NATouch Professional Training
Integrating Touch and Psychotherapy
The NeuroAffective Touch™ Foundational Training
A Relational Body-Focused Psychodynamic Approach
for Healing Developmental Trauma and Supporting Post-Traumatic Growth
and Relational Trauma
Dr. Aline LaPierre
Coauthor of Healing Developmental Trauma:
How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship
San Francisco and Los Angeles 2020
Three 4-Day Modules
Los Angeles 2020: Module 1 Jan 10-13 - Module 2 May 1-4 Module 3 July 17-20
San Francisco 2020: Module 1 Feb 14-17 - Module 2 June 12-15 - Module 3 August 21-24
The NeuroAffective Touch™ Learning Experience
NeuroAffective Touch™ is a body-focused and neurologically informed psychotherapy that uses somatic therapy and bodywork approaches as vital psychobiological interventions. Designed to bridge the disciplines of psychotherapy and bodywork, the training integrates the key elements of developmental theory, relational psychotherapy, somatic psychology, and bodywork. By highlighting the primary role of the body and emphasizing its equal importance to the mind, NeuroAffective Touch™ addresses emotional, relational, cognitive, and developmental deficits that cannot be reached by verbal means alone.
This approach transcends the limitations of talk therapy for healing core relational wounds. We address what to do when there are no words, when words are not enough, or when words get in the way. We explore how to proceed when clients suffer from nonverbal or preverbal distress reflected in their difficulty with:
- Experiencing themselves and knowing they exist
- Soothing themselves and developing self-regulation
- Identifying and communicating their needs
- Feeling trapped in negative states of self-judgment, shame, and guilt
When psychological identity is built on the shaky foundation of an early-traumatized physiology, an integrated psychobiological approach is necessary. Working with developmental trauma must include talk and bodywork.
The training is organized to parallel psychobiological development, beginning with conception, pre-natal development, and birth. It progresses through the identity-forming phases of separation and individuation, connecting the individuation of the body to the development of self-image and identity.
Our bodies tell the story of our struggles to love and be loved. For example, pressures on the cranial base, respiratory diaphragm, heart, or digestive system reflect and maintain the emotional injuries of abandonment, neglect, abuse, and betrayal. Thus, the ability to address chronic emotional shock goes hand in hand with nurturing a dysregulated physiology. We use bodywork to provide heart-centered connection that enables the release of tensions in the muscles and viscera and stimulates post-traumatic growth.
In NeuroAffective Touch™ we use a variety of client-centered self touch and therapist-client psychobiological interventions to work bottom-up with a client's implicit procedural behavior, posture, and movement, and top-down with thoughts, beliefs, and trauma-based identifications. We believe that in its own way, the body's intelligence is equal to the brain's and facilitate their collaborative partnership by centering on their convergence in the heart.
This training brings special attention to the personal somatic development of the practitioner. NATouch™ recognizes that to work with a client's body, therapists must know their own. The training therefore includes a focus on personal psychobiological awareness to help practitioners develop an embodied presence that heightens their capacity for sensory attunement, resonance, and clinical effectiveness.
Who Will Benefit
This training is helpful to all mental health practitioners, psychotherapists, psychologists, social workers, bodywork practitioners, nurses, and coaches who wish to increase their capacity to integrate body and mind in the resolution of attachment and emotional trauma and relational deficits:
- For psychotherapists, it progressively builds your confidence in integrating bodywork, client self touch, and body-centered interventions in clinical practice. Practitioners who do not bodywork learn to teach centering self touch that helps clients connect and resource in the body.
- For bodyworkers, it expands verbal and psychological skills. Bodyworkers learn to elicit the identity-forming cognitive narratives that help process and integrate changes in bodily states.
NeuroAffective Touch™ Foundational Training
1. Healing Our Deepest Core ~ Nurturing Pre-Natal and Infant States
Biological Life Force - Conception - Attunement
Healing early trauma begins with offering the missing nonverbal experiences of somatic support and attunement — a bottom-up connection to sensory experiences of trust and comfort from which to create a different top-down narrative. Attuned presence and somatic intention address the three essential self-states necessary for secure attachment and emotional well-being:
- I exist
- I am loved
- My needs are important
We start at the beginning, at conception to "get under" trauma and support growth. Our body-based affective approach addresses the nonverbal implicit self. We begin with an experiential somatic introduction that helps practitioners embody the principles of the Biological Life Force, orient developmental processes to the Midline Regulatory Axis, and become familiar with the Polyvagal Energy Centers that fuel the growth of the self.
We focus on developing key somatic skills necessary for working with attachment deficits and trauma:
- Using nurturing, comforting, and attuned somatic intentions and bodywork to support the core capacity to trust and yield
- Developing palpation skills to sense changes in tissue density and tone
We address the student's embodied presence by encouraging a personal psychobiological exploration. The capacity for connection and attunement within a therapist—client dyad depends on each member's early attachment experiences, hence the importance of the therapist's own capacity for self-regulation and body-mind communication. We address embodied presence by:
- Learning to monitor breath, flow, and pulsation to heighten somatic resonance
- Bringing vigilance, protections, and internal pressures to awareness
- Exploring intersubjective space, somatic transference and countertransference — how therapist and client experience the other's physical and energetic states within their own bodies
Lastly, all clinical work using bodywork must address legal, ethical, and scope of practice issues. This includes taking a somatic history, exploring your clients' fears about body-centered interventions, and evaluating their readiness to go beyond talk therapy.
You will practice how to:
- Center in the Midline Regulatory Axis to stabilize traumatic disorientation
- Create dialogues that engage a collaborative mind-body relationship
- Use NATouch™ protocols to address preverbal trauma: establishing resonance, creating a nurture surround, amniotic touch, awakening compression
- Meet a client's tender attachment needs without creating dependency
2. Connecting with the Emotional Body to Support Self-Regulation
Primacy of the Heart - Diaphragmatic Gates- Heart-Mind Collaboration
This segment expands the traditional psychodynamic understanding of identity as residing in the mind. It addresses how to help clients who live primarily in their mind to connect to their heart, emotions, and self-compassion. Clients who have experienced emotional/relational trauma live in chronic states of freeze, depression, or despair that can be challenging to reach. Their anguished minds and fearful bodies are trapped in distress cycles of self-judgment, blame, and shame.
We apply the latest research in interpersonal and affective neuroscience to work with the Heart Center and release the Diaphragmatic Gates that regulate emotion and hold in emotional shock. This brings awareness to unconscious, procedural patterns and stimulates the formation of new neural pathways. In particular we focus on:
- Supporting and nurturing the heart area to tend to heart-centered emotional shocks
- Releasing the respiratory and shoulder diaphragms that hold in stress and shock in order to regulate the flow of emotional energy
- Assisting the arms and hands to express the desires of the heart
- Sensing neuroaffective signaling as it shift from dysregulated or dissociated states to regulated pulsation
Therapists learn to recognize and welcome the subtle yet powerful presence of their clients' biological life
force, while simultaneously stabilizing their emotions and expanding their capacity for social connection.
Therapists learn to recognize and welcome the subtle yet powerful presence of their clients' biological life force, while simultaneously stabilizing their emotions and expanding their capacity for social connection.
You will practice how to:
- Explore the Primacy of the Heart as the central emotional and energy center
- Address how relational shocks to the heart affect early attachment and the adult capacity for relationship
- Stabilize dysregulated emotional patterns in the Polyvagal Energy Centers and Diaphragmatic Gates
- Language nonverbal states to bridge the gap between sensory experiences and cognitive adult awareness
- Interrupt the brain's predictive mechanisms to maintain a time-line awareness of past, present, and future
- Use body-mind collaborative languaging to help client's develop a loving body-mind-heart relationship that reduces shame and self-rejection
3. Emergence and the Growth of the Self
Enteric Nervous System - Naval Radiation - Imaginal Links
This segment explores the enteric nervous system and digestive system. Stressors and aggressions reverberate like shockwaves in the viscera. Memories of sustained aggressions or neglect are imprinted in the body's inner most depths — in the organs. Bringing compassionate presence to the body's core is essential to deconstruct and heal the somatic numbing, bracing, and collapse that result from abuse, neglect, abandonment, and violation.
As would a committed and caring partner, the mind must attune to the body's internal narrative. It must learn to decode the sensory language of tissues, organs, and systems. Not only do organs store shock, but every client has his or her weak link: an organ that is more vulnerable than others and becomes the target of their stress. This module asks the question: "What memory is stored in my liver, kidney, or stomach?" It looks at how emotions are connected to the function of the organs. We pay particular attention to:
- Working with the power of Naval Radiation to overcome developmental distress in the enteric nervous system or gut brain
- Gently making contact into each organ according to its intrinsic movement and need
Imagery often emerges in consciousness when working somatically. Emergence is a term that describes a sudden insight that reveals something we had no idea we knew. Imagery emerges when we leave cognitive logic and rationality and enter the intuitive realm of the body. Images are metaphors that bridge the communication between nonverbal bodily experience and the verbal mind. They signal an emergent growth process and guide the integration of new neural pathways.
You will practice how to:
- Use drawing to map the body's internal reality
- Help clients recognize how they override their own internal experience
- Recognize and amplify the often subtle yet powerful indicators of life force encoded in language, imagery, gesture, and posture
- Deconstruct somatic patterns of numbing, bracing, and collapse that result from abuse, neglect, abandonment, and violation
4. Renegotiating Hypervigilance
Looking and Seeing - Hearing and Listening - Verbal Expression
This segment explores how clients process sensory information. Chronic relational and emotional distress overstimulate the sensory orienting systems of the eyes and ears and close down the capacity for vocal expression. It leaves clients trapped in a distorted world of negative projections and introjects.
We address vigilance, boundary breaches, and the need for reliable protection. Contraction in the eyes, ears, cranial base and throat areas signal a withdrawal from experience and self-expression. To the degree that clients disengage from their senses, they lose touch with reality and their capacity for social engagement. Opening the eyes to see and the ears to listen are key components of orientation to reality, midline alignment, and self-other connection. In this module we:
- Use simple NATouch™ protocols to help the ears stop listening for danger and the eyes stop looking for threat
- Open the Diaphragmatic Gates at the cranial base, tentorium and dome
- Explore how the eyes and ears are an intrinsic part of the ventral branch of the polyvagal social engagement system
We bring awareness to the throat to free the vocal cords. Opening the throat and releasing the vocal folds is a key healing component for clients who do not speak their truth for fear of loosing their attachment figures. As clients lean to trust that they will be heard without judgment and lovingly received, they reclaim their capacity for verbal self-expression.
You will practice how to:
- Explore the sensory muscular, and psychological convergence of the ears, eyes, jaw, cranial base, throat, shoulders, and back to reset the vigilance system
- Anchor boundaries in the bones and muscles
- Identify your listening style and map your visual field
- Open the throat expression center
5. Restoring Connection with the Developmental Blueprint
Convergence - Individuation - Post-Traumatic Growth
In this last segment, we identify resources and interruptions in the bodymind developmental progression. Using the NATouch™ Developmental Blueprint, we co-construct with our clients a map of the flows and blockages that are the outcome of their family history in order to form a body-inclusive treatment plan that supports restoring connections between bottom up embodied organization and top-down identity. This map becomes a guide for the collaborative work of post-traumatic growth.
We review and integrate the principles and skills learned in the first four modules. Learning to nurture and guide the emergence of the self via the dynamic interplay between growing trust, secure expression, expanding life force, and the renegotiation of somatic survival adaptations reconnects clients to their developmental blueprint.
You will practice how to:
- Work with procedural implicit posture and gestures to somatically deconstruct a client's adaptive survival patterns
- Reconstruct the protective boundaries that bring the body back to safety and open the capacity for loving connection often deeply buried by trauma
- Stimulate neuroplasticity through opening new neural pathways
What Students Are Saying
"The integration of relational and somatic models makes the work especially useful for what most of my clients struggle with: an arrest at one stage or another of their development. These disciplines support each other in ways that approaching work with either one or the other separately could not accomplish."
RL / LMFT
RL / LMFT
"The NeuroAffective Touch™ training has given new dimension to my work as a clinician working with all my clients. I teach couples to learn to be more somatically attuned to their partners and how they can support each other through touch. I have always incorporated drawing, writing, and sound in my practice and now using somatic approaches dovetails very well with these other modalities."
LL / LMFT, SEP, NARM
"As a therapeutic bodyworker trained in working with shock trauma, NeuroAffective Touch™ has given me the framework and language to effectively work with the relational traumas that invariably surface in the therapeutic encounter.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been able to learn from Aline. Her compassion is palpable. Her ability to help me grasp what she knows and feels has been a gift to me — and in turn, to the clients I now more effectively serve. I look forward to continuing to be mentored by one of the best in the field, who I have no doubt, will be known for years to come as a pioneer in integrating bodywork and psychotherapy."
KB / MA, NMT, SEP
" I value Aline's work because of how she brings in attachment and that is so essential in learning touch work. Also, I love that she includes the life force showing that there is an intelligence within us that guides the healing process. It is at once scientific and metaphysical."
CR / Ph.D, SEP
"I am a clinical psychologist specializing in developmental trauma and addiction and Aline's teachings have added immensely to my therapeutic work and my clients' recovery rates. She is extremely intelligent, compassionate, warm, caring, sensitive, and has a brightness that shines through. Her lectures are full of scientific and clinical information and alive with visuals, videos, dyadic and experiential exercises. I have left every training more fascinated and more educated. Being able to deeply work bottom up, along with top down, has strengthened my work and my confidence."
LF-G / PhD, NMP, NARM
"As Aline's thorough instruction unveils the exquisite somatic intelligence of the body, we practitioners develop a deeper quieter access into our own bodies. Her introduction to the sensory aspects of emotion deeply resonated with me and surprisingly helped me become much more embodied than I had ever known was possible.
Aline creates a very supportive and safe environment to practice the tools of self touch as well as relational touch. I am now able to gently assist clients in moving past defenses and projections, enabling them to experience trust, relaxation and an internalized sense of safety, many had never experienced before. My clients report experiencing calmer re-regulated nervous systems with less reactivity in their reactions to life's roller coaster ride of disappointments and frustrations."
In my experience, Aline's NeuroAffective Touch™ program is the fastest, safest, most gentle approach to shifting a client's anxious dysregulated nervous system into a more coherent and resilient nervous system."
LC / MFT, SEP
Dr. Aline LaPierre, PsyD, MFT, SEP
Dr. LaPierre was on the faculty of the Somatic Doctoral Program at Santa Barbara Graduate Institute (2000-2010). She has been actively involved in the field of somatic psychology and body psychotherapy for over 30 years and specializes in the integration of body-inclusive relational psychodynamic psychotherapy and energy approaches.
A graduate of Pacifica Graduate Institute, she also trained as a psychoanalyst at the New Center for Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles. Her knowledge of the body is grounded in years of study with Emilie Conrad at Continuum as well as in Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen's BodyMind Centering and numerous hands-on bodywork modalities. She was a member of the Allan Schore Affective Neuroscience study group for several years. She maintains a private practice in Brentwood.
Laura Melton, CATCi, CMP, SEP
LAURA MELTON has worked in field of pain management, stress, and self-regulation for 25 years. She is a bodyworker, Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner, certified NARM practioner, and graduate of the Pierce College Addiction Studies counseling program.
As a bodyworker, Laura is trained in Esalen massage, Biodynamic and Upledger Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Ortho-Bionomy, Bodynamics, Savroopa, Ashtanga, Hatha, and Thai Yoga. She has been a California State Certified Massage Therapist since 1992. In addition, she has an extensive background in classical dance as well as in contemporary healing movement such as Emily Conrad's Continuum and Gabriel Roth's 5 Rhythms.
Since 2001, Laura has been a teaching assistant to Dr. Peter Levine and to numerous SE faculty throughout the US, Canada, Brazil, and Australia. She is currently an addiction counselor intern, facilitating Trauma Resiliency education and process groups and assisting meditation and grief process groups. She maintains a private practice in Tarzana and Beverly Hills.
CE credits are provided by and can be purchased from R. Cassidy Seminars, P.O. Box 14473, Santa Rosa, CA 95402.
24 CE credits are awarded for the completion of each live training module. 72 CEs for all three modules . Participants must have paid a tuition fee, signed in, attended the entire seminar, completed an evaluation, and signed out in order to receive a certificate. Failure to sign in or out result in forfeiture of credit for the entire module. No exceptions will be made. Partial credit is not available. Upon completion you will receive a link to purchase your CEs.
Certificate of Completion
A Certificate of Completion is awarded to students who complete the NATouch™ Foundational Training.
Early Registration $870 per module - Full Tuition $945 per module
Package Discount for all 3 modules $2500 A saving of $335