During this training, participants engaged in a dynamic exploration aimed at dispelling prevalent myths surrounding the intersection of trauma and memory.

Speaker- Dr. Ronald Zammit

Dr. Ronald Zammit is registered as a Clinical Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the UK. As well as a Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapist with the British Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Psychotherapies. He is also an EMDR practitioner and Certified Clinical Trauma professional.

Defining Trauma

Willingness | <strong>Workshop: Trauma and Memory</strong>

The workshop covered fundamental topics related to the definition of the traumatic experience in psychological and neurobiological terms and the relationship between trauma and the memory systems. Dr. Zammit started by mentioning the most usual symptomatology of trauma. Such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, chronic emotion dysregulation, dissociation or somatization. At the same time, the speaker pointed out that trauma is a very complex procedure which is closely related to our survival instinct. Where the sense of danger plays a key role in a traumatic experience. The human brain can execute various procedures in order to protect us from stress and discomfort. This is the point when memory systems start playing an important role as well.

Memory Systems

Τhe speaker elaborated on the types of mnemonic systems and the different roles they play in memory formation. It is known that there are two types of memory, explicit memory and implicit memory. Explicit memory includes semantic information and episodic memory. While implicit memory includes procedural and emotional memory. At the same time, discussions emphasised the crucial role of various brain areas in memory formation. For instance, the hippocampus governs episodic memory, the basal ganglia handles procedural memory, and the amygdala manages emotional memory.

Myths about trauma

Willingness | <strong>Workshop: Trauma and Memory</strong>

In this part of the workshop Dr. Zammit focused on 3 most common myths about trauma.  The first myth discussed was the belief that the exact recall of a traumatic memory/experience is possible. The second myth relates to repressed traumatic memories. As many people and mental health professionals tend to believe that it is extremely rare for someone to be unable to remember an actual traumatic experience. This topic causes a lot of debates among professionals. According to the speaker, therapists must be extremely careful in approaching traumatic experiences during therapy. On the other hand, there is even the possibility that a therapist may enhance the client’s construction of a fictitious traumatic memory, throughout leading questions and suggestions.

The third and final myth discussed concerns the belief that recalling traumatic memories is always and necessarily devastating and painful.  Undoubtedly, exploring and trying to heal a trauma is not an easy process. However, as Dr. Ronald highlighted, within a completely safe and accepting environment such as that of therapy, and with the support and respect of the therapist, the individual can find the redemption and relief they search for.

Questions and Discussion

Willingness | <strong>Workshop: Trauma and Memory</strong>

At the last part of the workshop Dr. Zammit dedicated some time for reflections and discussion. The participants had the opportunity to listen to different perspectives and discuss clinical experiences with clients. Practitioners must actively seek comprehensive understanding of the neurobiology of trauma and its link to memory. This knowledge enhances comprehension and therapeutic approaches.

If you are interested in listening to the entire “Trauma and Memory” workshop, it can now be viewed here.

Written by Effrosyni Antoniadou

Effrosyni Antoniadou is a Psychology graduate from Aristotele’s University. Ccurrently working as an intern at Willingness. Additionally, she has volunteered in public mental health services and has done an internship in the field of drug addiction. She has also worked with children and adolescents and is interested in expanding her knowledge and experience in clinical psychology.