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Stress, Safety and Social Connectedness: Post-Pandemic Polyvagal Insights

Stephen Porges on the intimate connection between our social world and our visceral organs, the impact of stress and trauma on physiological state, and why the pandemic has left even the founder of Polyvagal Theory struggling “to feel comfortable in the presence of others”.

How can we help our clients, and our social world, to feel safe again?

Whatever modality we work in, we know that connection is key to our wellbeing: connection between client and therapist, connection with our bodies and our feelings, connection to others and within our communities.

We also know that trauma involves a chronic disruption of connection.

In this free video, Stephen Porges takes our understanding to the next level – or rather the neural level.

As the author of Polyvagal Theory says in his timely presentation, “there is no distinction between the nervous system of our social world and the nervous system of our visceral organs”. Drawing on evolutionary and attachment theory, his insights into the role of the Vagus nerve emphasise the extent to which social communication isn’t just behavioural – it’s physiological.

Why has the pandemic’s “violation of neural expectancy” been more disruptive to our sense of safety than Covid-19 itself?

What are the mechanisms behind the impact social restrictions have had on our capacity to regulate stress?

How has a year in isolation retuned Stephen’s own nervous system – and why is feeling safe again not the equivalent of removing threat?

In this lively and detailed introduction to his transdisciplinary, brain-body approach, Stephen talks us through the implications of Polyvagal Theory for our understanding of trauma and stress responses – and for what really makes any therapeutic intervention accessible.

We learn about the hierarchical organisation of the autonomic nervous system, the process of ‘neuroception’, and the central role of the Vagus Nerve in bringing our Social Engagement System online, helping us to co-regulate and feel safe.

We also gain a new way to think with our clients about a huge range of symptoms that often elude understanding, from selective eating and IBS to sound sensitivities – and hear Steven’s thoughts on the importance of validating ‘immobilisation with fear’ as a trauma response.

Watch the free video below to map the connections between external events, internal physiological and psychological experience – and what needs to be happening in our therapy rooms to support post-pandemic health, growth and restoration.

Watch the full video here


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