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The Neurophysiology of Trauma, Attachment, Self-Regulation & Emotions: Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory

  • Are the trauma, attachment and self-regulation interventions you use based on an outdated understanding of the neurophysiology?
  • Is your treatment model rooted in an understanding of client arousal based on traditional maeasures without incorporating concepts from the Polyvagal Theory?
  • During therapy sessions, are you aware that you and your client are responding to each other’s physiological state?
  • Are your interactions with your clients missing an understanding of how mental processes influence physiology and how physiology influences cognitive, emotional, and social behavior?

If you aren’t consciously monitoring your client’s facial features and vocal intonation, you could be missing important cues of the social engagement system and therapeutic opportunities.

Dr. Stephen Porges is an recognized professional on the neurophysiology of emotions, trauma, attachment and self regulation. He will show you how you can put this understanding to use when implementing interventions for mediating symptoms of many mental health disorders including autism, depression, ADD and PTSD. In addition, learn strategies to trigger states of safety in your clients by activating the “highest level” mechanism.


Product Details
Average Rating:
Stephen Porges
5 Hours 58 Minutes
08 Apr, 2016
PESI, Inc.
Product Code:
Media Type:
DVD - Also available: Digital Recordings



This online program is worth 6.25 hours CPD.



Stephen Porges's Profile

Stephen Porges Related seminars and products: 13

Ph.D., Professor

Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

Stephen W. Porges, PhD, is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium within the Kinsey Institute.  He holds the position of Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. 

He served as president of both the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences and is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award.  He has published more than 300 peer reviewed scientific papers across several 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 is the author of The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation (Norton, 2011), The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe, (Norton, 2017) and co-editor of Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies (Norton, 2018).

He is the creator of a music-based intervention, the Safe and Sound Protocol™, which currently is used by more than 1000 therapists to improve spontaneous social engagement, to reduce hearing sensitivities, and to improve language processing, state regulation, and spontaneous social engagement.

Speaker Disclosure:

Financial: Stephen Porges is a Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina. He receives royalties as an author for W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. He receives a licensing fee from Integrated Listening System for his patented technology that is embedded in the Safe and Sound Protocol ™ that uses acoustic stimulation to enhance social engagement behaviors and enhance vagal regulation. Dr. Porges receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Stephen Porges has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.


  1. Articulate the foundation of Polyvagal Theory as it relates to clinical treatment.
  2. Communicate how the Polyvagal Theory may demystify several features related to psychiatric disorders and behavioral problems in clients.
  3. Evaluate how deficits in the regulation of the “Social Engagement System” are expressed as core features of several psychiatric disorders as it relates to case conceptualization.
  4. Reconstruct how the neural process, neuroception, evaluates risk in the environment and triggers adaptive neural circuits, which promote either social interactions or defensive behaviors in clients.
  5. Characterize how therapeutic presence is based on the interaction between the “Social Engagement Systems” of client and therapist.
  6. Analyze the efficacy the “Social Engagement System” in optimizing therapeutic outcome in clients.
  7. Breakdown the features of the “Social Engagement System” as it relates to clinical practice.


The Polyvagal Theory
  • The principles and features of the Polyvagal Theory and how to apply it in a clinical setting
  • How the Polyvagal Theory can demystify several features related to stress-related illnesses and psychiatric disorders such as PTSD, autism, depression, and anxiety
  • How the Social Engagement System is compromised by stress and trauma and how to reset it
  • Evolutionary changes and adaptive functions in the autonomic nervous system
  • Humans response hierarchy to challenges
  • Three neural platforms that provide the neurophysiological bases for social engagement, fight/flight, and shutdown behaviors
Social Engagement System and Psychiatric and Behavioral Disorders
  • A description of the “face-heart” connection that forms a functional social engagement system
  • How our facial expressions, vocalizations, and gestures are regulated by neural mechanisms that are involved in regulating our autonomic nervous system
Neuroception: Detecting and Evaluating Risk
  • How our social and physical environment triggers changes in physiological state
  • Understanding that adaptive physiological reactions may result in maladaptive behaviors
  • Immobilization without fear
  • Play as a neural exercise
  • Listening as a neural exercise
Demystifying Biobehavioral Responses to Trauma and Abuse
  • Fight/flight and immobilization defense strategies
  • Adaptive function of immobilization and the associated clinical difficulties
  • How the stresses and challenges of life distort social awareness and displace spontaneous social engagement behaviors with defensive reactions
Applying the Polyvagal Theory in Clinical Settings
  • Understanding auditory hypersensitivities
  • State regulation as a core feature of psychiatric disorders
  • Deconstructing features of autism and PTSD
  • Strategies to explain disruption and repair of symbiotic regulation
  • Identifying social cues that disrupt or repair defensive reaction

Target Audience

Counselors, Social Workers, Psychologists, Case Managers, Addiction Counselors, Therapists, Marriage & Family Therapists, Nurses, Other Mental Health Professionals



Overall:      4.7

Total Reviews: 357


Stuart M - Edinburgh, Midlothian

"I had already read some of Porges work and used the theory in my practice, but this added depth and scope."

Roxanne M - VERO BEACH, Florida

"Thank you very much Dr. Porges. Your work is priceless and I will continue to read and advance my understanding of your theory. All I have begun to understand will greatly improve my therapeutic work and has given me great insight regarding interaction with my clients. I am very energized as what I now know will initiate greater healing of individuals that come to me. How fun is that!!! Roxanne L Miller"

Clare R - Morningside, QLD

"Excellent service - thank you!!"

Deirdre C - Leesburg, Virginia

"Wonderful! Easy to understand even though topic was challenging"

Elizabeth N - HASLETT, Michigan

"This was the first CE course I took through PESI. I was very impressed with your organization and all of the encounters with staff, technology, web interface. Very professional and friendly. Great job. Thanks!"

Amanda K - MCHENRY, Illinois

"By far one of the best seminar I have attended. The presenter connected with the audience and was inspiring. VERY WELL DONE. Thank you for everything you have done to contribute to our field."

Amarilis L - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

"Excellent presentation "

Sally K - Winterville, Georgia

"polyvagal theory validates my years of clinical intuition. many thanks"

Lynn W - ANNAPOLIS, Maryland

"Outstanding and astounding information. Porges is a stunning presenter."

Kathleen S - SILVER SPRING, Maryland

"Very interesting material that strongly pertains to what makes a successful therapist and therapy experience"

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