Polyvagal Theory applied to dissociative states

A one-day workshop for bodyworkers, psychotherapists and meditators

Friday 27th October 2017

Stephen Porges' Polyvagal Theory (PVT) describes how the Autonomic nervous system (ANS) has evolved to deal with everyday and extreme emergencies.  

Since the ANS controls our physiology and arousal states and is the medium for embodied emotional states, it plays a part in all of our experiences of life - even many types of experience that are usually considered to be "mental" or "of the mind".  It also determines the body's adaptation to trauma and stress, and so if one understands the ANS, one also understands all of the the physical and much of the psychological adaptations that arise form both acute and chronic stress/trauma.

I have been applying PVT in my bodywork practice for about 10 years, and find it an invaluable tool to understand physical problems and pain.  Most importantly, it provides a map to the body-mind aspects of trauma, and a guide to how the body and mind may be either a source of resilience or our worst enemy.  This purely depends on the feedback loops that we create back into the ANS through our conscious (or non-conscious) attention.

PVT has some limitations, in that it is usually taught within the context of psychotherapy, and emphasis is usually placed on hyperarousal.  In fact, if hyperarousal were the main problem, we would be able to go for a run and have a nice hot cup of tea with friends, and then everything would self-regulate.  So in Trauma, the main issue is always dissociation/hypoarousal.  Because of the autonomic aspect of PVT, there are also major implications for physical health - which will also be discussed.  Since hypoarousal tends to be associated with numb, blank and empty somatic states that can be easily activated and which may quickly expand and flood the field of consciousness, it is particularly difficult to work with in any modality, and is a serious issue in meditation practices.  

The basic PVT model will be put into a practical context that is teachable to patients as a life-skill.  Additional material I have found particularly useful (e.g. loosely coupled control systems as a basis for fragmentation, incomplete biological processes, mirror neurons, cellular processes, biological meaning of emotions, etc) to understanding and appying PVT is integrated into PVT theory to arrive at a model of dissociation that joins the dots between psychotherapy, body therapies, energy therapies.

The general approach covered during the workshop is to treat dissociation/ hypoarousal (and associated hyperaroused states) as functional adaptations instead of pathologies.  This compassionate "Vitalist" approach results in a very powerful means to reverse trauma with minimal risk of re-traumatisation.  We will gradually work through the day to increasingly integrate the theory into practical exercises.

This workshop is a technical and intensive version of the Body Mind series of workshops, and is also the first day of "Finding the Edge" workshops.


Location : Norwich (Norfolk, UK)

Dates : Friday 27th October 2017

Location : Norwich (Norfolk, UK)

Cost : £120 in advance

Times : 1000-1800 6hrs CPD


Full course fee payable to book your place on this workshop.

Booking is cancellable up to one calendar month before the workshop start date, for a full refund less £10 admin fee.  Venue details etc will be sent to you within 1 week of application being received.  If the workshop is cancelled for any reason, your full payment is will be returned.


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