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Trauma Healing Modalities: Methods and Frameworks

Updated: Mar 2

I employ a variety of methods and frameworks from different trauma healing modalities in my work with clients including: Somatic Experiencing, Interpersonal Neurobiology, NARM, and the Polyvgal Theory - as well as the work of trailblazers like Bill Plotkin, Kathy Kain, Natureza Gabriel Kram, and other pioneers in the fields of healing (repairing what went amiss) and wholing (developing our well-rounded maturity). Working with each of these methodologies as a client has changed my life for the better.

Interpersonal Neurobiology understands that our minds (software) brains (hardware) and relationships work in tandem to form and change one another. IPNB holds that integration is the key to health…Integration meaning the complimentary features of differentiation and linkage. Think of listening to a choir … if everyone is singing the exact same note there will be lots of linkage with no differentiation and things will feel rigid. Whereas if the individuals are all singing different random notes there will be lots of differentiation without any linkage and things will feel chaotic. All of the symptoms of distress and trauma are either forms of rigidity (too much linkage) or chaos (too much differentiation) or a combination of both. By learning to bring differentiation and linkage back in to balance in our bodies, relationships, and minds we can return to states of integration and the health and resilience found there. Many of the most elusive challenges are going to depend on working with each of these facets of our experience in order to find healing and change. 

The Polyvagal Theory was born out of Dr. Stephen Porges research in comparative neuroanataomy. Remember middle school biology when you learned about the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system branches? Well Porges work takes that a lot deeper and explores how our autonomic nervous system is constantly tracking for safety and danger … and based on what it finds moment to moment, it changes our entire physiology …which in turn changes what thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we have access to.

So what we notice is that either we are feeling more at EASE and ready to engage the world around us, or we feel stressed and ready to take ACTION, or we feel SHUTDOWN, fatigued or on auto-pilot. If we just try to change how we are feeling without first working with the underlying nervous system states in our bodies then we typically don’t get very far - or we make some changes and then things backfire. By learning how your nervous system operates and how to work with it instead of against it we can make much more sustainable change.

The Neuro Affective Relational Model (NARM) was developed by Dr. Lawerence Heller in response to the need to better support individuals dealing with impacts of developmental trauma and CPTSD. It emphasizes the ways that we learned to disconnect from ourselves and our relationships in order to survive in childhood. By exploring the ways that these survival adaptations are still often running our lives and relationships (especially with ourselves) we can reconnect to our own vitality and find a new sense of freedom and fulfillment, sometimes for the first time.

Somatic Experiencing (SE™) is a body-oriented therapeutic model applied in multiple professions and professional settings—psychotherapy, medicine, coaching, teaching, bodywork, and physical therapy—for healing trauma and other stress disorders. It is based on a multidisciplinary intersection of physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics and has been clinically applied for more than four decades. It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter A. Levine.

The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma. It offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states.

I am trained in the SE methodology and use it as the backbone of my practice in helping you to overcome the lingering effects of accumulated stress and trauma. While things like talk therapy or cognitive approaches can be helpful, research shows that these practices fail to address the ongoing causes of trauma. Resolving the underlying dysregulation and turmoil require working directly with the body's physiology and helping the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), the part that deals with safety and threat, to find a new normal.

This work is intentionally slow so as to provide the appropriate conditions for the ANS to contact and discharge the intense survival energies (aka emotions, sensations, images, & movement patterns) that become 'stuck' in our bodies after overwhelming or traumatic conditions. While there is no such thing as a magic bullet, many clients report a decrease in symptoms (such as pain, hyper-vigilance, stress, relational difficulties) and an increase in presence, vitality & connection to oneself and Life from working with the SE framework. Oftentimes these same individuals have tried many other forms of therapy or healing modalities before coming to SE. This work is collaborative and both benefits from, and yields, curiosity. You can find more support on the resources page.

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