Neurobiological concepts are reviewed on arousal systems in the nervous system (body and brain) that may result in flight, fight, freeze, faint, fawn, and freeze reactions. Special emphasis will be on the varieties of the freeze reaction, i.e., the dissociative reactions. Various ways to identify and address the dissociative reactions will be explored via case material.
From graduate students in clinical programs to clinicians with many years of experience, this information would be of interest in work with clients who are coping with the impact of traumatic events and/or chronically stressful environments by using the defensive maneuver of dissociation. Memory, identity, and perceptions of the environment can be disrupted by dissociation, an autohypnotic protective mechanism employed to maintain a certain level of psychological and emotional integrity (Zlotnic, et al., 1996). Such integrity, undamaged, leads to a sense of self that differentiates past, present and future with ease. However, a primary location in the brain of a sense of self, the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex(DMPFC), is increasingly deactivated as dissociation increases. As many clinical interventions focus in various ways to enhance the embodiment of a self that is living in the present, then identifying and addressing dissociation are critical skills.
- Why neurobiological concepts are important to clinical work
- The differences between types of arousal in reaction to trauma
- How to recognize the safety/danger function of neuroception (i.e., perceiving neurologically)
- How to recognize subtle cues to levels of arousal in clinical interactions with clients
Meet the Presenter! Arlene Montgomery, Ph.D., LCSW-S
Montgomery has made numerous presentations on topics such as foster care issues; anti-social children; emotional aspects of C-sections; sexually abused children’s special problems with intimacy; forming therapeutic alliances with difficult children and adolescents; eating disorder identification in schools; supervision issues regarding counter-transference; keeping therapeutic alliance in short-term therapy; and neurobiological findings relevant to the therapeutic alliance, treatment considerations and ethical considerations. She also has a private practice with a focus on clients affected by trauma and is a clinical supervisor for licensed master’s social workers fulfilling their requirements for the clinical social worker licensure. She has been the director of Social Services at Child and Family Service, the Settlement Club Home, and Meridell Achievement Center.
Professional interests include the clinical implications of the neurobiology of relationships between and among people as it relates to social service delivery and clinical work, with particular interest in group work, supervision, attachment, adolescents, and trauma.