Since its founding in 1947, the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University has been at the forefront of the scientific study of human sexuality and the advancement of sexual health and knowledge worldwide. In the 70 years since the establishment of the institute, there has been a growing awareness that abuse, neglect, and trauma negatively impact health and social relationships including human sexuality. As we evaluate current social issues, sexual harassment and violence, bullying, and other forms of abuse are being acknowledged. However, the consequences of these disruptive experiences are still not part of public awareness. To address this gap, the Kinsey Institute is now expanding its research focus to study the effects of traumatic stress on human sexuality, health, and relationships.
In studying trauma, scientists have been far more constrained than clinicians with limited knowledge of the experiences of survivors. But as a scientist, I know that laboratory studies are not sufficient to understand the personal trajectories of trauma survivors. As a trauma therapist, you have been privileged to learn from your clients and to observe their courageous attempts to deal with the disruptive impact of trauma on mental health, physical health, relationships, and sexuality.
Through frequent interactions with passionate clinicians and often with survivors of trauma over the past two decades, I have gained tremendous respect for the clinicians, who work heroically as a team with their clients to restore their feelings of safety.
The Kinsey Institute's Traumatic Stress Research Consortium is an attempt to conceptualize a research model to supplement the academic-scientific community with the knowledge obtained by clinicians and experienced by survivors of trauma.
Through the consortium, the Kinsey Institute wants to engage trauma therapists and their clients to document the personal trajectory of survivors, to understand the effectiveness of treatments, and to further understand the consequence of trauma on health, neurophysiological, psychological, and psychosocial mechanisms. This information will inform both researchers and clinicians to develop and implement more effective and efficient treatment models.
Stephen W. Porges, PhD
Director, Kinsey Institute Traumatic Stress Research Consortium (KI-TSRC)
Distinguished University Scientist, Kinsey Institute at Indiana University
The focus of this research is to examine the disruptive impact of trauma on the nervous system and look through the lens of brain-body functions at the clinical issues that bring clients to treatment. We are interested in learning about the experiences of trauma survivors and also of the clinicians who work with them.
The goals of the KI-TSRC are:
To achieve these goals, the Kinsey Institute is assembling a worldwide group of approximately 1000 clinicians who specialize in working with trauma and will identify clients from their clinical caseloads to participate in our research studies. This international and interdisciplinary group of clinicians and scientists will examine the neurophysiological, psychological, developmental, and social processes through which trauma disrupts and compromises the human experience.
Information will be collected through use of a secure Internet portal. Demographic information and standardized questionnaires comprise one part of the data collection. Surveys used will include questions about childhood trauma, life events, physical pain, sexual satisfaction, body awareness, and autonomic nervous system reactivity.
As the KI-TSRC is established, we will pilot and implement new innovative means of collecting physiological indices through the Internet. New technologies are being developed in the KI-TSRC laboratories to use noncontact devices such as webcams and microphones to measure nervous system function.
As the consortium develops, we will be collaborating with affiliate clinics to create remote laboratories that will have the capabilities to transmit physiological indices through voice and video channels to the consortum research team. This innovative strategy will enable us to blend psychophysiological research technologies, formerly only available in research institutions, with survey research requiring only a personal computer and an Internet connection.