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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: 5 CEs total, read for more information on CEs
Fee: $100, read for more information on fees and scholarships

Description: This workshop will draw from innovative research on how trauma shapes people’s neurobiological experiences and reactions. Deb Dana will provide a user-friendly understanding of Polyvagal Theory that can be shared with clients on the science of safety and connection. Participants will learn specific practices to anchor themselves in regulation and work with clients’ trauma responses to support experiences of co-regulation that are necessary for successful treatment. The explanations and strategies in this workshop can be incorporated with all trauma-informed therapeutic approaches and will help participants to enhance the therapeutic relationship and the process of healing.


  • Exploring the first two organizing principles of polyvagal theory – Neuroception and hierarchy; Mapping the nervous system
  • Exploring the third organizing principle of Polyvagal Theory – Co-Regulation; Utilizing the social engagement system to create safety in sessions
  • Creating resources for autonomic regulation
  • Integrating a polyvagal approach in practice; Discussion and ending

Learning objectives:

As a result of this training, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify phases of trauma work from a polyvagal theory perspective
  2. Use an understanding of polyvagal theory-informed therapy to create an environment for clients that encourages trust
  3. Apply at least 3 polyvagal-informed processes to help clients move from dysregulation to regulation
  4. Practice with the 5 elements of the social engagement system in clinical practice to help client recover from shutdown
  5. Apply at least 2 tools to help regulate your own autonomic state to create an environment of safety for clients
  6. Assess for patterns in client autonomic states to inform treatment planning

Trainer: Deb Dana, LCSW is a clinician, consultant and author specializing in complex trauma. Her work is focused on using the lens of Polyvagal Theory to understand and resolve the impact of trauma, and creating ways of working that honor the role of the autonomic nervous system. She is a founding member of the Polyvagal Institute, consultant to Khiron Clinics, and advisor to Unyte. Deb is the developer of the signature Rhythm of Regulation Clinical Training Series and is well known for translating Polyvagal Theory into a language and application that is both understandable and accessible for clinicians and curious people alike. Deb’s clinical work published with W.W. Norton includes The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation, Polyvagal Exercises for Safety and Connection: 50 Client Centered Practices, the Polyvagal Flip Chart, and the Polyvagal Card Deck. She partners with Sounds True to bring her polyvagal perspective to a general audience through the audio program Befriending Your Nervous System: Looking Through the Lens of Polyvagal Theory and her print book Anchored: How to Befriend Your Nervous System Using Polyvagal Theory. Deb can be contacted via her website


Bailey, R., Dana, D., Bailey, E., & Davis, F. (2020). The application of the polyvagal theory to high conflict co-parenting cases. Family Court Review, 

Conroy, J & Perryman, K. (2022). Treating trauma with child-centered play therapy through the SECURE lens of polyvagal theory. International Journal of Play Therapy, 31(3), 143-152.

Kolacz, J., Kovacic, K. K., & Porges, S. W. (2019). Traumatic stress and the autonomic brain‐gut connection in development: Polyvagal theory as an integrative framework for psychosocial and gastrointestinal pathology. Developmental Psychobiology, 61(5), 796-809.

Poli, A., Gemignani, A., Soldani, F., & Miccoli, M. (2021). A systematic review of a polyvagal perspective on embodied contemplative practices as promoters of cardiorespiratory coupling and traumatic stress recovery for ptsd and ocd: Research methodologies and state of the art. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(22), 11778.

Porges, S. W. (2018). Chronic diffuse pain and functional gastrointestinal disorders after traumatic stress: Pathophysiology through a polyvagal perspective. Frontiers in Medicine, 5(MAY), 145-145.

Porges, S. W. (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic is a paradoxical challenge to our nervous system: A polyvagal perspective. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 17(2), 135-138.

Porges, S. W. (2022). Polyvagal theory: A science of safety. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 16, 871227-871227.

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