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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships

Polyvagal Theory, Oxytocin and the Neurobiology of Love and Trust:

The Therapeutic Use of the Body's Social Engagement System to Promote Feelings of Safety, Connectedness, Intimacy and Recovery

A workshop with Professor Stephen Porges and Professor Sue Carter

Saturday 8 June 2019 - London

In this workshop Porges and Carter will demonstrate the clinical applications of their research into Polyvagal Theory and oxytocin and social behavior. Their scientifically validated advancements in neuroscience offer a new way of considering brain-body medicine. Safety is critical in enabling humans to optimize their potential. The neurophysiological processes associated with feeling safe are a prerequisite not only for optimal mental health and social behavior but are also relevant in the clinical setting. Physiological states that support feeling safe enhance therapeutic opportunities to access both the higher brain structures that enable humans to be creative and generative and the lower brain structures involved in regulating health, growth, and restoration.

The Polyvagal Theory explains how interactions within the therapeutic setting may turn off defenses and promote opportunities to feel safe. The theory provides an innovative model to understand the importance of the client's physiological state in mediating the effectiveness of clinical treatments. Consistent with a Polyvagal perspective, oxytocin and vasopressin dynamically moderate the autonomic nervous system influencing vagal pathways and anti-inflammatory circuits that help explain the adaptive consequences of love, trust, and social behavior for emotional and physical health. Thus, interventions that target the client's capacity to feel safe and use the social engagement system to regulate physiological state can be effective enhancements of treatments of mental health disorders that are dependent on defense systems. The workshop will integrate the Polyvagal Theory with current research on the mammalian neuropeptides of oxytocin and vasopressin, which facilitate social behaviors and trust.


Professor Stephen Porges
Stephen Porges is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Director of the Brain-Body Center in the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago and holds appointments in the Departments of Psychology, BioEngineering, and Anatomy and Cell Biology. In 2012 Porges joined RTI International in North Carolina, while continuing to hold his professorship at Chicago.[1] Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Porges served as Chair of the Department of Human Development and Director of the Institute for Child Study. He is a former President of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and has been President of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, a consortium of societies representing approximately 20,000 biobehavioral scientists. He was a recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He has chaired the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Maternal and Child Health Research Committee and was a visiting scientist in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Laboratory of Comparative Ethology... More >>

Professor Sue Carter
Dr Sue Carter is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Director of the Brain Body Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research program, which has focused on socially monogamous mammals, has described new roles for neuropeptide hormones, including oxytocin and vasopressin. She also is interested in the developmental effects of social experiences and these peptides, which may modulate long-lasting effects of early experience and also social deprivation on the brain and behavior.

She is past president of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society. Dr. Carter has authored over 225 publications, including editorship of five books, the most recent of which is Attachment and Bonding; A New Synthesis (MIT Press, 2006). ... More >>


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Handouts and lunch included
Self-funded: £120 (SOLD OUT)
Self-funded x 2: £200 (SOLD OUT)
Organisationally-funded: £200 (SOLD OUT)
Psychotherapy trainee: £80 (SOLD OUT)

CPD Hours

Certificates of attendance for 6 hours will be provided at the event

6th Floor
Foyles Bookshop
107 Charing Cross Road

09.30 Registration and coffee
10.00 Start
11:15 Coffee
13:00 Lunch
15:00 Tea
17:00 End