6 Ways to Heal Trauma Without Medication: A Revolutionary Approach by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

Trauma, an uninvited guest that can linger for years, often drives people towards conventional medication for relief. But what if these medicines are not the silver bullet we assume them to be? Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, with his 50 years of extensive research, brings us 6 ways to heal trauma without medication. This article unveils the groundbreaking approaches he has discovered, shedding light on alternative ways to embark on a healing journey. Let’s dive deeper.

Understanding Trauma: A Glimpse Into Its Nature

Trauma affects our survival instincts first. We ask ourselves, is this situation safe or dangerous? It’s important to understand that reactions to trauma come from our bodies, urging us to question how we can make our bodies feel fundamentally safe again.

Psychotherapy: A Shoulder to Lean On

  • Purpose: Not necessarily to “fix” people but to help them acknowledge their traumatic experiences and the wounds they carry.
  • Self-compassion: Realizing that our reactions to trauma are valid and understandable is a vital step in the healing journey.

Beyond Traditional Therapies: The Revolutionary Techniques

1. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing):

  • What is it? A technique that involves following finger movements side to side while recalling traumatic memories.
  • Benefits: Helps reinterpret the traumatic event, enabling individuals to distinguish between past events and current reality.

2. Yoga:

  • Purpose: To develop a deeper connection with one’s internal sensory system.
  • How it works: Through various postures and breathing techniques, individuals can calm their minds and understand how different movements affect them.
  • Outcome: It has proven more effective in treating PTSD than several conventional drugs.

3. Theater and Movement:

  • Concept: Adopting different roles to experience how your body feels.
  • Real-world application: The “Shakespeare in the Courts” program, where juvenile delinquents become Shakespearean actors, enabling them to explore different facets of their personalities.

4. Neurofeedback:

  • Method: Using electrodes on the skull to reward certain brainwaves that induce calmness and focus.
  • Results: This technique reshapes the brain, allowing individuals to be more receptive to new experiences.

5. Psychedelics:

  • Introduction: About 15 years ago, researchers began considering psychedelics like MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy or molly) for trauma treatment.
  • Procedure: Participants would consume the drug and lie on a bed with two therapists for an 8-hour session.
  • Outcome: Individuals can confront their traumatic experiences with compassion, leading to a substantial drop in PTSD symptoms.

6. Individualized Treatment:

  • Remember, one size doesn’t fit all. What works for one individual may not necessarily work for another. Healing from trauma is a unique journey for each person.


  1. What is the main purpose of EMDR in trauma treatment?
    • EMDR helps reinterpret traumatic events, allowing individuals to separate past traumas from their current reality.
  2. How is yoga beneficial in treating trauma?
    • Yoga promotes a deep connection with one’s internal sensory system, proving more effective in treating PTSD than several conventional drugs.
  3. How does the “Shakespeare in the Courts” program help juvenile delinquents?
    • It allows them to adopt different roles and explore various facets of their personalities, aiding in trauma healing.
  4. What role do psychedelics like MDMA play in trauma therapy?
    • MDMA allows individuals to confront their traumatic experiences with compassion, leading to a substantial drop in PTSD symptoms.
  5. Is there a one-size-fits-all solution for trauma healing?
    • No, individualized treatments are essential. What works for one may not work for another.


6 ways to heal trauma without medication offers groundbreaking insights into the world of trauma healing. While traditional medication has its place, it’s crucial to explore alternative methods that can effectively aid in recovery. As Dr. Bessel van der Kolk emphasizes, healing from trauma is an experiment, and every individual’s journey is unique. As we continue to discover and embrace these alternative healing techniques, we move closer to a world where trauma’s chains can be effectively broken.

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