How I Work
I use a number of counselling approaches, but increasingly the Neuro Affective Relational Model (NARM) and Internal Family Systems (IFS) are my main ways of looking at the difficulties that show up in our lives.
Both are trauma-informed models, but also lend themselves creatively and effectively to working on specific issues, and exploring personal growth and development
NeuroAffective Relational Model
“The spontaneous movement in all of us is toward connection, health and aliveness. No matter how withdrawn and isolated we have become, on the deepest level, just as a plant spontaneously moves toward sunlight, there is in each of us an impulse toward connection and healing”
Larry Heller, Founder of NARM
NARM integrates bottom-up (body-based) and top-down (mind-based) approaches to regulate the nervous system and resolve distortions of identity such as low self-esteem, shame, and chronic self-judgement that are the outcome of early trauma.
Although it may seem that people suffer from an endless number of emotional problems and challenges, in the NARM approach, we believe that most of these can be traced back to five biologically-based organising principles: the need for connection, attunement (having someone understand our needs and respond appropriately to them), trust, autonomy, and love-sexuality.
Before we begin to heal our early wounds and trauma in counselling, we often believe these problems and challenges are a part of who we are – and we judge ourselves for them – rather than seeing them as once protective adaptations that were needed to survive difficult family and life circumstances. Protective adaptations that have, in many cases, now outlived their usefulness.
Counselling with NARM enables us to recognise, update, re-purpose, or move away from using these early survival styles.
While not ignoring a person's past, NARM emphasises working in the present moment to focus on a person's strengths, resources, and resilience, in order to integrate the experience of connection that sustains our physiology, psychology, and capacity for relationship.
Internal Family Systems
“I want you to know that all your parts – collaborative, combative, angry, sad, numb, wild, protective or seemingly destructive parts – will be welcomed and respected in my counselling space”
The IFS approach is based on an understanding that we are all made up of many different parts and that having these different parts is natural, universal and useful. We also all have a Self which is capable of acting as a wise and compassionate leader able to heal and lead our internal family system of parts.
Trauma and wounding in life do not create these parts, but can burden some of them. Burdened parts can be forced into exile (where they hold deep wounds and memories filled with fear, sadness, anger and shame) or into protective roles they don’t like but believe are necessary.
These roles include:
Manager roles where parts act pre-emptively to keep us feeling secure by controlling people, events and other parts, and
Firefighter roles where parts spring into action with behaviours and traits such as abusing substances, attempting suicide, bingeing on food, over-spending, having affairs, dissociating, distracting or cutting, whenever pain from other parts, especially the more wounded exiles, gets activated and threatens to overwhelm the internal family system.
Counselling with IFS enables us to liberate parts from their extreme roles, restore trust in Self-leadership, and create internal balance, harmony and wholeness.