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Application of Polyvagal Principles to Complex Trauma

  • September 09, 2022
  • Via Zoom


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Co-Sponsored by MBPA, SCCPA, SMCPA and CPA

Application of Polyvagal Principles to Complex Trauma

Friday, September 9th @ 2:00 – 5:00 PM, 3CE, Via Zoom Webinar, Presented by Rebecca Bailey, PhD

Course Description

The Polyvagal Theory has become a popular theory applied to treating complex trauma. From an essential perspective, the polyvagal approach highlights the adaptive function of the Autonomic Nervous System and its impact on the physiological state. According to Dr. Stephen Porges’s extensive research on the vagus nerve, behavior is influenced primarily by an innate survival desire which is highly dependent on social relationships and, when adaptive, supports “health, growth, restoration.” Trauma can distort physiological responses resulting in increased distress and the inability to assess life threats accurately. His research has enhanced and reinforced analysis qualitatively and quantitively underscoring the somatic relationship between trauma and trauma processing.

By attending this workshop, practitioners can apply the principles of polyvagal theory to the treatment of trauma. This perspective will demonstrate the importance of developing an assessment of the role of the autonomic nervous system in treating trauma. Additionally, the practitioner can apply the principles when assisting patients in supporting an alternative narrative to victimization.

Dr. Bailey received her doctoral degree from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA. She is a clinical psychologist and forensic psychologist who specializes in complex case scenarios, including high conflict divorce and experiences of extreme trauma. She is a nationally recognized expert in non-familial and familial abductions and the founder and director of Transitioning Families, an innovative and family-based program for therapeutic reunification and reintegration in California and founder of The Polyvagal Equine Institute, a website dedicated to spreading the polyvagal theory and equine horse/human connection.  She is the former director of the Sonoma Police Departments Youth and Family services program and was a therapist educator for programs such as Marin County’s DUI Program. Dr. Bailey is a regular consultant to and referral for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and is a regular consultant to judicial entities. She is an active member of the AFCC and a member of the International Association of the Chiefs of Police.

Dr. Bailey has been a guest and commentator on Anderson Cooper, Good Morning America, Piers Morgan, Erin Burnett, Kyra Phillips, 20/20, Diane Sawyer, and World News Tonight. She is co-author of the book Safe Kids, Smart Parents (Simon & Schuster, 2013). She presents widely throughout the country on a variety of topics, including the premise of creating “Protected Spaces” for survivors of traumatic crimes and the importance of active collaboration among involved systems. Dr. Bailey is an advisor to the Board of Directors for the JAYC Foundation, Inc. and is clinical director for their programs. At Stable Paths (a Transitioning Families model) in Miami, Dr. Bailey will serve as the lead clinical consultant and supervisor of protocol and programs.

Research interests include the development and implementation of Reunification programs for families recovering from abduction, exploitation, High conflict Divorces, and other life transitions such as Military deployment. You can contact Dr. Bailey directly at

Course Objectives

After the webinar, participants will be able to:

  • 1.     Describe and list the three organizing principles of the Polyvagal theory.
  • 2.     Discuss the importance of the emphasis on the ANS, particularly the vagus nerve, in designing treatment.
  • 3.     Identify steps to incorporating polyvagal principles into treatment to reduce distortions and support rapport.
  • 4.     Connect PVT-informed interventions to commonly used modalities of treatment
  • 5.     Differentiate between applying polyvagal informed techniques to trauma from traditional talk therapy.


MBPA Members, Free                         

SCCPA Members, Free

SMCPA Members, Free

Non-Members, $25

Students, Free

CPA is co-sponsoring with MBPA. The California Psychological Association is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. CPA maintains responsibility for this program and its contents.   Important Notice: Those who attend the workshop and complete the CPA evaluation forms will receive 3.0 continuing education credits.  Please note that APA CE rules require that we give credit only to those who attend the entire workshop. Those arriving more than 15 minutes after the start time or leaving before the workshop is completed will not receive CE credits. is designed for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical or psychological care. If you require medical or psychological services, please consult a qualified professional in your area.

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