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WEBINAR. Treating Trauma and Addiction with the Felt Sense Polyvagal Model: A Bottom Up Approach

  • 18 Mar 2021
  • 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
  • Zoom


  • Members don't pay
  • For those who have been special invited by Members to attend.

Registration is closed

The International Focusing Institute, in a USABP Spotlight Series Event, present a new way of understanding and treating trauma and addiction. Introduced by Jan Winhall. 

2 CE credits available
This live event is recorded for on-demand home study viewing by members and paid registrants

Check out the following material. Some of which you will need to print off for this webinar,

"In Treating Trauma and Addiction with the Felt Sense Polyvagal Model Jan Winhall introduces a new strategy to treat addiction that brilliantly integrates Gendlin’s classic concept of a felt sense with Polyvagal Theory..."

~ 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.

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"...Jan Winhall has produced a brilliant synthesis and expansion of addiction theory and treatment that should be read by all therapists, not just addiction specialists."

~ Harville Hendrix, PhD, and Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD, authors of Doing Imago Relationship Therapy in the Space Between

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"... Jan Winhall brings together the essence of groundbreaking modern therapeutic practices with her own decades of hard-won clinical experience to fashion a new, deeply humane and promising model of addiction treatment..."

~ Gabor Maté, MD, is the author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

Workshop Description

March 18th, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PST

This live webinar (recorded for encore viewing) will present a new way of understanding and treating trauma and addiction. The Felt Sense Polyvagal Model provides a paradigm shift from the traditional disease approach  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 will include a description of how to apply the model with clients through participant exercises, case examples and live demonstration.

Summarizing Main Points of Workshop

•    Introducing the journey over forty years of clinical experience in developing the Felt Sense Polyagal Model. Including: Critiquing current top down ways of treating addiction and the need for a bottom up approach.

•    Describing the evolution of the model, three graphic versions as they developed. First Model: Felt Sense Experience: Feminist, Trauma informed model includes description of Gendlin’s Felt Sense and Focusing Oriented Psychotherapy 

•    Second Model: Felt Sense Experience Model of Treating Addiction. Description of Siegel’s Interpersonal Neurobiology as it integrated into the model to build on the theoretical framework. The role of attachment as it relates to addiction and trauma. 

•    Third Model: 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 of the Model 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.

•    Live Demonstration of Application of the Felt Sense Polyvagal Model with client.

Learning Objectives
Participants will be able to:
1.   describe the two branches of the traditional model of the autonomic nervous system and Porges contribution of the third branch (Polyvagal Theory), the dorsal vagus, and the social engagement system.

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

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

4.   name the four avenues into Gendlin’s concept of Felt Sense and how to apply this embodied practice in psychotherapy.  


Afford, P. (2020). Therapy in the age of neuroscience. New York & London: Routledge.

Alexander, B. (2008). The globalization of addiction, A study in poverty of the spirit. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2008.  

Badenoch, B. (2008). Being a brain-wise therapist: A practical guide to interpersonal neurobiology. New York, NY & London: W.W. Norton & Company.

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.

Tatarsky, A. ((2002). Harm Reduction Psychotherapy. New York. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

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.

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 has built a community of people who teach and practice Focusing as a way of life. She is a creator of the Integrative Focusing Therapy training program

Jan presents internationally on trauma and addiction.

Her upcoming book, Treating Addiction with The Felt Sense Polyvagal Model: A Bottom Up Approach is the result of rethinking the Felt Sense Experience Model that she wrote about in Emerging Practice in Focusing- Oriented Psychotherapy, 2014.

Costs and CE Credits

2 CE credits pending
Course fee is free to member 
(add $15 for CEs)
$45 for non-members (add $15 for CEs)
This live event is recorded for on-demand home study viewing by members and paid registrants.  Home study coursework for CE credits requires taking a quiz.

Get Focusing Institute Training and Resource Info

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