Deb Dana, LCSW, is a clinician and consultant specializing in working with complex trauma and is Coordinator of the Kinsey Institute Traumatic Stress Research Consortium. She developed the Rhythm of Regulation Clinical Training Series and lectures internationally on ways in which Polyvagal Theory informs work with trauma survivors. Deb co-edited, with Stephen Porges, Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies, and is the author of The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation.

NJ Social Workers:
Approved for 15 Clinical hours by NJ ASWB.

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Deb Dana

Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Practical Applications for Treating Trauma
July 16-20, 2018

The autonomic nervous system powerfully shapes our experiences of safety and influences our capacity for connection.  Operating outside of conscious awareness, autonomic circuits assess safety and risk and initiate actions to help us navigate the challenges of daily living.  Trauma interrupts the development of autonomic regulation.  When shaped by traumatic experience, the autonomic pathways of connection are replaced with patterns of protection.  Polyvagal Theory, through the organizing principles of hierarchy, neuroception, and co-regulation, has revolutionized our understanding of how this system works.  We now have a guide to the neurophysiological processes of mobilization, collapse, and social engagement and can reliably lead our clients out of adaptive survival responses into the autonomically  regulated state of safety that is necessary for successful treatment. 

A polyvagal approach to therapy begins with helping clients map their autonomic profiles and track their moment to moment movement along the autonomic hierarchy.  With this foundation, the essential clinical questions address how to help clients interrupt habitual response patterns and find safety in a state of engagement.  In polyvagal-informed therapy, the therapist is a co-regulating resource with the responsibility for creating neural exercises that bring the right degree of challenge to shape the autonomic nervous system toward safety and connection.

In this experiential workshop participants will first learn the basics of Polyvagal Theory and then apply the theory to clinical work.  Participants will experiment with multiple ways to map autonomic responses, skills to safely explore patterns of action, disconnection, and engagement, and techniques to build autonomic regulation and resilience.  The workshop will bring Polyvagal Theory into practical application with a roadmap to help clients tune into their autonomic stories, reset their nervous systems, and restore a sense of safety.

The Science of Connection

  • Understanding the organizing principles of Polyvagal Theory
  • The neurophysiology of safety and survival
  • How the nervous system shapes physical and psychological experience  
  • The challenge to "notice and name":  An introduction to autonomic mapping
  • Creating a personal profile map

Patterns of Connection and Protection

  • Neuroception and how it guides us
  • Evolution of the Social Engagement System
  • Sending cues of safety
  • Tracking autonomic state shifts 
  • Identifying Triggers and Glimmers

Navigating Autonomic Pathways

  • Anchoring in the ventral vagal system
  • Recovering from dorsal vagal collapse
  • Safely moving through sympathetic mobilization
  • SIFTing and Savoring
  • Building co-regulating skills

Resetting the Nervous System

  • Regulation through the Social Engagement System  
  • Exercising the vagal brake
  • Autonomic portals of intervention: breath, movement, touch, sound
  • Rupture and repair through the lens of the autonomic nervous system
  • Exploring the autonomic challenges of play and intimacy  

The Power of a Polyvagal Perspective 

  • Nuts and bolts of a Polyvagal informed therapy session: Demonstration and discussion
  • Getting comfortable teaching Polyvagal Theory to clients
  • From micro to macro: Polyvagal Theory across multiple domains
  • How does Polyvagal Theory change the way you practice? The responsibilities of a polyvagal-informed therapist

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We are delighted to welcome Deb Dana in her first appearance at the Institute!

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