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Understand Nervous System Science and employ Social Engagement System to resolve anxiety, depression, feel more present, focused, motivated, secure and more ALIVE!


Polyvagal Therapy

Polyvagal Therapy is a body-aware talk therapy that uses nervous system and neuroscience to help process painful emotions, deactivate fight-or-flight states (anxiety and anger), disarm unnecessary defense mechanisms (maladaptive protective behaviors and reactions) and mindfully choose behaviors aligned with your personal values, goals and highest good.


As a trauma-informed therapy, PT provides a physiological explanation of trauma, triggers and recovery. It recognizes that heighted emotions, including anxiety, rage and emotional flashback, are likely rooted in complex and relational trauma (PTSD). It combines Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy and a skills-building approach for clients to learn how to access CALM by shifting out of perpetual patterns of fight-flight-fawn-freeze states.



DBT specifically focuses on providing therapeutic and social-emotional health skills in four key areas.

  • Mindfulness (Wise Mind) enables individuals to observe current moment by noting the fleeting nature of emotions, which diminishes the power of emotions to direct their actions.

  • Increases distress tolerance, the ability to tolerate negative emotion rather than depressing or reacting to emotions in ways that make things worse (yelling, binging, pleasing, etc.).

  • Emotion regulation strategies give individuals the power to notice, understand and transform intense emotions.

  • Teaches techniques of interpersonal effectiveness, allowing a person to communicate with others in a way that maintains self-respect, clear and strengthens relationships; a core principle is that learning how to ask directly for what you want and need (including needed boundaries) which diminishes resentment and hurt feelings.


  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Mood issues

  • Obsessions and compulsions (OCD)

  • Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)


DBT is used to treat many mental health issues. But as with any type of therapy, benefits are greatest when people commit fully to learning and practicing emotional regulation skills. While studies of DBT have documented improvement within a year of treatment, particularly in controlling self-harmful behavior, patients may require therapy for several years.

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Polyvagal Therapy

Based on an evolutionary, neuropsychological understanding of the vagus nerve’s role in emotion regulation, social connection, and the automatic fear response that triggers reactive, maladaptive protective behaviors.


PT presents three key principles: hierarchy, neuroception, and co-regulation. Hierarchy refers to three nervous system states—ventral vagal, sympathetic, and dorsal vagal—and their activation in a particular order. Ventral vagal helps us feel safe, show up, communicate, and connect with others. Ventral vagal is our 'inner safe home' and the place of safety where we want to be most of the time. Sympathetic is that energy of flight or fight that helps us mobilize to survive in dangerous environments. If we cannot fight (action at) or take flight (action away from), dorsal vagal has us shut down, collapse, or go numb to protect us, which is freeze model (depression).

Deb Dana, therapist and founder of PT, describes the principle of neuroception as our nervous system automatically scanning the environment for cues of danger below our awareness. She states that it listens from the inside of our body, outside in our environment, and between the interaction of two people. Neuroception determines whether we are in states of ventral vagal, sympathetic, or dorsal vagal depending on our environment.

Dana describes co-regulation as “the biological imperative to be connected with others to survive. We hope to meet others who are regulated and welcoming.” The longing to be safely connected with other people persists throughout our lifetime, even when self-regulating.

Dana explains why the polyvagal theory is essential for therapists and clients alike because it’s the vehicle through which we drive through life. Understanding the nervous system allows us to navigate life. The nervous system and sensory cues inform our brain and the resulting thoughts, cognitions and beliefs. It is essential to first comprehend the processes of the nervous system.

The polyvagal theory also explains why some victims do not run away or resist in the presence of abuse or violence. Their nervous systems switch to the dorsal vagal response of numbing or immobilization for survival instead of the sympathetic response of fight or flight. For the trauma survivor, the nervous system has become fixed in the sympathetic or dorsal states without returning to the ventral state. In the application of polyvagal-informed therapy, it is essential for therapists to help clients establish safety by guiding them back to their ventral vagal state.

Stuck in the sympathetic state, individuals with unhealed trauma may carry a story of fear, distrust, dysregulation, and anxiety, while those stuck in the dorsal vagal state may carry one of loneliness, disconnection, and numbness. When survivors heal and reside in the ventral vagal state, they are able to let go of these stories and become more connected and attuned with others.


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