NeuroAffective Relational Model of Therapy

I talked the other day about how I was in a new style of therapy that puts me more in touch with my emotions. That style of therapy, for anyone who is curious, is called the NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM).

NARM is a therapy style that looks at complex trauma. It focuses a lot on the psychobiological causes of our distress and deals a lot with attachment therapy. And if you’re thinking like those sound like a lot of big words, you’re right. I actually love the way my therapist explained it, which is that it is it deals with trauma with a lower case t. So as opposed to severe trauma, like parents being physically abusive or being assaulted or something like that, it deals more with people not being as emotionally present as you need them to be or other emotional needs that you’ve never learned and need to learn about. That is what, in my mind, complex trauma is. Subtle trauma. Trauma with a lower case t.

As for the psychobiological component, whatever that means, the way I experienced it was my therapist working with me on where in my body I feel my emotions. Because not only was I often not aware of my emotions, I often don’t recognize that my emotions impact my physical body in specific ways. For example, in my most recent therapy session I realized I was experiencing anger as a lot of tightness in my chest.

And I also learned through NARM the subtle ways I repress my emotions. Sometimes it is just being completely unaware of them, but sometimes it is feeling guilty for feeling certain emotions. But what I am learning, and working on internalizing, is that there is no such thing as a wrong emotion.

Let me say that again for anyone who, like myself, might need to hear it twice. There is no such thing as a wrong emotion.

Emotion is our body’s way of trying to communicate with us. Where we sometimes run into problems is how we act on our emotions. So for example, the anger that I feel is a normal human emotion. It is my body trying to tell me something, specifically that I wasn’t okay with how I was treated in a certain situation. However, the problem is when I take that anger out on the wrong person, or act defensive when someone tries to offer me well meaning advice.

And this experience, learning how to be more in-touch with my emotions and how to manage them, will be such a positive step in my recovery, which is one of the reasons I wanted to share my experience with NARM here for everyone.

And if you are interested in learning more, check our the NARM Training Institute for more information.


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