Boulder Psychotherapy Institute

Advanced Training in Applied Existential Psychotherapy (AEP) — since 1989

An Experiential Psychodynamic Gestalt Approach   •   Boulder, Colorado

Character Structure, Developmental Issues and Shock Trauma

Deborah Bowman, Ph.D.


The NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM): This approach, developed by Dr. Heller over the past 30 years, is a resource-oriented, non-regressive model that emphasizes helping clients establish connection to the parts of Self that are organized, coherent and functional. It helps bring into awareness and organization the parts of Self that are disorganized and dysfunctional without making the regressed, dysfunctional elements the primary theme of the therapy. NARM facilitates subtle shifts in the nervous system that are fundamental to disrupting the predictive tendencies of the brain. It is connection to our body and to other people that brings healing re-regulation. NARM introduces techniques that support increased connection with Self and others that are instrumental in supporting effective re-regulation.

Five Organizing Developmental Themes: 
There are five core resources and associated developmental life themes that are essential to our capacity to be present to Self and others in the here-and-now:

Contact. We feel that we belong in the world. We are in touch with our body and our emotions and capable of consistent connection with others.

Nourishment. We know what we need and we can reach out for and take in the abundance that life offers.

Trust. We have an inherent trust in ourselves and others. We feel safe enough to allow a healthy interdependence with others.

Autonomy. We are able to say no and set limits with others. We speak our mind without guilt or fear.

Love. Our heart is open and we are able to integrate a loving relationship with a vital sexuality.

To the degree that these five capacities are developed, we experience self-regulation and connection. We feel safe and trusting of our environment, and connected to ourselves and others. We experience a sense of regulation and expansion. To the degree that these basic capacities do not mature, we develop survival styles to cope with the resulting disconnection and dysregulation.

The Workshop: This workshop presents a somatic mindful approach to working with trauma that includes attention to personal history by exploring the developmental and attachment issues that impact therapy. The first day will review the core themes of Contact and Autonomy, which Dr. Heller presented in a previous workshop. The second and third days will focus on the core themes of Nourishment, Trust and Love. The workshop will include presentation, videotapes and experiential exercises.

The Workshop Leader: Laurence Heller, Ph.D., Boulder Psychotherapy institute Distinguished Guest Workshop Leader, is an internationally known author and trainer in trauma work. He is the co-author of Crash Course, a book about trauma resulting from automobile accidents. He has been a body-centered psychotherapist for over 30 years. He teaches all over the world for the Foundation for Human Enrichment. He was President and Director of Training for the Gestalt Institute of Denver, where he taught Gestalt and character structure for over thirteen years. Larry is currently located in Los Angeles and returns to Boulder periodically to teach a workshop for us on trauma. Many of us trained with Larry in both Gestalt and trauma work. We are always pleased to welcome him back to the Institute.

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