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Mar 30, 2021

In today’s episode, I’m joined by Stephen Porges, and we’ll be talking about how to create safety with reciprocal cues within a relationship from a polyvagal perspective. Polyvagal theory helps us understand how our nervous systems operate and how we can support our ability to be more present and open with another.

Stephen encourages us to consider how we typically view various aspects of relationship: the ways we experience attraction and bonding and our sense of love and long-term relationship. Through these understandings, we can improve our relationship by developing more connection, security and safety within our bonds.

Listen in to learn how our mammalian vagal pathway is linked to our facial expressions, how past trauma can affect your physical state from a polyvagal perspective, and why we need to respect and honor our feelings and bodies.

(Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories, and examples.)


Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium in the Kinsey Institute. He is the originator of the Polyvagal Theory, that emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral, mental, and health problems related to traumatic experiences. He is the creator of a music-based intervention, the Safe and Sound Protocol™ , currently used by more than 1500 therapists to improve spontaneous social engagement, to reduce hearing sensitivities, and to improve language processing.

In this episode, Dr. Stephen Porges and Dr. Jessica Higgins discuss: 

  • How the polyvagal theory relates to the couple experience
  • How our physiological state impacts our relationships with other people
  • What coregulation is and how it influences our interactions
  • Why the physiological state we are in can bias our decision-making
  • The important difference between being welcomed versus experiencing a reaction from another
  • What is happening for people when they shut down and disassociate 
  • How gut problems can occur when our nervous system is shut down or in the dorsal response
  • Why trauma-based behavior often results in a state of becoming disembodied
  • The importance of social systems and how they may or may not support our nervous system and functioning
  • The initial stages of romance from a polyvagal perspective
  • The relationship between vulnerability and sitting still with people who have experienced trauma
  • How we can misunderstand the physiological state of someone’s facial expression and voice
  • How our interactions and relationships affect our health
  • Two major components of creating a stable, healthy relationship




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Twitter: @DrJessHiggins 



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