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5 Hours 42 Minutes
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Debra Alvis, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and private practitioner with over 25 years of clinical experience in supporting clients’ recovery from shame, trauma, anxiety, depression and relational concerns. A seasoned international presenter and consultant, Dr. Alvis is a therapeutic yoga educator and retired as faculty from the University of Georgia where she developed and led the Mind/Body Program. The program included a clinician training program integrating contemplative approaches in psychotherapy. A thirty-five-year personal contemplative practice, research experience, and a deep understanding of applied neuroscience, Polyvagal Theory, and compassion resiliency further enrich her presentations. She draws upon this unique background to provide effective and easily applicable skills designed for immediate integration into clinician’s practices.
Financial: Debra Alvis is in private practice. Dr. Alvis receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.
Non-financial: Debra Alvis has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.
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- Analyze how the Polyvagal Theory expands therapeutic knowledge and treatment concerning trauma, anxiety, depression, and social engagement disorders.
- Compose everyday language to better explain the Polyvagal Theory, helping clients understand their symptoms and increase their motivation.
- Assess client states of threat, risk, and safety and identify effective polyvagal interventions.
- Integrate therapist co-regulation tools designed to build the client’s self-regulation capacities.
- Apply interventions to enhance self-regulation, support internal calm, increase feelings of safety, and increase social engagement.
- Utilize awareness-based approaches to strengthen resiliency.
- Employ contemplative practices that strengthen the clients’ capacity to shift their nervous system to better manage physiologic responses.
The Polyvagal Theory & How It Drives Behaviors
- The biology of safety and danger
- Evolutionary changes and adaptive functions
- Social engagement, fight/flight, and shutdown
- The human response hierarchy for challenges
- Face-heart connection – the how and why of nervous system regulation
- Gestures, vocalizations, facial expressions
- Polyvagal theory risks and limitations in clinical practice
Building Skills to Assess & Increase Safety
- Recognize how environments trigger physiological states
- Identify adaptive physiological reactions and maladaptive behaviours
- Build greater nervous systems flexibility:
- Play as a neural exercise
- Listening as a neural exercise
- Attending to visceral feelings and social cues
Strengthen Self-Regulation Skills
- Increase autonomic state awareness to strengthen emotional regulation
- Map vagal states with writing, drawing, & mirroring
- Identify social cues that initiate defensive reactions
- Explore the regulation/dysregulation continuum
Establish Disorder-Specific Skills to Address Mood and Attachment
- Recognize & shift characteristic nervous system states for depression, anxiety, and attachment
- Soothe anxiety
- Navigate the sympathetic response
- Escape the tiger!
- Enliven from depression:
- Engage with awe, experience wonder
- Savour moments and states
- Repair attachment to self & others:
- Belongingness treasures
- Explore the face/heart connection
Negotiate Trauma Treatment – Explore Abuse and Neglect Responses
- Name defence strategies of fight, flight, and immobilization
- Highlight adaptive functions of immobilization, fight, & flight
- Label defence reaction behaviours
- Repattern social withdrawal & shutdown responses
Recognize Autonomic States & Strengthen Resiliency Through Contemplative Practice
- How contemplative practices enhance nervous system responses
- The five senses & the polyvagal system
- Build present moment & witnessing skills
- Autonomic meditations
- Gentle movements and interoceptive awareness
- Titrate movement into stillness
- Tone the vagal nerve with breath, sound, & imagery
Expedite Recovery, Increase Well-Being – The Polyvagal Therapeutic Container
- Co-regulate with the client
- Recognize, Reach, Resonate, Regulate
- Conclude the session with a return to social engagement
- Yawn and stretch
- Body calming
- Evoke safety through room & exterior design
Returning to Practice Integrating a Polyvagal Approach
- Establish relational reciprocity & repair skills
- Perfect Nurturer Imagery
- Syncing the breath
- Build relationships with self and others
- Self-compassion practices to fuel empathy
- connection through compassion
- Social Workers
- Case Managers
- Addiction Counselors
- Marriage & Family Therapists
- Other Mental Health Professionals
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