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Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Practical Applications for Treating Trauma

Deb Dana, LCSW

July 22-26, 2024

Monday - Friday: 9:00a.m. - 12:30p.m. EDT | 30-Minute Break Daily

15-Hour Course |  Delivery Format: In-Person or Live-Online

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Course Description

The autonomic nervous system is at the heart of daily living powerfully shaping experiences of safety and influencing the capacity for connection. Operating outside of conscious awareness, autonomic circuits assess safety and initiate actions to help us navigate the challenges of daily living. Polyvagal Theory, through the organizing principles of hierarchy, neuroception, and co-regulation, has revolutionized our understanding of how this system works. We now know that trauma interrupts the development of autonomic regulation and shapes the system away from connection into patterns of protection. With an updated map of the autonomic circuits that underlie behaviors and beliefs, we 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 Theory guided 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. Polyvagal Theory gives therapists a guide to becoming a co-regulating resource and concrete ways to help clients find, and savor, experiences of safety. Working from a foundation of Polyvagal Theory, therapists have practical ways to effectively help clients identify and interrupt their familiar response patterns and strategies to shape their autonomic nervous systems toward safety and connection.


In this experiential workshop participants will first learn the basics of Polyvagal Theory and then work with practices designed to bring the power of Polyvagal Theory directly into clinical work. Working individually and in dyads, 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 safely tune into their autonomic states, reshape their nervous systems, and rewrite the trauma stories that are carried in their autonomic pathways.

Course Agenda (click to expand)

Course Objectives (click to expand)

About the Instructor

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Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Deb Dana has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations. She receives a speaking honorarium from MAK Continuing Education, LLC, Cape Cod Institute.

Non-financial: Deb Dana has no relevant non-financial relationships with ineligible organizations.

Deb Dana, LCSW, specializes in treating complex traumatic stress and lectures internationally on the ways Polyvagal Theory informs clinical interactions with trauma survivors. She is the developer of the Rhythm of Regulation clinical training series and the author of The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation (Norton 2018), Polyvagal Exercises for Safety and Connection (Norton, 2020) and co-editor, with Stephen Porges, of Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies (Norton 2018).

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Deb Dana, LCSW

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What Alumni are Saying...

"Deb is a gifted teacher. She is so skilled at taking complex concepts and making them applicable and real." - 2022 Participant

"This was one of the most valuable clinical trainings I have ever had - both personally and professionally. Deb Dana is not only an expert in her field, but a gifted clinician and an engaging, accessible teacher." - 2023 Participant

"Deb Dana is an incredible human being! What a treat to have spent the week with her. She so beautifully and fully embodies what she teaches. My favorite CE experience so far!" - 2022 Participant

"This was an outstanding training & workshop. It was the most effective use of online technology with super productive break out sessions. I especially appreciated how diligent Deb was about including online participation." - 2023 Participant

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