Safety in Therapeutic Interactions: A Polyvagal Influence

My journey involves a deep and prolonged exploration of the Polyvagal theory (Porges, 2011). In my quest to understand when intimacy, emotional expression, and connected communication are possible, I delved deeply into Porges’ research with the vagus nerve and its role in the evolution of the nervous system. His insights provided a road map for me and my clients to a fuller emotional life as we connected with our interoceptive awareness of emotions that motivate our behavior, their influence on our relationships, and the conscious choices we have.

Remembering John Chitty: April 15, 1949 – February 28, 2019

John Chitty, my teacher, mentor, supervisor, friend and fellow pilgrim-on-the-path, has transitioned to the “magical place” where his life began.He often said, “We are a unit of consciousness that comes from an invisible spiritual world to Earth for the purpose of gaining wisdom through experience.” He offered these words as a mantra, used whenever greeting a baby. And, I think, perhaps everyone he met. I imagine him back in that other realm having new experiences, gaining more wisdom.

12 Guiding Principles – Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology: Nurturing Human Potential and Optimal Relationships...

Understanding our earliest relationship experiences from the baby’s point of view and how these experiences set in motion life patterns has been the intense study of the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology for over 40 years. The field uses this lens to focus on our earliest human experiences from preconception through baby’s first postnatal year and its role in creating children who thrive and become resilient, loving adults. Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology incorporates research and clinical experience from leading-edge fields such as epigenetics, biodynamic embryology, infant mental health, attachment, early trauma, developmental neurosciences, consciousness studies and other new sciences. Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology incorporates research and clinical experience from leading-edge fields such as epigenetics, biodynamic embryology, infant mental health, attachment, early trauma, developmental neurosciences, consciousness studies and other new sciences.

Toward a Healing Society: A Core Energetics Perspective

Holy Moly! Every day in this country seems like a roller coaster ride and you know what, a part of me welcomes this new wave, especially the “bad” and “ugly”. Some people think it’s being exaggerated since our new administration took office but that isn’t so, the status quo is now merely being exposed. I see this as a good thing. America must awaken to sexism, classism, heterosexualism, and unsustainable ecological practices. Beyond obvious prejudice, behind superficial masks of equality, beside our continued denial of rights to the vulnerable and the disenfranchised, we must openly acknowledge insidious issues that have been both denied and accepted as long as human beings have been alive. Exposing what has been obscured is essential to facilitate change.

Anniversary Event

When we think of an anniversary, we usually think of the yearly advent of a wedding, birthday, beginning of a business. But there are subtle anniversaries that do not correspond to a date on the calendar. They are reminders, often even unconscious, of a significant event in the past. These may have been positive events or negative events.

The Sweetie Pie Syndrome by Ronan M. Kisch, Ph.D.

Sweetie Pie Syndrome typically starts in childhood — it is usually characteristic of females, but it does occur in males. This condition begins as young children are either ignored by or are demeaned by a parent or parents. This behavior can also be role modeled by a parent. As a result of this chronic neglect, abuse, for example, these children develop a sense that a) there is something wrong with them, b) they are basically unlovable, and/or c) if they do not do things to be accepted, they are unworthy. They then develop a behavioral repertoire of constantly trying to do good things and help others to gain a sense of worthiness and lovability. But no matter what or how much they do, the dysfunctional parent perpetually ignores or fails to respond with recognition, positive reinforcement and love. So, the children invest in doing more.

Dream Theater, Inc.

In a clinical world of diagnosable disabilities, there are those who create theories, those who propose methodologies, and those who ascribe to them. And then there are people who simply do what they do, intuitively, without knowing the science behind their actions. I recently met such a couple, Michelle and Troy Wheeler. They founded Dream Theatre Inc., eight years ago in Roseville, California, as a year-round, full-time theater arts program for adults with disabilities (ages 18 to 64). The program was designed to instruct, develop and guide students with disabilities who want to become actors, musicians, dancers, visual artists and behind-the-curtain technicians. While many day programs teach daily living skills, the Wheelers guide students in relationship building and maintenance with a focus on the social engagement skills necessary to facilitate them (i.e. inter and intrapersonal communication skills, self and co-affect regulation, trust, self-confidence, and more). Within the context of classes and annual performances, students learn how to be part of a working community that involves team work and personal responsibility.

The Role of Connective Tissue in Character and Armour Development

Will Davis recently shared a paper he’d written on the role of connective tissue in character and armour development. After re-evaluating Reich's concept of muscular armour, Will offered a different perspective: he felt that the holdings in the myofascial system were primarily present in connective tissue (CT), not the muscles per se as Reich assumed. Will emphasized the connective tissues’ protective response to stress, and its plastic ability, during certain conditions, to return to the prestressed, healthy state. A matrix, he says, that acts as a non-neural, instantaneous communication system throughout the body, is formed because of the semi-conductive quality of connective tissue. When I received his paper, I noted that it was 20 pages long. My initial instinct was, What? Magazine articles average 1500 words in length, not tens of thousands. And still, to honor my colleague, I read his paper. Thank goodness I did. I was fascinated by the content and pleased with the writing style—figurative language, first person, logical comparisons, concrete examples shedding light on conceptual renderings. I learned new content and enjoyed the experience. As such, I am sharing his paper with you. I offer some excerpts from his text (not in linear sequence as presented in the paper) and a link to download the PDF to print and read at your leisure.

How to stay with the how: Some pedagogical suggestions on assisting the mindful sensing...

Many people, myself included, believe that the ability to clearly sense emotions and to experience bodily sensations is crucial for our mental, emotional, and physical health, but it does not come easy for everybody. The following pedagogical suggestions are based on my personal experiences and difficulties with mindfulness meditation and my studies of and experiences with Gurdjieff awareness-work, the Alexander-technique, Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing, Fritz Perls´ gestalt therapy, and especially Wilhelm Reich with his appreciation of “the how” when it comes to bodily expression, specifically contact with reality, with the body, with the emotions, with the self and with the “other. I offer that one can argue that to be concretely aware of one’s body's experiences connects us to the “here and now” and to the experience of reality, as opposed to self-deception in diverse forms, and that it is to be expected that the endeavor will be met with resistance and that assistance may be sorely needed.hat are reported (like stress reduction, attenuation of diverse clinical symptoms etc.)

The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy, Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation

I was intrigued when I first came across Stephen W. Porges’ Polyvagal theory in 2008 reading his article entitled, Don’t Talk to Me Now, I’m Scanning for Danger. Porges’ Polyvagal theory redefined our former understanding of the autonomic nervous system, an understanding which has been in place since the mid 1800’s. In 2010, at a Somatic Experiencing® training, when my co-trainees and I were grappling with how to apply the theory, we made up lyrics and sang them to the tune of “I Loves You Porgy” from Gershwin’s 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess.” “We love you Porges, we’re polyvagal, We love your theory, though it’s complex, We want to use it, just please explain it, Write a synopsis, that would be best. We love you Porges. . . .” (I’ll spare you the rest, but you get the point.) Repeated requests at workshops and conferences for a user-friendly synopsis of his scholarly information as presented in The Polyvagal Theory, Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, Self-Regulation (2011) prompted Porges to create his more recent publication, The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe (2017). Going another step forward, Porges and co-editor Deb Dana published their newest anthology, Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies (2018). Now, Dana offers her well-developed method of incorporating the Polyvagal theory into clinical practice. In her book, The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy, Dana offers the Polyvagal theory to psychotherapists as an elegant new science-based way of working with the body.
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