I’ve just spent a week at the International Childhood Trauma Conference with at least two thousand other people. Many attendees were therapists and clinicians working with children and adults. There were also academics and pracademics like me.

I heard from expert pioneers such as Dan Hughes and Jon Baylin, Judith Herman, Christine Courtois, Paul Gilbert, Ruth Lanius, Stephen Porges, Judy Atkinson, Cindy Blackstock, Caroline Welch, and Dan Siegel. Many had made the trek around the world to Australia. It was quite overwhelming, and I am still digesting what I learned and how it might be relevant in the work that I do.

Key takeaway messages

There were a couple of key takeaways that I really valued.

Dan Hughes explained the concept of ‘therapeutic whining’. I look forward to trialling it on the teenagers in my life.

Cindy Blackstock emphasised that providing governments with evidence is not always enough. It is important to realise that governments are not failing to do better, they’re choosing not to do better.

Judy Atkinson highlighted that even now when we talk about colonisation, we take a gender lens. We focus on the massacres of the men, but ignore the rapes of women and children.

Stephen Porges talked about safety (a trauma-informed principle) as essential for good health and not an optional state of being.

And I learned about the Default Mode Network. The DMN was described in various ways as a sense of self, ‘a brain interregional circuit when we’re with ourselves’ and ‘a set of structures through the medial portion of the brain which act as a coherent neural network’.

I have handwritten and typed up notes. I am looking forward (as early as tomorrow) to using what I have learned in my teaching. Stay tuned as my new understandings of compassion and trauma infiltrate the work of the Magnolia Project.