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Polyvagal Informed therapY

Polyvagal informed therapy is based on Polyvagal theory, originated by Dr. Stephen Porges, which provides a physiological and psychological understanding of how and why people move through a continual cycle of mobilization, disconnection, and social engagement. Based on this theory our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is the foundation upon which our lived experience sits. We come into the world wired to connect. Connection and feeling safe is our birth right. “With our first breath, we embark on a quest to feel safe in our bodies, in our environments, and in our relationships with others. The autonomic nervous system is our personal surveillance system, always on guard, asking the question “Is this safe?” Its goal is to protect us by sensing safety and risk, listening moment by moment to what is happening in and around our bodies and in the connections we have to others”.

As Dr Porges explains this listening happens far below awareness and far away from our conscious control. Understanding that this is not awareness that comes with perception, Dr. Porges coined the term neuroception to describe the way our autonomic nervous system scans for cues of safety, danger, and life threat without involving the thinking parts of our brain. Neuroception is detection without awareness. It’s automatic and it’s been shaped based on our early life experiences. Because we humans are meaning-making beings, the wordless experiencing of neuroception drives the creation of a story that shapes our daily living.

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