SI-1. Group Psychotherapy as a Neural Exercise: A Polyvagal Perspective
Stephen Porges, PhD and
Philip Flores, PhD, ABPP, CGP, LFAGPA
This presentation will describe the Polyvagal Theory and explain how Polyvagal Theory provides a neurobiological framework to understand the processes involved in successful group psychotherapy. Group psychotherapy, conducted and guided by the insights of Polyvagal Theory, can help craft an ideal neural exercise regimen for promoting the biobehavioral adjustments for the regulation of emotions, interpersonal engagement, resilience, health, emotional attunement, and behavioral flexibility. This Special Institute will feature didactic presentations, group demonstration, and discussion regarding how the innovative perspectives of Polyvagal Theory can enhance group work.
The attendee will be able to:
1. Describe the foundation of the Polyvagal Theory.
2. Describe how the Polyvagal Theory explains several features related to psychiatric disorders and behavioral problems.
3. Define the features of the Social Engagement System, which include neural pathways of the vagus system connecting brain, face, and heart.
4. Describe how the regulation of the Social Engagement System is compromised by stress and trauma.
5. Explain how neuroception evaluates risk in the environment and triggers adaptive neural circuits, which promote either social interactions or defensive behaviors.
6. Define the concept of neuroception and the biophysical functions it provides in guiding interventions that promote learning, behavioral change and affect regulation.
7. Define faulty neuroception and explain how it contributes to disrupted interpersonal relationships in group therapy.
8. Explain how the Social Engagement System and neuroception are involved in optimizing therapeutic group outcomes.
9. Describe the meaning of Polyvagal Theory as a neural exercise.
10. Describe how group psychotherapy, conducted and guided by the principles of Polyvagal Theory, can promote the bio-behavioral adjustments necessary for both attachment and affect regulation.
11. Discuss the ways the demonstration group reflects the application of Polyvagal Theory to group.
1. Flores, P.J. (2010). Group Psychotherapy & Neuro-Plasticity: An Attachment Theory Perspective. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 60(4), 546-570.
2. Porges, S.W. (1997). Emotion: An evolutionary by-product of the neural regulation of the autonomic nervous system. In C.S. Carter, B. Kirkpatrick, & I.I. Lederhendler (Eds.), The Integrative Neurobiology of Affiliation. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 807, 62-77.
3. Porges S.W. (1998). Love: An emergent property of the mammalian autonomic nervous system. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 23, 837-861.
4. Porges, S.W. (2003). Social engagement and attachment: A phylogenetic perspective. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1008, 31–47.
5. Porges, S.W. (2011). The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology). New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Dr. Stephen Porges is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, where he directs the Trauma Research Center within the Kinsey Institute. He holds the position of Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He served as president of both the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences and is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He has published more than 250 peer‐reviewed scientific papers across several disciplines including anesthesiology, biomedical engineering, critical care medicine, ergonomics, exercise physiology, gerontology, neurology, neuroscience, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, psychometrics, space medicine, and substance abuse. In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory. The theory provides insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders including autism, anxiety, depression, ADD, PTSD, and schizophrenia. His research has led to the development of innovative interventions designed to stabilize behavioral and psychological states and to stimulate spontaneous social behavior that are being applied to autism and other clinical diagnoses.
Dr. Philip Flores is a Fellow of the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) and is a Diplomate in Group Psychology, a certification issued by the American Board of Professional Psychology. Dr. Flores is also Adjunct Faculty at the Georgia School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University and is supervisor of group psychotherapy at Emory University. In addition to his two books, Group Psychotherapy with Addiction Populations by Haworth Press (3rd Ed.) and Addiction as an Attachment Disorder by Jason Aronson Press, he was also Consensus Panel Chair for Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy, A Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP #41) issued by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Dr. Flores is the lead author on the AGPA’s treatment manual, Group Psychotherapy of Substance Abuse and Addiction. Dr. Flores is co-chair and contributing member of the AGPA’s Science to Service Task Force that produced the Clinical Practice Guidelines for Group Psychotherapy. Dr. Flores’ latest book, Addiction as an Attachment Disorder was the 2005 Gradiva Award Winner issued by the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis.