VIDEO: The Building Blocks of Healthy Relationships

Stephen Porges Explains What Connection Actually Looks Like

Stephen Porges

What does a healthy or unhealthy attachment history look like, and how can you spot it when you're in session with a client? Therapist and author Stephen Porges, originator of the Polyvagal Theory, is an expert on the matter.

Below, in a clip from Porges's Networker Symposium address, "The Science of Therapeutic Attachment," he gives the answer, and explains how social engagement and social bonding—"the building blocks of healthy relationships," he says—can stave off conditions like anxiety and depression.

Stephen Porges, PhD is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, where he’s creating a trauma research center within the Kinsey Institute. He’s author of The Polyvagal Theory.

If your clients are hyperactive or prone to outbursts, Porges says, the problem may lie in an attachment trauma.

"Very little attention is given to [trauma victims]," Stephen says. "People are more interested in the legal aspects of rape and abuse and less interested in helping and listening to those who've experienced these traumatic events," he adds. "We've become a society that doesn't respect responses."

Knowing how to spot these responses in therapy, Porges says, could make all the difference in helping your clients heal.


Check out our blogs on Attachment Theory and brain science, and let us know what you think in the comments section below!

The most popular magazine in the field!
Don't miss out on clinical insight and creative inspiration from the field's innovators.

Topic: Attachment Theory | Brain Science & Psychotherapy | Couples

Tags: attachment | attachment disorder | body | body language | bonding | bonds | brain | brain research | Networker Symposium | Stephen Porges | Symposium

Comments - (existing users please login first)
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Wednesday, May 3, 2017 10:12:59 PM | posted by Duong
Healthy relationship is always hard to balance for a long time. Thank you for the video in the article.

Sunday, April 23, 2017 9:30:41 AM | posted by Steph
The importance of eye contact is especially relevant in all interactions, past and present. I feel increasingly in competition on a daily basis for this connection, given all the fast paced dashing around and screen time devices that people are obsessed with looking at vs direct, meaningful face to face communication. That lack of direct attention is traumatizing.

Sunday, April 23, 2017 2:39:50 AM | posted by Wendy Fielding
Worried about the emphasis on baby not returning gaze to mother. Have worked with many mothers who have been unable to return baby's attempts to search for mothers face with their eyes . In therapy these children have not experienced that loving reflection of themselves in their mothers eyes affecting their sense of self with various resulting pathologies. As regards ADHD in many of these families there is an inability in the parents to excercise any parental control. As with everything there is a danger in making generalisations, as, for example, are also many very loving parents of autistic children, and each case needs to be understood individually, unlike present trend to fit every child into a label which mitigates against thinking and understanding. Stephen Porges work has been groundbreaking, greatly appreciated, especially with trauma patients., thank you

Sunday, October 16, 2016 5:34:22 PM | posted by Marcia
Enjoyed the information. Please have Mr. Porges speak louder or fix his mic as it is often hard to hear his videos. This is not the first one that was hard to hear and his information is crucial for understanding and not add to frustration in the auditory processing. thanks. Sorry to complain but I really enjoy his information but the sound needs a lot of work.

Sunday, October 16, 2016 4:15:46 PM | posted by Marcia
This truth is the main issue that has jeopardize clients for years where no one listens to the traumas. They expect a person to overcome the fear without injecting time into the work. I have worked for years with trauma victims and know this is true first hand. We need to allow clients to process the trauma until the issue is no longer part of the FFF and experienced as such. The insurance companies are getting smarter thank goodness and no longer seeking solution focused work on these longterm traumas based issues. Attachment and development stages I discovered in early academics. It was clear to me then that this was my avenue of work. My sadness was that short-term solution focused became an avenue to just put a bandaid on the client healing. I was so happy to see Porges and Seigel work on neuroscience. Levine and Hanson have also been helpful clinicians to help promote this solid healing finally. I thank all of you for your work and validation in my long career. My clients are gratified in their healing as they grow more and more exposed to attachment and neuroscience. My Rogerian beginnings, attachment and development education allowed the listening skills to work in their best interests. Thanks for your work.

Saturday, August 13, 2016 5:18:53 PM | posted by Amita
Thank you Stehpen! Very curious if you (or anyone) has info about how influx of botox and plastic surgery effects the ocular interactions with women and their kids and partners.

Monday, August 1, 2016 6:29:55 PM | posted by Barbara
Loved watching this and keen to watch some more. Stephen Porges changed the therapeutic world with his polyvagal theory and the freeze state. Thank you! Loved the immages.

Saturday, July 30, 2016 1:25:37 PM | posted by Gloria Arenson
I would like to hear feedback about clients who were separated from the mother at birth due to premature birth, or Caesarian and not given to the mother to hold or nurture. I have counseled twins or people who were preemies who were put in incubators for days or weeks and as adults have lots of problems in love relationships