Dave is the Founder and Director of Yoga Services for the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Brookline Massachusetts, where he coined the term trauma-sensitive yoga (TSY).
David was responsible for curriculum development, supervision and oversight of the yoga intervention component of the first of its kind, NIH funded study, conducted by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk to assess the utility and feasibility of yoga for adults with treatment-resistant PTSD.
Dave has developed, conducted, and supervised TSY groups for rape crisis centers, domestic violence programs, residential programs for youth, military bases, survivors of terrorism, and Veterans Administration centers and clinics.
In addition to co-authoring several articles on the subject of yoga and trauma, Dave is the co-author of Overcoming Trauma through Yoga, released in 2011 by North Atlantic Books and Author of Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy (Norton, 2015). He leads trainings for yoga teachers and mental health clinicians in North America, Europe, and Asia.
What Led to the Specialization of Trauma?
David shares his beginnings working with teens, then as a social worker, his fortuitous meeting with Bessel van der Kolk, and then how he landed at The Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute.
Being useful is a motivator. But to be with a group that is interested in trying to develop a relationship with their body is very empowering.
- Be aware of where you’re coming from, for example, what your background and influences are as a therapist. You have to be willing to have a shared authentic experience with your client and still be safe. Dropping the hierarchical approach.
- Is it possible to have a rel where we don’t have to impose experience.
David’s go-to books
- Overcoming Trauma through Yoga, David Emerson
- Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy, David Emerson
- Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society1st Edition, by Bessel A. van der Kolk (Editor), Alexander C. McFarlane (Editor), Lars Weisaeth (Editor)
- Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror 1st Edition, by Judith L. Herman
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
- The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute
- Yoga as an Adjunctive Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Conversation with David Emerson, Kelly, Costing, Yoga and Eating Disorders, 2016.
- What to Expect from a Trauma Center Yoga Class– David Emerson