Relational Trauma Relational Healing: Insights from recent neuroscience on the centrality of connections

We now know a great deal about the importance of connections in the human services generally, in the provision of therapeutic support, and CYC more broadly. This presentation explores the question ‘is there anything new that the recent interpersonal neuroscience can teach us?’ The presentation will focus on three insights or propositions that have emerged from the recent research and clinical thinking, focusing on the work of Bonnie Badenoch, Stephen Porges, Allan Schore, and Bessel van der Kolk among others.

The first proposition relates to an emerging perspective that the experience of trauma itself results from a failure of relational support in the face of of severe adversity; the corollary is that healing must be based on relational repair. The second insight derives from the work of Stephen Porges and his exploration of the background autonomic processes that serve to help us feel socially safe. His work stresses the universal, ongoing need for regulatory cues from others to help us manage social anxiety and has major implications for the way we interact with and support vulnerable children where they live, learn and play. Thirdly, we consider the thorny issue of how we can effectively teach self-regulation skills to those who struggle with unruly emotions, thoughts and impulses. We explore the implications for direct intervention and support workers of the emerging proposition that the capacity to self-regulate is more a product of timely relational support and consistent co-regulation than it is a skill that is formally taught and learned.


Howard Bath, Ph.D.

Consultant, Program Director , Allambi Care