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Treating Trauma and Addiction with the Felt Sense Polyvagal Model

  • 10 Sep 2021
  • Online

Trauma and addiction responses are increasing at an epidemic rate. We desperately need a fresh approach. The Felt Sense Polyvagal Model provides a paradigm shift from the traditional disease model to an embodied understanding of trauma and its underbelly, addiction, through the lens of the autonomic nervous system.

Addictions are seen as the bodies’ attempt to emotionally regulate by acting as propellors that facilitate shifts in our nervous system. The model Integrates Gendlin’s Felt Sense process with Porges Polyvagal theory, enabling us to appreciate addictive behaviors as adaptive responses to maladaptive environments. The model provides a generic framework that can be integrated into any therapeutic modality. The webinar includes a description of how to apply the model with clients through participant exercises, case examples and live demonstration.

Presented By:

Jan Winhall M.S.W.

One hour dialogue with Stephen Porges PhD.

Taught as a hybrid of on-demand instruction with live Q&A.

Dates: Pre-recorded on demand webinar

live 90 minute Q&A September 10th 9 AM PST

Main Points

• Introducing the journey in developing the Felt Sense Polyagal Model. Including: Critiquing current top-down ways of treating addiction.

• Describing the evolution of the model, three graphic versions.

• First: Felt Sense Experience: Feminist, Trauma informed model includes description of Gendlin’s Felt Sense and Focusing Oriented Psychotherapy

• Second: Felt Sense Experience Model of Treating Addiction. Description of Siegel’s Interpersonal Neurobiology as it integrated into the model. Attachment as it relates to addiction and trauma.

• Third: The Felt Sense Polyvagal Model to treat Trauma and Addiction. Description of Polyvagal theory as it integrates into the model. Addictions are seen as propellors of neurophysiological state changes in the autonomic nervous system. Introduction of the two graphic versions of the model, client and clinician.

• Application with Clients. Description of the felt sense experience of each state and how to promote healing through neural exercises such as Focusing Oriented Strategies. Use of Three Circle Practice and working in Groups.

• Demonstration of application of the model with client.


Learning Objectives

1. Describe five concepts in polyvagal theory as they apply to trauma informed embodied psychotherapy.

2. Describe the neurophysiological states of the Felt Sense Polyvagal Model for treating addiction and trauma.

3. Explain addictive behaviors through the lens of Polyvagal theory.

4. Apply the Model and Focusing Oriented Strategies in psychotherapy.

5. The Embodied Assessment and Treatment Tool (EATT) and its application with clients.


Dana, D. (2018). The polyvagal theory in therapy. New York, NY & London: W.W. Norton & Co.

Gendlin, E.T.(1996) Focusing Oriented Psychotherapy, New York, Guilford Press.

Gendlin, E. T. (1978/1981). Focusing. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.

Herman, J. (1992). Trauma and recovery. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Haines, S. (2019). The politics of trauma. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Lewis, M. (2015). The biology of desire: Why addiction is not a disease. New York, NY: PublicAffairs.

Maté, G. (2018). In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close encounters with addiction. Toronto, Ont.: Toronto Vintage Canada.

Porges, S. (2011). The polyvagal theory. New York, NY & London: W.W. Norton & Co.

Porges, S. (2017). The pocket guide to the Polyvagal Theory: the transformative power of feeling safe. New York & London: W.W. Norton & Co.

Porges,S. Dana,D. (2018). Clinical Applications of The Polyvagal Theory. Ed. New York & London: W.W. Norton & Co.

Siegel, D. J. (1999). The developing mind: Toward a neurobiology of interpersonal experience. New York, NY & London: The Guilford Press.

Van der Kolk, (2014). The body keeps the score. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Winhall, J. (2014). Understanding and Treating Addiction with the Felt Sense Experience Model. In G. Madison, Ed.) Emerging practice in focusing-oriented psychotherapy. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Winhall,J. (2021). , Treating Addiction with The Felt Sense Polyvagal Model: A Bottom Up Approach

Instructor’s Bio:

Jan Winhall, M.S.W., R.S.W., F.O.T.

Jan Winhall is an author, teacher and psychotherapist. She is an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Social Work, University of Toronto. She is director of Focusing on Borden, a psychotherapy and training center. She is a creator of the Integrative Focusing Therapy training program. Jan presents internationally on trauma and addiction.

Stephen W. Porges, PhD,

Distinguished University Scientist, founding director, Traumatic Stress Research Consortium, Kinsey Institute, Indiana University Bloomington; professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cost $350 US

CEU 8.5

Registration Link:

1321 Antoine Dr.
Houston, TX 77055


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