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How I Came to Rethink Children’s Challenging Behaviors

Doing Away with the Blame Game

Mona Delahooke

By Mona Delahooke - What’s at the root of children’s aggressive, defiant, and oppositional acts? And how can we better help the children who exhibit these behaviors? Polyvagal Theory shows that the drive to avoid threat and secure safety is what guides human behavior. As such, what we often label as “bad” behaviors are actually fight-or-flight behaviors.

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VIDEO: What Therapists Need to Know About Polyvagal Theory

...And How to Use Touch in Therapy

Deb Dana

Using touch in therapy can have a huge impact on your clients' healing processes. Here, therapist Deb Dana explains the science behind the power of touch in sessions and what types of touch elicit which emotional responses.

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A Polyvagal Primer

A Three-Part Exercise That Taps Into the Nervous System to Create Safety and Trust

Deb Dana

By Deb Dana - The three elements of our autonomic nervous system—ventral, sympathetic, and dorsal—act as our largely subconscious surveillance system, working in the background to read subtle signals of safety or threat. That’s why I help clients create a clear map of their own autonomic nervous systems, so they become aware of their patterns of response to ease and distress.

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Sleepless in America

Making it Through the Night in a Wired World

Mary Sykes Wylie

Insomnia. Almost everybody has it at one time or another. Some poor souls live (or barely live) with it. It's hard to know exactly how widespread it is—prevalence rates are all over the map. As many as 30 percent of the population, or as few as 9 percent (depending on the source of the statistic, or how insomnia is defined, or what impact it has), suffer from some form of it at least some of the time. What's undisputed, however, is that sleep is as necessary to physical and mental health as air and water, and that, without it, we suffer—often severely. So, those annoying world-beaters, who brag about needing only four hours of sleep a night (the better to forge multimillion-dollar start-ups and do their Nobel Prize–winning research) are perhaps not being entirely candid.

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Applying the Brakes

In Trauma Treatment, Safety is Essential

Babette Rothschild

My approach to trauma work is rooted in an experience I had in college. A friend asked me to teach her to drive--in a new car my father had just given me. Sitting in the passenger seat next to her as she prepared to turn on the ignition, I suddenly panicked. I quickly realized that before I taught her how to make that powerful machine go, I had to make sure that she knew how to put on the brakes. I apply the same principle to therapy, especially trauma therapy. I never help clients call forth traumatic memories unless I and my clients are confident that the flow of their anxiety, emotion, memories, and body sensations can be contained at will.

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The Polyvagal Circuit in the Consulting Room

An Interview with Stephen Porges

Ryan Howes

As we all learned in school, we have two options in the face of perceived danger: fight or flight. But that was before neuroscientist Stephen Porges undertook his research into the relationship between human physiology and social engagement.

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Rethinking the Autonomic Nervous System

Stephen Porges on a Popular Neuroscientific Misconception

Rich Simon

For decades therapists have been taught that there are two sides of the autonomic nervous system complementing each other. But according to Stephen Porges—developer of the Polyvagal Theory—this teaching is off the mark.

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