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Polyvegal Therapy

What is Polyvegal Therapy

by Rebecca Hill

Did you know that you have a nerve that runs from your brain, all the way down your spine and it’s called the Polyvegal Nerve? 
Did you also know that we categorise any given situation neurologically, moments before we actually realise we are experiencing it?

The Polyvegal nerve is responsible for our neuroception, which places us into one of three states:   

  • I’m okay.
  • I’m in danger. 
  • I’m not okay and therefore I’m collapsing.

Once our state has been determined by our Polyvegal nerve and our reaction has begun to unfold, we can often feel deeply uncomfortable and like we’re not coping very well. By learning about this nurological process that we all go through constantly, we can begin to gain more control over the way we perceive situations, the way that we typically respond and then ultimately the quality of our day-to-day functioning. 

Polyvegal therapy is a very structured process:

  • Firstly you’ll learn more about the Polyvegal nerve and the part it plays in your life. 
  • Then you’ll learn about your three states as they are unique to each of us.
  • Then you’ll learn about what influences those states (increases or decreases them). 
  • Then you’ll learn how to improve your control over this otherwise automatic process. 

This is a very structured therapeutic approach, designed to take you through a series of written exercises so that you really understand how your brain/body responds to triggers and how you can increase the amount of control you have over these responses. 

After you have learnt the basics of this process, you will be able to participate in a number of exercises to help you to implement practical changes which will enable you to experience a greater level of control over your day-to-day functioning. 

Although we call all benefit from understanding our Polyvegal nerve, this therapy can be particularly beneficial for clients who have experienced trauma, who struggle to self-regulate or who have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder / Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. 
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