Using Touch to Support
Physiological and Emotional Regulation:
An experiential workshop
Michael Shiffman, PhD, LMFT
August 21, 2021
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Somatically Safe via Zoom
This workshop will introduce therapists to use self-touch with clients to enhance their neurophysiological and neuroaffective regulation. Attachment insults, developmental deficits and implicit memories can be repaired by increasing clients somatic awareness and deconstructing their somatic holding patterns.
The Covid-19 pandemic gives new meaning to our experience of safety and the preponderance of grief and loss. Our neurobiological imperative to connect is compromised by the virus threat. We viewed others as dangerous rather than as sources of community. Now we have entered a period of increased anxiety as we transition to a new set of rules for social engagement. While we may not touch our clients, we can help direct them to increased awareness and regulation through self-touch.
The use of touch in psychotherapy for the repair of early attachment ruptures and trauma resolution is not new. Competent, ethical psychotherapists have used intentional physical contact since the early 1930’s. What is new is that there is current neurobiological data that supports the efficacy for the use of touch for the resolution of pre-verbal relational trauma. Therapists trained in the use of touch enhance their therapeutic relationships.
When a clinician skillfully uses touch they engage a client’s attention inward to their interoceptive experience—chronic bracing and collapse patterns, organ vibrations and energetic sensitivities—and help bring awareness to these internal experiences. The skillful use of touch engages the felt-sense in a dialogue that leads to a felt-self emotional integration. In the repair of the self, which spans all developmental stages, we can directly address dissociated and dysregulated states of fragmentation that interfere with the capacity for self-awareness and self-regulation.
At the end of this workshop participants will be able to:
- Define neurophysiological and neuroaffective regulation;
- Identify somatic holding patterns;
- Assess appropriate somatic interventions;
- Describe a neurophysiological somatic intervention;
- Describe a neuroaffective somatic intervention;
- Explain how implicit memories respond to somatic interventions;
- Explain how implicit memories have explicit somatic symptoms.