How sustained disruptions to children's safety have physical, behavioral, and mental health impact that follow them into adulthood.
At its heart, polyvagal theory describes how the brain’s unconscious sense of safety or danger impacts our emotions and behaviors. In this powerful book, pediatrician and neonatologist Marilyn R. Sanders and child psychiatrist George S. Thompson offer readers both a meditation on caregiving and a call to action for physicians, educators, and mental health providers. When children don’t have safe relationships, or emotional, medical, or physical traumas punctuate their lives, their ability to love, trust, and thrive is damaged. Children who have multiple relationship disruptions may have physical, behavioral, or mental health concerns that follow them into adulthood.
By attending to the lessons of polyvagal theory—that adult caregivers must be aware of children’s unconscious processing of sensory information—the authors show how professionals can play a critical role in establishing a sense of safety even in the face of dangerous, and sometimes incomprehensibly scary, situations.
Book Launch Webinar with Our Birth Journey
What People Are Saying
"[Sanders and Thompson] skillfully employ PVT to elucidate the biological underpinnings of emotion regulation in attachment relationships, showing how vagal tone supports social connections essential for a feeling of safety needed to cope with childhood adversity. The authors buttress their conceptual framework with scholarly research and clinical examples. Most importantly, they infuse their writing and practice with the key ingredient for healing that transcends the remarkable vagus nerve’s contribution: a compassionate spirit."
-Jon G. Allen, Ph.D., Clinical Professor, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Voluntary Faculty
"With this beautifully written exploration of the science of safety, Drs. Sanders and Thompson offer a guide to engaging the vagal pathways embedded in our biology and creating the social connections that are the foundation of well-being."
–Deb Dana, Rhythm of Regulation, best-selling author of Polyvagal Exercises for Safety & Connection
"In their brilliant text, Sanders and Thompson deliver an inspiring call to action. After carefully explaining how the polyvagal system works, they make a convincing argument for educating others (especially those caring for infants, children, and families) with the goal of establishing a trauma and polyvagal-informed society. This book could and should be required reading for teachers, physicians, psychotherapists, and any other professional caregivers interested in the development of resilience as an optimal outcome."
-Deborah L. Korn, Psy.D., Faculty, Trauma Research Foundation and EMDR Institute, coauthor, Every Memory Deserves Respect