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Format:  Self-paced / asynchronous program
Engage with this recorded program on your schedule.

Online Course Available button with UNC School of Social Work Logo and blue arrowCE: 2 CEs total, read for more information on CEs
Fee: $35, read for more information on fees and scholarships

Description:  Learn more about the neurobiology of trauma and healing from Stephen Porges, whose polyvagal theory links the evolution of the nervous system to social behavior. His groundbreaking theory explains the evolution of the autonomic nervous system that detects safety and threat, and the nuanced ways in which the parasympathetic system balances and calms the sympathetic one. In this program, Dr. Porges will explain why trauma responses, including dissociation, are adaptive, even heroic; and why safety cues, co-regulation, social connection, and embodied approaches are vital to healing. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of what heals trauma and why, and how we can use the systems of the body to change our relationship with stress.

Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Apply at least 2 concepts of polyvagal theory to manage their own emotion regulation and foster safety and connection in therapy with clients 
  2. Name and describe at least 2 concepts from polyvagal theory to explain and validate experience of trauma and immobilization 
  3. Understand the value and importance of physiological states as a mediator to experience and at least 1 way to apply this within trauma treatment  

Stephen PorgesTrainer: Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers across disciplines including anesthesiology, biomedical engineering, critical care medicine, ergonomics, exercise physiology, gerontology, neurology, neuroscience, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, psychometrics, space medicine, and substance abuse. In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders. He has authored and/or edited several books on Polyvagal Theory, and created the Safe and Sound Protocol, a music-based intervention to improve spontaneous social engagement, reduce hearing sensitivities, and improve language processing and state regulation.

  • Bailey, R., Dugard, J., Smith, S. F., & Porges, S. W. (2023). Appeasement: Replacing stockholm syndrome as a definition of a survival strategy. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 14(1), 2161038-2161038.
  • Dana, D. & Porges, S. (Eds.).  (2018). Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies. New York: W.W. Norton. 
  • Gray, A. E. L. (2017). Polyvagal-informed Dance/Movement therapy for trauma: A global perspective. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 39(1), 43-46. 
  • Jokic, B., Puric, D., Grassmann, H., Walling, C. G., Nix, E. J., Porges, S. W., & Kolacz, J. (2023). Association of childhood maltreatment with adult body awareness and autonomic reactivity: The moderating effect of practicing body psychotherapy. Psychotherapy (Chicago, Ill.), 60(2), 159-170.
  • Kolacz, J., Hu, Y., Gesselman, A. N., Garcia, J. R., Lewis, G. F., & Porges, S. W. (2020). Sexual function in adults with a history of childhood maltreatment: Mediating effects of self-reported autonomic reactivity. Psychological trauma: theory, research, practice, and policy, 12(3), 281.
  • Kolacz, J., & Porges, S. W. (2018). Chronic diffuse pain and functional gastrointestinal disorders after traumatic stress: Pathophysiology through a polyvagal perspective. Frontiers in Medicine, 5, 145. 
  • Porges, S. W. (2022). Polyvagal theory: A science of safety. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 16, 871227-871227.
  • Porges, S. W. (2021). Polyvagal theory: A biobehavioral journey to sociality. Comprehensive Psychoneuroendocrinology (Online), 7, 100069-100069.
  • Porges, S. (2017). The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling SafeNew York: W.W. Norton.  
  • Porges, S. W. (2011). The polyvagal theory: Neurophysiological foundations of emotions, attachment, communication, and self-regulation. New York: W.W. Norton. 
  • Sullivan, M. B., Erb, M., Schmalzl, L., Moonaz, S., Taylor, J. N., & Porges, S. W. (2018). Yoga therapy and polyvagal theory: The convergence of traditional wisdom and contemporary neuroscience for self-regulation and resilience. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12, 67-67.

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