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Transforming Trauma

91 EpisodesProduced by The NARM Training InstituteWebsite

Transforming Trauma is a podcast about individuals and communities thriving after Complex Trauma. In a modern world beset by trauma and a legacy of suffering, conflict and disconnection, healing trauma can serve as a vehicle for personal and social transformation. Listeners will be introduced to th… read more


The Rhythm of Regulation: Exploring the Polyvagal Theory with Deb Dana

Deb Dana, LCSW, is a founding member of the Polyvagal Institute and Coordinator of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium at the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University.  Deb shares with our host, Sarah, about her work with the Polyvagal Theory, a clinical theory developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, and how she has translated the theory into clinical application, including everyday application.

Deb describes the Polyvagal framework that views the nervous system as a common denominator of human experience, and shares, “It’s my belief we should all learn how to operate our nervous systems in some way.”

Deb breaks down the Polyvagal Theory for listeners and shares three organizing principles: hierarchy, neuroception, and co-regulation.  Deb talks further about how different life experiences, including developmental trauma, result in nervous systems moving in and out of regulation and dysregulation in different ways. Deb says, “It’s not so much what happened to you, it’s how your nervous system responds to what happens to you.” This understanding is aligned with the  NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM) and highlights how different people experience and adapt to the same traumatic experience in different ways. 

Deb describes a “safety-danger equation” that people unconsciously calculate in order to determine what feels safe for them at any given moment. Sarah shares how this orientation aligns with what is referred to in NARM as Adaptive Survival Styles, the ways that children learn to adapt to developmental trauma and which gets carried into adulthood as filters for viewing Self, others and one’s life. 

Deb and Sarah both emphasize the importance of curiosity and being able to sit with the unknown, and how that leads to a greater awareness of our nervous system states. In NARM, the process of inquiry invites curiosity and compassion for the clients’ experience and nervous system states, which supports what in NARM is called an “Embodied Adult Consciousness”.

The conversation concludes with Deb and Sarah sharing the powerful outcomes of having more awareness of our nervous system states, more curiosity, and more compassion for ourselves. 

About Deb:

Deb Dana, LCSW, is a clinician and consultant specializing in working with complex trauma and Coordinator of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium at the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University. She developed the Rhythm of Regulation clinical training series and lectures internationally on ways in which polyvagal theory informs work with trauma survivors.

Connect with Deb: 

Deb Dana offers trainings, podcasts, interviews on her website and on the Polyvagal Institute website  

To read the full show notes and discover more resources visit


NARM Training Institute

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The NARM Training Institute provides tools for transforming complex trauma through: in-person and online trainings for mental health care professionals; in-person and online workshops on complex trauma and how it interplays with areas like addiction, parenting, and cultural trauma; an online self-paced learning program, the NARM Inner Circle; and other trauma-informed learning resources.  

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