Keynote Speaker


Daniel G. Amen, MD

Daniel Amen believes that brain health is central to all health and success. “When your brain works right,” he says, “you work right; and when your brain is troubled you are much more likely to have trouble in your life.” His work is dedicated to helping people have better brains and better lives.

The Washington Post called Dr. Amen the most popular psychiatrist in America and Sharecare named him the web’s #1 most influential expert and advocate on mental health.

Dr. Amen is a physician, double board-certified psychiatrist, 10 time New York Times bestselling author and international speaker.  He is the founder of Amen Clinics in Costa Mesa and San Francisco, California; Bellevue, Washington; Reston, Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia; New York, New York and Chicago, Illinois.  Amen Clinics have one of the highest published success rates treating complex psychiatric issues, and they have built the world’s largest database of functional brain scans, totaling more than 135,000 scans on patients from 111 countries.

Through his research using the Amen Clinics database Dr. Amen has published over 70 scientific articles on a wide range of topics including autism, resistant depression, suicide, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and others that have appeared in many prestigious journals, including Molecular Psychiatry, PLOS One, Nature’s Translational Psychiatry, Nature’s Obesity, Military Medicine, and Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience.

Dr. Amen is the lead researcher on the world’s largest brain imaging and rehabilitation study on professional football players. His research has not only demonstrated high levels of brain damage in players, it also showed the possibility of significant recovery for many with the principles that underlie his work.   His research on posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury was recognized by Discover Magazine in its Year in Science issue as one of the “100 Top 100 Stories of 2015.”

Together with Pastor Rick Warren and Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Amen is also one of the chief architects on Saddleback Church’s “Daniel Plan,” a program to get the world healthy through religious organizations, which has been taught in thousands of churches around the world.

Dr. Amen is the author of over 30 books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, The Daniel Plan, Unleash the Power of the Female Brain and Healing ADD. In November 2016 Penguin published Dr. Amen and Mrs. Amen’s two newest books The Brain Warrior’s Way and The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook.

Dr. Amen has written, produced and hosted 12 popular shows about the brain on public television.  He has appeared in movies, including After the Last Round and The Crash Reel, and in Emmy-winning television shows, such as The Truth About Drinking and the Dr. Oz Show.  He was a consultant on the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith.  He has also spoken for the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), Harvard’s Learning and the Brain Conference, the Department of the Interior, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Supreme Courts of Delaware, Ohio and Wyoming. Dr. Amen’s work has been featured in Newsweek, Time Magazine, Huffington Post, BBC, The Guardian, Parade Magazine, New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, LA Times, Men’s Health, and Cosmopolitan.

Dr. Amen is married to Tana, the father of four children and grandfather to Elias, Emmy, Liam and Louie. He is an avid table tennis player.

Bessel van der Kolk

Bessel van der Kolk, MD

Bessel van der Kolk MD has spent his career studying how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences, and has translated emerging findings from neuroscience and attachment research to develop and study a range of potentially effective treatments for traumatic stress in children and adults.

In 1984 he set up one of the first clinical/research centers in the US dedicated to study and treatment of traumatic stress in civilian populations, which has trained numerous researchers and clinicians specializing in the study and treatment of traumatic stress, and which has been continually funded to research the impact of traumatic stress and effective treatment interventions. He did the first studies on the effects of SSRIs on PTSD; was a member of the first neuroimaging team to investigate how trauma changes brain processes, and did the first research linking BPD and deliberate self-injury to trauma and neglect in early childhood.

Much of his research has focused on how trauma has a different impact at different stages of development, and that disruptions in care-giving systems have additional deleterious effects that need to be addressed for effective intervention. In order to promote a deeper understanding of the impact of childhood trauma and to foster the development and execution of effective treatment interventions, he initiated the process that led to the establishment of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), a Congressionally mandated initiative that now funds approximately 150 centers specializing in developing effective treatment interventions, and implementing them in a wide array of settings, from juvenile detention centers to tribal agencies, nationwide.

He has focused on studying treatments that stabilize physiology, increase executive functioning and help traumatized individuals to feel fully alert to the present. This has included an NIMH funded study on EMDR and NCCAM funded study of yoga, and, in recent years, the study of neurofeedback to investigate whether attentional and perceptual systems (and the neural tracks responsible for them) can be altered by changing EEG patterns.

His efforts resulted in the establishment of Trauma Center at JRI, that consist of a well-trained clinical team specializing in the treatment of children and adults with histories of child maltreatment, that applies treatment models that are widely taught and implemented nationwide, a research lab that studies the effects of neurofeedback and MDMA on behavior, mood, and executive functioning, and numerous trainings nationwide to a variety of mental health professional, educators, parent groups, policy makers, and law enforcement personnel.