Commentary by Merete Holm Brantjberg
In her new book, The Body Remembers Volume 2: Revolutionizing Trauma Treatment, Babette Rothschild includes what she calls a new ‘tool’, which is, in effect, a table and chart that identify the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the effects of ANS arousal in the therapeutic setting. It is designed to help therapists better monitor, evaluate, and regulate client ANS arousal states thus making trauma treatment safer through observation and modulation.
The information as graphically depicted in this book represents what I call a ‘map’. Babette and I have been colleagues for many years in the same professional field, and we share a common passion—we like making maps. Furthermore, we like to keep working with them until they have reached a level of precision that is helpful not only to ourselves but also to other trained trauma therapists – and to clients.
A map, inherent in its design, provides both sign posts of what is considered ‘normal’, which in this case are noted as a calm state and an active/alert state, as well as oscillations away from the norm, which here include a move from calm to lethargic and a move from active/alert to either flight/fight, hyper freeze or hypo freeze. The map’s purpose is to include information regarding the named states with both verbal identifiers, (i.e., apathy, depression, safe, clear thinking, ready to act, react to danger, prepare for death), and visual markers, what to look for from a body based perspective (muscles, respiration, pupil dilation, skin tone and so forth).
Babette Rothschild has taken up the challenge of making a map that holds a differentiation of both sympathetic and parasympathetic arousal states – both in the “normal life” range of activation and in the range of life-threat. Inclusion and normalization matter when working with trauma. . . .
To read Merete’s commentary in full, please CLICK HERE
Reprinted with permission, International Body Psychotherapy Journal Volume 16(3) Fall 2017. www.IBPJ.org
Merete Holm Brantbjerg is a psychomotor-trainer and co-creator of Bodynamic Analysis, a somatic psychotherapy tradition developed in Denmark. She names her current approach “Relational Trauma Therapy” – combining psychomotor skill training and systems oriented work with the goal of establishing systems in which mutual regulation of what has been held in dissociation can happen. Merete leads body psychotherapy trainings and workshops in Scandinavia, London, Holland and Canada and maintains a private practice for therapy and supervision in Copenhagen.