NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM)

The information below is borrowed from Laurence Heller's description of NARM (

The NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM) is a method of psychotherapy specifically aimed at treating attachment, relational and developmental trauma, otherwise referred to as “Complex Trauma” (Complex-PTSD or C-PTSD).  This developmentally-oriented, neuroscientifically-informed model emerged out of earlier psychotherapeutic orientations including Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Attachment Theory, Gestalt Therapy, and diverse Somatic Psychotherapy approaches. Integrating top-down psychotherapy with bottom-up somatic approaches within a relational context.

Developed by Dr. Laurence Heller over the course of his 45 year clinical career, it was first introduced in his widely selling book Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image and the Capacity for Relationship. Currently available in over ten languages.

The NARM model is a powerful approach to addressing adverse childhood experiences and its long-term consequences, as highlighted in the ACEs study. This approach was introduced in the influential book by NARM founder Dr. Laurence Heller, Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image and the Capacity for Relationship.

NARM holds that while what happened in the past is significant, it is not what happened in the past that creates the symptoms that people experience as adults. It is the persistence of survival styles appropriate to the past that distorts present experience and creates symptoms. These survival patterns, having outlived their usefulness, create ongoing disconnection from our authentic self and from others. For example, dissociation and isolation are the primary coping mechanisms for dealing with the earliest trauma. While dissociation and isolation have literally saved people’s lives, as this pattern continues into adulthood, it creates endless symptoms.

It is also the distortions of identity that develop in response to early trauma which create ongoing suffering. For example, children always experience environmental failure as their own failure. A simple example: if a child grows up with unloving parents, he or she is unable to see that this is their parents’ failure. Children tend to develop the sense of self that they are unlovable. A core element in the NARM model is working with the child’s and then the adult’s unconscious need to protect the attachment relationship. They do this in a process called splitting, which protects the image of the caregiver at the expense of their own positive sense of self. This has profound repercussions for all of us on a psychobiological level.

The NARM Clinical model has precise and effective techniques for working with the core themes of identity distortion and physiological dysregulation. In the NARM approach, we work simultaneously with the psychology and the physiology of individuals who have experienced developmental trauma, and focus on the interplay between issues of identity and the capacity for connection and regulation.

Windsong therapist trained in NARM:

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