non-nutritive sweeteners, and some medications

Session 10: Power plays for change

  • Exploring lifestyle interventions that can help to address underlying blockages to trauma resolution
  • Exploring the role of effective psychoeducation in trauma therapy and the importance of strategic and phased work
  • Exploring how to encourage motivation and decrease shame for traumatised clients and the role of the therapist as an ‘auxiliary cortex’
  • Exploring the expression of post-traumatic powerlessness alongside therapist approaches to client re-empowerment


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