“I thought it was hyperbole,” said one participant. “’The 'Titans of Trauma,’ but the speakers were phenomenal.” The titans were gathered for Echo Parenting & Education’s annual Changing the Paradigm conference at The California Endowment in Los Angeles; the illustrious group included Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Dr. Stephanie Covington, Heather Forbes, and Echo’s founder, Ruth Beaglehole.
With over 300 attendees, the conference was sold out. This reflects the growing interest and understanding about childhood trauma and how it can prime the body for greater susceptibility to illness (mental and physical), drive people to unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol or drugs, and amp up emotional responses to swing between extremes of rage and paranoia or depression and inward collapse.
And why was Echo putting on this conference? Every time trauma experts like Dr. van der Kolk are asked the question, “What can prevent childhood trauma?” they always reply, “Parenting.” But unlike Echo’s nonviolent approach, not all parenting is able to maintain the essential connection between caregiver and child - the safe, stable, nurturing relationship that research proves heals and protects against trauma.
“Childhood trauma is the number one health care issue of our time,” remarked Dr. Robert Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment – something the conference participants were left in no doubt about. Along with increased awareness, we hope that the participants also left with some tools that we can use to help build resilience in our children.
I choked up telling the conference participants the story of my son and his travails, and his avowal that having experienced unconditional love, he will also raise his children nonviolently. A little incoherent, a little emotional, but perhaps the perfect ending for a conference that was all about healing ourselves, protecting our children, and eradicating childhood trauma.
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