There are many therapeutic models that include an understanding of the body and physiology and its role in mental health. We can use this understanding to provide the focal points for intervention in talking therapy. In our practice we do not use physical touch in any form during therapy sessions.
Traumatic activation can include any of the aforementioned symptoms as well as physical sensations related to the traumatic event. It is also common for people who have experienced trauma to experience dissociation, which is a feeling of disconnection from their body and emotions. Dissociation can range from ‘zoning out’ or feeling numb or detached, to feeling completely separate from your body or blacking out. Mental and physical health are inextricably linked. There is considerable evidence that traumatic experiences during childhood result in an increased risk of physical illness later in life, and conversely, people with physical health issues are at higher risk of developing a mental health condition.
One of the most interesting approaches that includes an understanding of the body is Stephen Porges’ polyvagal theory. This theory developed from Porges’ experimental work with the vagus nerve. Our previous understanding of the nervous system responses was that it mainly consisted of two opposing parts – the sympathetic fight/flight and the parasympathetic calming part, that is sometimes called freeze/ collapse. Polyvagal theory includes a part to the system- the social engagement system that allows us to connect to others in an energised but calm state.
More information about polyvagal theory can be found here: