Neuro Affective Relational Model for Working with Complex Trauma (NARM)
"The metaprocess for the NARM model is the mindful awareness of self in the present moment. The client is invited into a fundamental process of inquiry: 'What are the patterns that are preventing me from being present to myself and others at this moment and in my life?'"
-- NARM Training Institute Website
-- NARM Training Institute Website
The Neuro Affective Relational Model for working with complex trauma is an elegant model: a specialized psychobiological approach to working with developmental trauma which integrates top-down and bottom-up inquiry to connect with and unwind patterns that have developed as survival strategies. Survival strategies are helpful mechanisms of protection and organization when they first emerge, often in childhood, and later show up as symptoms / diminished experience of aliveness, connection, and freedom. The process comes from Dr. Laurence Heller, who is the founder of the NeuroAffective Relational Model© (NARM). He holds a Ph.D in psychology and was in private practice for over 30 years. Read more about Dr. Heller here.
NARM is an inquiry based processed, which supports integrating our body experience, emotions, and ideas about who we are. It's more than just a trauma model, although that in itself is a beautiful and powerful thing. NARM supports development, learning, healing, and also disidentification, which has a correlation with what spiritual paths refer to as self-realization. NARM includes a way to discover for ourselves when we're connected with child consciousness (unintegrated states from the past) and when we're connected more directly with our essential selves in a given moment.
Following are a few aspects of how NARM is structured.
Pillar 1 - Intention
Pillar 1 is about connecting with our own (or the client's) motivation, with questions like: What do I want for myself? What state or inner experience do I want to create? What is my intention?
Pillar 2 - Asking Exploratory Questions
Pillar 2 deepens inquiry, or drilling down into experience, thinking, source, as it arises or is experienced in the present moment with curiousity, kindness, and presence vs. assessment, as so often there are assumptions we are making or important embodied information we are absent to.
Pillar 3 - Reinforcing Agency
Pillar 3 is about cultivating adult consciousness and conscious choice, including discovering what is within our control now, the emotional completion process, and sorting out past from the present and potential future. A symptom of developmental trauma is self-shaming which can occur at the level of thinking and/or physiologically. Reinforcing agency supports integration and connecting with a conscious, felt sense of choice in relation to our experience.
Pillar 4 - Reflecting Positive Shifts
Pillar 4 encourages us to notice when our nervous system and body settles, and our state becomes more relaxed, flowing, open, and safe, so we can relax into enjoying that integrative state. Moments of integration allow our physical and emotional bodies to 'catch up' with our thinking.
Five Organizing Developmental Themes*
There are five developmental life themes and associated core resources that are essential to our capacity for self-regulation and affect our ability to be present to self and others in the here-and-now:
* Sourced from the NARM Training website
The Quality of Heartfulness in NARM
Heartfulness in NARM is both an intention for compassion and a natural outcome of residing in a compassionate embodied state in the disidentification process. As we dive into what we want and what is getting in the way of what we want with curiosity, holding both sides of a dilemma, we gradually identify less with the self-shaming and blaming mechanisms that previously led to a shut-down energetic, allowing compassionate connecton to gradually arise and be felt and enjoyed.