Polyvagal Theory, Oxytocin & the Neurobiology of Social Behaviour

GC Communications LTD in conjunction with Thriving Kids Collective 

Proudly presents:


Polyvagal Theory, Oxytocin & the Neurobiology of Social Behaviour

Understanding how our nervous system reacts to and recovers from experiences of threat, stress, and trauma

A TWO-DAY WORKSHOP for Healthcare, Therapeutic and Education professionals.

You will learn:
 Principles and features of the Polyvagal Theory.
 How health and illness are manifested in the Social Engagement System.
 The adaptive and maladaptive functions of neuroception.  How the vagal brake regulates behavioural and emotional reactivity?  The features of Polyvagal-informed therapies  How music and voice contribute to healing following trauma
 How the Polyvagal Theory provides insights into clinical assessment and treatment?
 How oxytocin contributes to a neurobiology of social bonding and love.
 How oxytocin is involved in regulating stress and enhancing health.
 How oxytocin mediates the impact of social support, social bonds, and trusting relationships on physical and mental health.
 How oxytocin and vasopressin act as “neuromodulators” within the theoretical context of Polyvagal Theory.

Day 1: Monday 10th August 2020
Day 1 will focus on basic principles of the Polyvagal Theory. You will learn how a connection has emerged in the brain between the nerves that control the heart and the face. This connection provides the structures for the ‘Social Engagement System’, which links our bodily feelings and thought processes with facial expression, vocal intonation, and gesture. You will learn that the Social Engagement System is depressed in many forms of mental and physical illness and how to develop clinical strategies to rehabilitate the Social Engagement System.

Day 2: Tuesday 11th August 2020
Day 2 Dr Porges will be joined by Dr Carter. Dr Carter is the scientist who discovered how neuropeptides, such as oxytocin and vasopressin, programme the developing nervous system with life-long consequences for the brain and social behaviour. Integrating research on oxytocin with the Polyvagal Theory, Drs Porges and Carter will explore clinical applications. These include methods of assessment and potential strategies for treatment of features associated with autism, auditory hypersensitivities, abuse, neglect, and trauma.

Stephen W. Porges, PhD

In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behaviour. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioural, psychiatric, and physical disorders. The theory has stimulated research and treatments that emphasise the importance of physiological state and
behavioural regulation in the expression of several psychiatric disorders and provides a theoretical perspective to study and to treat stress and trauma.

Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium in the Kinsey Institute. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He served as president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioural & Brain Sciences and is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award.

He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers across several disciplines including anaesthesiology, biomedical engineering, critical care medicine, ergonomics, exercise physiology, gerontology, neurology, neuroscience, obstetrics, paediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, psychometrics, space medicine, and substance abuse.

Doctor Porges is the creator of a music-based intervention, the Safe and Sound Protocol ™, which is currently in use by over 1500 therapists to improve spontaneous social engagement, to reduce hearing sensitivities, and to improve language processing, state regulation, and spontaneous social engagement.

Doctor Porges is the author of The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation (Norton, 2011), The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe, (Norton, 2017) and co-editor of Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies (Norton, 2018).

C. Sue Carter, PhD

C. Sue Carter, PhD is Distinguished University Scientist and former Director of the Kinsey Institute and Rudy Professor of Biology at Indiana University Bloomington and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she co-directed the Brain-Body Centre in the Department of Psychiatry. She formerly held the position of Distinguished University Professor of Biology at the University of Maryland and prior to that was Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Ecology, Ethology and Evolution at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Carter is past president of the International Behavioural Neuroscience Society and holds fellow status in that Society and in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Award. She has authored more than 300 publications, including editorship of 5 books including Attachment and Bonding: A New Synthesis (MIT Press, 2006). Dr. Carter discovered the important role that oxytocin plays in establishment of social bonds and parental behaviour.

Professor Carter is the scientist who discovered the relationship between social behaviour and oxytocin. Her work examines how oxytocin pathways are at the centre of the neurobiological systems that permitted the evolution of human sociality and love. You will learn about the unique actions of oxytocin, including the facilitation of birth, lactation, maternal behaviour and social bonding. Dr. Carter also will discuss the role of oxytocin in the regulation of stress and trauma across the life-cycle, and the anti-inflammatory mechanisms that underlie

the healing power of love. Oxytocin acts as a regulator of the autonomic nervous system to allow the high levels of social sensitivity and attunement necessary for human sociality and for rearing a human child. Dr. Carter’s research on oxytocin helps us understand the explanatory value of the polyvagal theory for mental and physical health.

When:    10th & 11th August 2020
Where:   Riccarton Park, The Show Gate Venue, 165 Racecourse Road, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch

*Flights, Accommodation and car hire can be arranged

For further information and bookings:

GG Communications: Glenn Grant – [email protected]
Thriving Kids Collective: Beverley Flitton – [email protected]


Non-Werry Workforce Whāraurau Event (Werry Workforce Whāraurau does not endorse this event and takes no responsibility for the quality of the event)


10th & 11th August 2020
Riccarton Park, The Show Gate Venue, 165 Racecourse Road, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch
Who Should Attend: 

A TWO-DAY WORKSHOP for Healthcare, Therapeutic and Education professionals.