Dr Haley Peckham: The Neuroplastic Narrative

Watch Dr Haley Peckham's presentation on the Neuroplastic Narrative now, which won the prestigious  Clinical Researcher Award; The Stan Alchin Prize at the ACMHN conference.

Most people accessing mental health services have adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and/or histories of complex trauma. In recognition of this, there are calls to move away from medical model approaches and move toward trauma-informed approaches which privilege the impact of life experience over underlying pathology in the etiology of emotional and psychological suffering. Trauma-informed approaches lack a biological narrative linking trauma and adversity to later suffering. In its absence, this suffering is diagnosed and treated as a mental illness. This study articulates the Neuroplastic Narrative, a neuroecological theory that fills this gap, conceptualizing emotional and psychological suffering as the cost of surviving and adapting to the impinging environments of trauma and adversity. The Neuroplastic Narrative privileges lived experience and recognizes that our experiences become embedded in our biology through evolved mechanisms that ultimately act to preserve survival in the service of reproduction.