Polyvagal Theory applied to dissociative states

A one-day workshop for bodyworkers, psychotherapists and meditators and anyone wishing to understand how to finad an embodied sense of safety

Saturday 3rd November 2018

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 and body-oriented 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 and commone everyday experience of being in a body.

The general approach covered during the workshop is to treat dissociation/ hypoarousal (and associated hyperaroused states) as functional adaptations instead of pathologies.  This compassionate "body-oriented" 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.



Who might benefit from this workshop?

This workshop is a slightly technical and intensive version of the Body Mind series of workshops, and is also the first day of "Finding the Edge" workshops.  It is suitable for therapists of any background who are interested in understanding the biological causes of trauma trauma.  The map I am teaching provides a simple and  accurate way to navigate states of consciousness.  It is also a model that can be taught to patients, giving them tools to participate effectively in treatment sessions.  In addition to therapists, it will be of interest to anyone who has suffered trauma who wants to understand how they can reverse traumatisation.  And it provides a very practical guideline on how to become trauma-proof - which really is of interest to everyone!


Location : Norwich (Norfolk, UK)

Dates : Saturday 3rd November 2018

Cost : £120 in advance,

£100 earlybird (before 1st October)

Times : 0930-1730 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.


If you would like to be kept informed of future workshops, please leave your email address here. 

Contacts are considered confidential and will not be passed on to any other parties.