Polyvagal Therapy: What is it, How Does it Work and What are Its Benefits?

Polyvagal Therapy, is based on Polyvagal theory the groundbreaking work of Dr. Stephen Porges. This theory offers a transformative approach to healing that delves into the complex dynamics of our autonomic nervous system (ANS). With increasing interest regarding the link between our nervous system and our overall well-being and mental health, learn more about what it is, how it works, and its benefits.   

What is Polyvagal Therapy?

Polyvagal Therapy is grounded in the Polyvagal Theory, suggests that your ANS is not a single system but instead a network of three distinct branches: the ventral vagal complex (allows you to feel safe and social), the sympathetic nervous system (your fight or flight instincts), and the dorsal vagal complex (which causes shut down). Dr. Porges’s theory emphasizes the role of the vagus nerve in regulating our physiological and emotional responses, particularly in relation to safety and connection.  

How Does Polyvagal Therapy Work?

The heart of Polyvagal Therapy is the understanding that our bodies respond to perceived threats by activating one of these three branches of the ANS. It focuses on fostering a sense of safety and connection, thereby enabling the ventral vagal complex— which allows the deregulation of a defensive reaction. Techniques employed in Polyvagal Therapy include mindfulness practices, breathwork, somatic experiencing, and interventions aimed at enhancing social engagement and relational safety.  

Benefits of Polyvagal Therapy

  • Regulation of the Nervous System: By targeting the ANS, Polyvagal Therapy encourages nervous system regulation, helping individuals achieve a state of calm and equilibrium.
  • Healing Trauma: Traumatic experiences often dysregulate the ANS, leading to symptoms like anxiety, hypervigilance, and dissociation. Polyvagal Therapy offers a path to healing trauma by addressing the underlying nervous system dysregulation.
  • Improved Interpersonal Relationships: Since Polyvagal Therapy emphasizes the importance of social connection, it can enhance interpersonal relationships by promoting feelings of safety, trust, and empathy.
  • Reduced Anxiety and Stress: Through techniques such as breathwork and mindfulness, Polyvagal Therapy equips individuals with tools to manage anxiety and stress more effectively, fostering resilience in the face of adversity.
  • Enhanced Self-Understanding: By attuning to the cues of their own nervous systems, individuals undergoing Polyvagal Therapy develop a deeper understanding of their emotions, sensations, and relational patterns.
Polyvagal Therapy recognizes the link between our physiological states and our emotional well-being. By harnessing the power of the nervous system, this approach offers a holistic pathway to healing, emphasizing safety, connection, and regulation. Learn more about how InkBlot Doc integrates Polyvagal principles into their therapeutic practices for trauma treatment and to build emotional resilience. Book a consult with Shannon Gordy , our Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Psy.D. with expertise in Polyvagal Therapy.

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