Many of my clients have engaged in traditional “talk therapy” gaining insight into their emotional or relational blocks yet they continue to struggle with sustained change. Others have focused on using medication or behavioral strategies to create change only to find the symptom returns when life stressors overwhelm them. Most traditional therapy is referred to as “top down” or cognitive treatment.
My approach is Polyvagal-Informed in that I work directly with the neurophysiology and the stress response system. This approach focuses on the body-mind connection via the vagus nerve and its role in physical, social, and psychological health. Somatic or “bottom-up” approaches to treatment directly intervene with the limbic system or sub-cortical (sensorimotor) areas of the brain accessing emotional and sensorimotor processes and engaging the body’s innate capacity to heal.
Treatment modalities that are incorporated into my therapeutic approach include:
Somatic Experiencing: Re-establishing the Rhythm of the Nervous System
Somatic Experiencing (SE), developed by Dr. Peter Levine, is a neuroscientifically-based approach to treatment. SE works with interoception and proprioception to effect change in the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, or our central stress response system. The HPA axis is an eloquent and every-dynamic intertwining of the central nervous system and endocrine system. The HPA axis is responsible for the neuroendocrine adaptation component of the stress response. Chronic stress has been shown to have serious implications on health contributing to conditions such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, eating concerns, weight, adrenal fatigue, IBS, chronic fatigue, and other auto immune disorders.
Recognizing bodily sensations is a key aspect of Somatic Experiencing as this is the primary language of the autonomic nervous system. SE sometimes involves touch, which most therapists avoid (the taboo of touch). Body-oriented therapies believe that therapeutic touch can be immensely helpful for many people, and SE therapists typically receive training in how to use therapeutic touch effectively and ethically.
For more information on Somatic Experiencing visit: http://traumahealing.org
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (currently in Level II of training program)
Developed by Pat Ogden, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a body-based talk therapy that works with thoughts, emotions, and the body through directed mindfulness to increase self-awareness and support innate healing. Similar to Somatic Experiencing, SP employs somatic sequencing of the stuck survival energy that is often trapped in the body due to trauma. In addition, SP specializes in attachment dynamics or our earliest interactions and explores how these processes shape our current relational patterns and become the template for how we view ourselves and the world. As many of the beliefs we developed in childhood are held in our implicit processes (in the body), SP works directly with the body to bring conscious awareness to these processes so that clients can move towards change.
For information on Sensorimotor Psychotherapy visit: https://sensorimotorpsychotherapy.org/
Co-regulation through touch is part of healthy human development. Touch is a gentle and non-intrusive way to support regulation in the nervous system and facilitate mind/body connection. Touch supports grounding, boundary formation, development of safety, attends to attachment ruptures, and restores nervous system regulation. Therapeutic Touch reduces cortisol production and increases oxytocin. Untreated trauma that is pre-verbal is held in the implicit processes of the body. Co-regulation through touch provides tools to build resiliency and self-regulation when disturbances occurred in utero, at birth, or before age three.
For more information on Transforming Touch visit: https://www.austinattach.com/training-overview/transforming-the-experience-based-brain/
Relational Bodywork and Somatic Education (BASE™)
BASE™ for trauma practitioners works directly with the body to allow change of dysregulation in the body tissues, organs, and structures. It recognizes the connection between touch and healthy development and considers how the body is part of our early template of the relational and bonding systems. Trauma providers trained in BASE™ touch skills facilitate the release of emotions in the physiology or work directly with stuck survival energy (fight, flight, freeze) that is held in the physiology so clients can move towards ease and freedom in the body.
For more information on Relational Bodywork and visit: https://daveberger.net/base
Safe Sound Protocol
Formerly known as “The Listening Project Protocol”, Safe Sound Protocol (SSP) is based on more than 40 years of research investigating relationships between the autonomic nervous system and social-emotional processes. Developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, the originator of The Polyvagal Theory (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2007), SSP is an auditory intervention designed to reduce stress and auditory sensitivity while enhancing social engagement and resilience.
The music used in SSP trains the auditory pathways by focusing on the frequency envelope of human speech. As your ANS learns to process these speech-related frequencies, it improves the functioning of cranial nerves that are important for promoting overall social behavior.
Cranial Nerve VII (Facial Nerve) helps clients focus on human voice and tune out irrelevant frequencies.
Cranial Nerve X (Vagus Nerve) enables self-soothing and autonomic regulation.
SSP is a research-based therapy showing significant results in the following areas:
- Social and emotional difficulties
• Auditory sensitivities
• Anxiety and trauma related challenges
• Depression and sense of disconnection
• Stressors that impact social engagement
• Improvement with functional medical issues such as IBS
SSP is not a stand alone therapy but is a platform for other types of treatment.
For more information visit ILS at https://integratedlistening.com/ssp-safe-sound-protocol/
Three years ago, I opened The Embodied Recovery Institute with Rachel Lewis Marlow, MS, EdS, LPC, and LMBT who is a bodyworker and Sensorimotor Psychotherapist. She and I developed a model of treatment called, Embodied Recovery that weaves together Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, and Body-Mind Centering. I am now a student of Body-Mind Centering studying with teachers who have trained in this model and adding components of this lens into my approach to healing. Body-Mind Centering® (BMCSM) is an integrated and embodied approach to movement, the body, and consciousness. Developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, it is an experiential study based on the embodiment and application of anatomical, physiological, psychophysical and developmental principles, utilizing movement, touch, voice and mind.
For more information on Body-Mind Centering visit: https://www.bodymindcentering.com/