Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty: Understanding Toxic Stress and the Impact of COVID


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Instructor: Abstract:

In this 60 minute webinar, participants will learn about responses to traumatic stress with a focus on resilience. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats and even significant sources of stress…” This session will review psychosocial and neurobiological factors that have been associated with resilience. It will highlight that most people are more resilient than they think, that the individual’s resilience is influenced by other human beings, resources, culture, religion, and community, that resilience can co-exist with symptoms of traumatic stress, that there is a science to resilience and that resilience can be learned. Primary focus will be the following factors that are associated with resilience: having resilient role models, ability to regulate emotions and face fear, cognitive flexibility including acceptance and positive cognitive reappraisal, active vs passive coping style, social support, training, and meaning and purpose.  The second half of the presentation will consider more about normal, essential stress and how toxic stress differs from it. Participants will learn about the secondary trauma that comes from toxic stress. This presentation will cover how learning to cope with moderate, short-lived stress can build a healthy stress response system. Toxic stress—when the body’s stress response system is activated excessively—can weaken developing brain architecture. Without caring adults to buffer children, toxic stress associated with extreme poverty, neglect, abuse, or severe maternal depression can have long-term consequences for learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.

Speaker Bios

Linda Mayes, MD, will present at the Community Forum: Mental Health, Law, and Immigration hosted by the Austen Riggs Center on Friday, October, 12, 2018.Dr. Linda Mayes is the Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology and Director of the Yale Child Study Center.  She is also Special Advisor to the Dean in the Yale School of Medicine.  Trained as a pediatrician, Dr. Mayes’s research focuses on stress-response and regulatory mechanisms in young children at both biological and psychosocial risk. She has especially focused on the impact of prenatal substance use on children’s long-term outcome. She has made contributions to understanding the mechanisms of effect of prenatal stimulant exposure on the ontogeny of arousal regulatory systems and the relation between dysfunctional emotional regulation and impaired prefrontal cortical function in young children.  She has published widely in the developmental psychology, pediatrics, and child psychiatry literature.  Given the nature of her work with children at significantly high-risk for developmental impairments from both biological and psychosocial etiologies, Dr. Mayes also focuses on the impact of parenting on the development of arousal and attention regulatory mechanisms in their children and specifically on how substance abuse impacts reward and stress regulatory systems in new parents. With other colleagues in the Center, she studies how adults transition to parenthood especially when substance abuse is involved and the basic neural circuitry of early parent-infant attachment using both neuroimaging and electroencephalographic techniques. She and her colleagues have developed a series of interventions for parents including an intensive home-based program called Minding the Baby. Her research programs are multidisciplinary not only in their blending basic science with clinical interventions but also in the disciplines required including adult and child psychiatry, behavioral neuroscience, obstetrics, pediatrics, and neuropsychology. She is also a Distinguished Visiting Professor in psychology at Sewanee: The University of the South where she is working on intervention programs to enhance child and family resilience.

Steven Southwick, MD, presents an online course on Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty. Dr. Steven Southwick received an MD from George Washington Medical School, 1980. He completed his psychiatry residency at Yale University School of Medicine. He is the Glenn H. Greenberg Professor of Psychiatry, PTSD and Resilience at Yale University Medical School and Yale Child Study Center, Medical Director of the Clinical Neuroscience Diversion of the Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. His interests include the psychology and neurobiology of psychological trauma, PTSD, and resilience to stress. He has worked with a wide range of trauma survivors including combat veterans, civilian children and adults with PTSD, and very high functioning stress resilient former prisoners of war and active duty Special Forces soldiers and Navy Seals.

Format: Videocast and Audio Podcast

Continuing Education Credits Authorized: 1

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to define resilience
Participants will be able to discuss psychosocial factors associated with resilience
Participants will be able to discuss ways to enhance well-being through resilience building strategies
Participants will be able to describe the effects of toxic stress on children
Participants will be able to describe secondary trauma related to toxic stress

System Requirements

The Austen Riggs Center Continuing Medical Education and Online Courses system is offered to users who are able to access these courses with systems and devices meeting the following requirements:

  • Internet Explorer 11 or 10
  • Latest Versions of Safari, Firefox, and Chrome
  • Apple iPhone and iPad devices running iOS 7 or iOS 8
  • Android 4.4.x-capable devices
  • No pop-up blockers or browser extensions that interfere with multimedia rendering of content installed or enabled.