Volume 5 Issue 10 (October 2017)
The polyvagal theory of Stephen Porges has given us a remarkable insight into the relationship between mental states and the hierarchical functions of the nervous system. Of particular interest to clinicians is its perspective on affect regulation, social engagement, and fear responses, which takes us beyond the central nervous system to consider the importance of the peripheral nervous system. Porges’s research has broadened our understanding of the autonomic nervous system through his description of the branches of the vagus nerve and the role they play in stress and trauma, and in regulating relaxation and social engagement. We are fortunate this month to have an article from Porges’ recent book, The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe, which introduces his polyvagal theory and explains why our clients’ feeling of safety is of upmost importance for us as therapists.
Nicely dovetailing with Porges’s article, we have an important and very practical article by Babette Rothschild who continues the theme of the autonomic nervous system to help us better understand what to look for in our clients. Taken from her new book, The Body Remembers, Volume 2: Revolutionizing Trauma Treatment, Rothschild skilfully describes what is happening in the nervous system during various arousal and mental states. In addition, the article comes with a comprehensive chart of nervous system activity and how this relates to the symptoms we would commonly see in the therapy room. I’m sure you will find this resource incredibly useful when learning to identify different states of the nervous system and how to use those cues to regulate your client and yourself.
I do hope you find these two important articles both helpful and inspirational.
The Neurobiology of Feeling Safe
Stephen Porges talks about his scientific journey that brought him to the polyvagal theory and why the feeling of safety is so important from a neurobiological and psychological perspective.
Precision ANS Regulation: What to Look For
Babette Rothschild presents us with a very practical tool for monitoring the autonomic nervous system responses of our clients and ourselves. With a wealth of experience and a keen understanding of the nervous system, Babette provides a compelling argument as to why we need to be aware of what is happening in our clients peripheral nervous system.
- Applied NPT