TU110: Story Follows State – Investigating Polyvagal Theory with Guest Deb Dana

by | Dec 5, 2019 | Brain Science, Episodes, Guest Interviews, Neuroscience, Polyvagal Theory, Therapy, Trauma | 0 comments

Show Notes

When we have an anchor in ventral, we can then go visit sympathetic and dorsal without being hijacked by it.

In this episode of Therapist Uncensored,

Co-host Sue Marriott explores the intersection of Polyvagal Theory, neuroscience, and attachment with Deb Dana. We will investigate how the mind creates stories from information relayed by the nervous system, and how we can rewrite the script to move toward security.

Meeting Deb Dana

  • Deb Dana is a clinician and consultant who works with trauma
  • She has a training program called the Rhythm of Regulation
  • Goals of this: understand the nervous system and help people become active operators of their own system

Story Follows State

  • The mind narrates what the nervous system knows
  • Therapeutic goal: bringing explicit awareness to implicit processes
  • Neuroception: our nervous system has a response to what is going on in the world and looks to others for cues of safety and danger
  • The brain tries to make sense of what is happening in the body on a physiological level by making up a story
  • Many of us have nervous systems that are shaped by experiences to be wary of connection; this is something that we work on shifting in therapy

The Nervous System and Attachment

  • The nervous system services our survival and sets the stage for attachment
  • We have two survival states:
  1. Sympathetic: mobilized, energetic state- we see red folks here!
  2. Dorsal vagal collapse: immobilized, disconnected state- we see blue folks here!

The Hopefulness in Polyvagal Theory

  • “Experience shapes the nervous system and ongoing experience reshapes the nervous system”
  • When shame reduces, curiosity arises

The Autonomic Ladder

  • It can be helpful to identify where you currently stand on the ladder, as well as track where you are going on the ladder
  • Ladder orientation from top down- ventral vagal (anchored state), sympathetic (activated state), dorsal (collapsed state)

Take Home Tips

  • Use your voice! Intonation before information. We send cues of safety or danger through our tone of voice.
  • Each nervous system is different in how it comes back into repair, and it changes over time.
  • In a ventral state, there is community.
  • If you’re in trouble, go social! (i.e. send a text, make that phone call, reassure yourself)

Who is Deb Dana?

Deb Dana, LCSW is a clinician and consultant specializing in working with complex trauma and is Coordinator of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium in the Kinsey Institute. She developed the Rhythm of Regulation Clinical Training Series and lectures internationally on ways Polyvagal Theory informs work with trauma survivors.  Deb is the author of The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation and co-edited, with Stephen Porges, Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies.



Beginner’s Guide to Polyvagal Theory

Using the Autonomic Ladder to Work with Perfectionism

The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation

Rhythm of Regulation Website

Stephen Porges’s and Deb Dana’s Coauthored Book




Who doesn’t love special offers?

Our advanced course on attachment and neuroscience has been recently released and is now available for a discounted price! While this course is aimed toward clinicians (CE’s available!), all who are interested in deepening security in yourselves and your relationships are welcome to participate. 4 hours of curated content!


We’re on Patreon! 

Join our exclusive community of Therapist Uncensored Neuronerds for as little as $5 a month!

Increase your access, join our community, get discounts on our courses and get exclusive content.

Help us create a ripple of security by supporting us in freely sharing the science of relationships around the globe!

NEURONERDS UNITE! Click here to sign up.



Recent Episodes

Managing Traumatic Stress as it Occurs (Peritraumatic Growth) with Dr. Arielle Schwartz (181)

Managing Traumatic Stress as it Occurs (Peritraumatic Growth) with Dr. Arielle Schwartz (181)

We’ve heard of post-traumatic growth, but what about coping while the trauma is actually happening? Co-host Sue Marriott LCSW CGP and trauma expert Arielle Schwartz, Ph.D. take a deep dive into post-traumatic and peri-traumatic growth. This compassionate conversation is full of excellent resources for enduring when overwhelmed. Learn more about yoga for trauma, somatic therapy and EMDR with these resources. More episodes on modern attachment on neuroscience at www.therapistuncensored.com/episodes

read more
The Science of Trust and Attachment with Dr. Steve Finn (180)

The Science of Trust and Attachment with Dr. Steve Finn (180)

The science of trust is key. Deciding who to trust in today’s world is especially hard – fake news, political polarization and societal strife amplifies our already on guard nervous system. When our trust has been broken, whether early in childhood or in our adult relationships, learning who to trust can prove even more challenging. In today’s episode, Dr. Steve Finn and Dr. Ann Kelley discuss the science behind epistemic trust and why many of us may have broken trust meters. They discuss how trust issues can create a mess in our relationship, whether we are the constant skeptic who resists taking in new information or we tend to trust blindly, without testing or holding healthy doubts. Together they provide deep and compassionate insights into these struggles and how they relate to internal working models. A fan favorite, Dr. Finn returns to bring his years of expertise to our listeners about ways to build curiosity and tools of mentalization, including our ability to handle healthy skepticism. Shownotest at www.therapistuncensored.com/180

read more
From Toxic Individualism to Relational Security with Terry Real (179)

From Toxic Individualism to Relational Security with Terry Real (179)

This episode explores individualistic thinking and will support you doing the tough internal work to give up power in favor of connection. Utilizing neurobiology, years of research, and professional experience, Terry Real and Ann Kelley break down the history of individualism and the toxic patterns it can hold in our society and in our relationships. Episode notes at www.therapistuncensored.com/180.
Gut health impacts mood and brain function – support your gut health with our sponsor, Athletic Greens AG1 at this link www.athleticgreens.com/therapistuncensored

read more

What else do you want to learn today?

Get Your Modern Attachment-Regulation Spectrum (MARS)Bundle

3 videos, 3 handouts, and 7 podcast episodes to get you started on your path toward secure relating.

Success! Please check your inbox to confirm your subscription and access your starter pack.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This