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Courses

NeuroAffective Touch®: A Somatic Toolkit for Healing Emotional & Relational Trauma

  • MindBody Studies
  • By Aline LaPierre
  • On Demand

About the Course

When our psychological identity is built on the shaky foundation of an early traumatized physiology, an integrated psychobiological approach to healing is necessary. This course highlights the primary role of the body and emphasizes its equal importance to the mind. It builds a vital bridge between our verbal and nonverbal selves in order to address early emotional and relational trauma.

NeuroAffective Touch®is a polyvagal-informed psychobiological approach designed for body-mind integration. The modules draw upon the key elements of developmental theory, relational psychotherapy, somatic psychology, neuroscience, and bodywork to address emotional, relational, cognitive, and developmental deficits that cannot be reached by verbal means alone.

This course aims to help you deepen your embodied presence by encouraging your personal psychobiological exploration. It is a great opportunity to discover your body in new ways. You will explore how to connect with your interoceptive awareness, apply attuned self-touch as a tool for self-regulation, and develop collaborative body-mind dialogues to enhance your internal connection with self.

Lastly, clinical work that integrates cognitive and somatic approaches—psychotherapy and body-centered work—must address legal, ethical, and scope of practice issues. This includes exploring fears around body-centered approaches, taking a touch history, and evaluating a person’s readiness to go beyond traditional talk therapy or bodywork.

Babies do not start laying down explicit memories until they are two to three years old, when the hippocampus—the brain structure critical to explicit memory storage—begins to mature. Before that—and continuing throughout life—we encode memories implicitly through our senses and feelings. Consequently, we cannot explore our earliest development without connecting with our implicit preverbal self, and we cannot recall the interactions that shaped us only through thoughts and words. Healing early trauma begins with offering the missing nonverbal experiences of body-centered support, attuned touch, and safety―a secure bottom-up foundation based in embodied trust from which a new top-down narrative can emerge. We begin by addressing the three essential self-states necessary for secure attachment and emotional well-being: (1) I exist; (2) I am loved; (3) My needs are important. We will look at how to engage a present-day collaborative mind-body relationship to support reconnection with the disruptions in the developmental matrix.
In this module, we enter the domain of the polyvagal dorsal system, the portal into the interoceptive and neuroceptive core of the bodily self. We explore the internal sensory system and touchpoints for the heart and lungs, the enteric nervous system, and the throat and vocal cords. Emotional and relational shocks to the heart disrupt the early attachment process and adult capacity for relationship. Toxic environments that cannot be metabolized reverberate as distress waves in the soft tissues of the enteric nervous system. Truths that cannot be spoken lock in fear-based states of isolation. We will connect with the heart as the central emotional energy center and invite a collaborative dialogue between the organic realm of the body’s lived experience and the mind’s analytic attunement.
Emotional neglect is generally grouped together with abuse. As a result, the developmental deficits of adults neglected as children are not well understood and often met with professional misattunement. Emotional neglect causes suffering that all too often goes unrecognized, adding yet more layers of internal despair to individuals who have internalized ever-present invisibility. Neglect is absence. Adults emotionally ignored as children don’t understand what is wrong with them. They lack words to express their inner experience, are not aware of their needs, feel defective, and are flooded with shame. While traditional therapy is conflict-oriented, when it comes to neglect, absence of resource rather than presence of conflict is the issue. Rather than struggle with conflicts, ignored individuals experience a lack of interoceptive awareness and missing social skills. Healing neglect requires a resource orientation to acquire the missing pieces needed for a meaningful life.
This module explores how we process sensory information. Facial expressions, the openness of our gaze, the listening capacity of our ears, the prosody of our voice, and the bracing at our cranial base all convey information about our relational state, yet they rarely receive direct gentle transformative attention. To the degree that we disengage from our senses, we lose touch with reality and the capacity for interpersonal connection. Addressing sensory vigilance or collapse supports resetting the social engagement system. Stopping the ears from listening for danger and the eyes from looking for threat involves interrupting the brain’s predictive mechanism in order to maintain a clear time-line awareness, an important key to healing.

Students who take this course will:

  • Recognize the subtle yet powerful indicators of the emerging self as they are revealed in sensation, imagery, posture, and gesture.
  • Engage in collaborative mind-body dialogues that support reconnection with the disrupted developmental matrix. 
  • Apply NeuroAffective Touch® protocols to address developmental deficitslearn to create a Nurture Surround™, support the cranial base, brainstem, and spine.
  • Interrupt the brain’s predictive mechanism to maintain a somatic time-line awareness.
  • Experience the internal sensory systems of interoception and neuroception and the touchpoints for the heart, lungs, enteric nervous system, and throat that are their bodily base.
  • Explore the Social Engagement System through the neuropsychological convergence of the ears, eyes, jaw, cranial base, and throat.
  • Work with early development without creating dependency.
  • Apply attuned self-touch as a tool for self-regulation.

About Aline LaPierre

Dr. Aline LaPierre is a pioneer in the field of somatic psychology. She is the creator of NeuroAffective Touch® an approach integrating the therapeutic use of touch, nonverbal communication, and somatic psychotherapy. She is the founding director of the NeuroAffective Touch Institute, offering mental health and body-centered practitioners training in the vital use of touch when working with developmental, relational, and emotional trauma. Dr. LaPierre is the co-author of Healing Developmental Trauma: How Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship, now available in twelve languages. She was faculty in the Somatic Doctoral Program at Santa Barbara Graduate Institute for ten years and is currently Deputy Editor of The International Body Psychotherapy Journal, a peer-reviewed journal bringing together a global somatic community of psychologists, psychotherapist, body-centered practitioners, researchers, and students. A graduate of Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, and of The New Center for Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles, Aline has trained in many body-centered modalities including BodyMind Centering, Continuum, EMDR, Neuromuscular Therapy, and Visceral Manipulation. Her website is www.NeuroAffectiveTouch.com. She can be reached at aline@neuroaffectivetouch.com.

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  • Access to this course, plus…
  • Member Only Content
    Unlimited access to premium articles, special podcast series, and other member only content.
  • EPTV Streaming Video Service
    Access to EPTV Original Series and our video library of over 250+ hours of lectures, talks and workshops.
  • Wisdom School Courses
    Access to 60+ on-demand courses plus two new courses every month.