Polyvagal Principals for Clinicians: Applications for Safety, Attachment, Trauma, and Anxiety - Debra Alvis





13 July 2022 Live & On Demand


UK: 16:30 – 23:30
North America: 11:30 – 18:30 EST / 8:30 – 15:30 PST

CPD & CE credits available: 6


TRAINING information

This online training is streaming live on the 13th July 2022.

The digital recording will be released to all participants on the 15th July. The recording and associated resources will then be accessible through your Essential Therapy Training account for 365 days.


Many of our clients struggle to find and maintain the safety needed to face the risks and the wonder inherent in living.

The Polyvagal Theory has been termed the science of safety. This safety allows us to regulate our emotions, process our trauma memories, and engage with others successfully.

This work gives us a psychological and physiological understanding of our shifts through mobilization, disconnection, and engagement. Dr. Stephen Porges’ evidenced perspective shapes new approaches to trauma treatment, relational concerns, and mood disorders.

Your presenter, Dr. Debra Alvis, will give you the science and theory in easy-to-understand language…and in an applied manner. End the day knowing how to map the autonomic response and how to repattern the autonomic nervous system for safety.

Experiential exercises and worksheets provided in the live webcast will guide you in the application of polyvagal knowledge to clinical work.

Join Debra for this exciting day of theory, research, and application. A well-seasoned and national presenter, she brings an extensive background in neuroscience, the experience of a twenty-five-year clinical practice, and a love of whole-person treatment approaches to the seminar.

Enjoy anecdotes, take in clinical scenarios designed to clarify application principles, and practice interventions with Debra’s expert guidance. Return to your practice with:

  • New, evidence-based approaches to replace clients’ maladaptive protective patterns
  • Ways to enhance your clients’ capacity to connect to the self and others
  • A transformational understanding of the autonomic nervous system to promote healing from trauma wounds

Learning Objectives

  • 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 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.


Polyvagal-based Contemplative Practices to Restore & Build Nervous System Resiliency (45 minutes)

  • Gentle movements to tone the vagal nerve
  • Body scans to build nervous system awareness
  • Meditation to create vagal system states acceptance
  • Sounds to stimulate safety and connection
  • Mindful inquiry to enhance client motivation

The Polyvagal Theory and How it Drives Behaviors (45 minutes)

  • 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 (30 minutes)

  • Recognize how environments trigger physiological states
  • Identify adaptive physiological reactions and maladaptive behaviors
  • Build greater nervous systems flexibility:
    • Play as a neural exercise
    • Listening as a neural exercise
    • Attending to visceral feelings and social cues

Morning Break – 15 minutes

Strengthen Self-Regulation Skills (45 minutes)

  • 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 (45 minutes)

  • 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
    • Savor moments and states
  • Repair attachment to self & others:
    • Belongingness treasures
    • Explore the face/heart connection

Lunch – 

Negotiate Trauma Treatment – Explore Abuse and Neglect Responses (1 hour)

  • Name defense strategies of fight, flight, and immobilization
  • Highlight adaptive functions of immobilization, fight, & flight
  • Label defense reaction behaviors
  • Repattern social withdrawal & shutdown responses

Recognize Autonomic States & Strengthen Resiliency Through Contemplative Practice (30 minutes)

  • How contemplative practices enhance nervous system responses
  • The five senses & the polyvagal system
  • Build present moment & witnessing skills
    • Autonomic meditations
    • Titrate movement into stillness
    • Tone the vagal nerve with breath & imagery

Expedite Recovery, Increase Well-Being – The Polyvagal Therapeutic Container (30 minutes)

  • 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 (30 minutes)

  • 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

About the Speaker

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 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. Her credentials include certification as a yoga therapist and as a mindfulness teacher trained by Jon Kabat Zinn. A thirty-five-year personal contemplative practice, research experience, and a deep understanding of applied neuroscience, Polyvagal Theory, and 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.


CPD & CE credits available: 6

How do I receive these credits?

The participant must pass the multiple-choice test with a minimum score of 80%. There is a maximum of three attempts to achieve this.

The post-test is included in the price of the training.

Does my regulatory body accept the credits?

The CPD & CE credits awarded can be used towards your declaration to any governing regulatory body in your state or country, provided the content is relevant to your discipline.

Our trainings are accredited by:

– The CPD Group, London
– Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association
– Australian Counselling Association

Ready to Book?

Polyvagal Principals for Clinicians: Applications for Safety, Attachment, Trauma, and Anxiety - Debra Alvis

13 July 2022 Live & On Demand

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