Do you want to learn how the Polyvagal Theory relates to our work as occupational therapists? Today we are taking a deep dive into it! The Polyvagal Theory is concerned with our physiological state. It provides us with understanding three neural circuits or physiological states that all stem from the autonomic nervous system (which regulates involuntary physiological processes). The 3 states are:
- Parasympathetic: This state enables social engagement in a safe environment where we can connect, feel safe and focussed. It involves regulation of the muscles involved in vocalisation, listening, facial expression and gestures.
- Sympthetic: This relates to our fight / flight response when we don’t feel safe.
- Shut down – This states refers to a physiological immobilisation due to fear where the body attempts to protect oneself by shutting down.
The Polyvagal Theory helps us to understand the neurobiology of a person so we can build trust, safety and connection. From this theory developed by Dr Stephen Porges we learn that not all behaviour is conscious. Sometimes behaviour is involuntary- fight, flight, freeze. When we can identify this, then we can shift how we relate to another person and how we can provide support through co-regulation so that a person is able to participate in their everyday meaningful occupations. Polyvagal Theory helps us to do what we do well (enable occupational engagement and participation)!
In this episode we are talking with Kelly Beins, a seasoned Occupational Therapist with over 27 years of experience. Kelly believes in evidence-informed interventions and is passionate about combining sensory integration and mental health approaches into an integrative approach to working with children and families. Kelly specializes in Polyvagal Theory, she is an international speaker, has published two children’s books and was named, Autism Parenting Magazine’s “Top OT” for two consecutive years. Kelly is currently consulting with Unite and growing a global mentorship program to make best-practices more accessible for other pediatric sensory OT’s in private practices.
Website: Kelly Beins