Polyvagal theory - strengths and weaknesses

I have found the polyvagal theory clinically useful working with trauma, using tapping/Havening - and at the same time...

...and at the same time I have had reservations to the oversimplification of how we regulate the psychological and physical reactions to trauma.

In my view of the world there is more complexity and grading between social engagement and fight-flight - a major state of increasing defense, culminating in fight-flight when we pass "the amygda-line” as it is expressed sometimes in sports psychology.

Polyvagal is very useful as a starting point for regulating arousal and the term ”neuroception”, for how our trauma responses can be triggered faster than conscious perception seems 100% accurate to me.

In addition, polyvagal theory shows the incompleteness of talk therapy and the often inherent misleadment of the diagnoses in the DSM-V.

I found an article that gives my reflections a voice. I hope to see the path opened by the polyvagal theory and its clinical usefulness explored further.

Distressed individuals seeking therapy spend much of their time living “in their minds.” Psychotherapy is mediated by spoken language, leading many to reductively refer to the process as “talk therapy” and inadvertently neglecting the vital importance of nonverbal aspects of the therapeutic encounter. Potential limitations of conventional psychotherapies include:

  • Overemphasis on cognitive aspects, with reinforcement of helplessness narratives or schemas
  • Risks neglecting the impact on the body
  • Can be unduly prolonged and cost-ineffective
  • Critical incident debriefing in the aftermath of trauma is an extreme form and can be counter-productive (therefore, contra-indicated)

Link to full article >>

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