How to Cope With Attachment Injuries During a Pandemic – Dr. Diane Poole Heller – HPP 66
Living in a world knowing the real threat of a global virus that has claimed thousands of lives is horrifying. The amount and the sheer number of people suffering from trauma because of the effects of the pandemic has been alarming and is still on the rise to this day.
With this threat in our midst, the issue of racism and oppression going around for hundreds of years have added more and more people to suffer under trauma causing severe attachment injuries. Is there hope that we, as providers, can help provide solutions for these ongoing chain of problems? How can we help our clients who are suffering from this cope and how does that affect a couple’s relationship struggling with trauma?
In today’s episode, we are truly honored to be joined by an influential researcher, an established expert in the field of Adult Attachment Theory and Models, trauma resolution, and integrative healing techniques, Dr. Diane Poole Heller. We’ll be heading deep into conversation around the negative impacts that attachment injuries bring and why it goes hand in hand with trauma, and a whole lot more.
Dr. Poole Heller’s Background and Interest in Attachment and Trauma – 03:43
“I got sensitive to trauma through having basically a head on collision car accident. That was traumatic in itself. But it also unlocked a lot of historical trauma that I didn’t even know I had. I had it so well disconnected from myself. So, it was kind of a double whammy in a way”
Understanding Attachment Injuries – 06:40
“disorganized attachment really is the most complicated part of attachment theory. And they didn’t even really have that classification in the beginning. I just noticed that some kids didn’t fit in avoidant or ambivalent, and they had a lot more PTSD type symptoms, like they approach a parent to reunite and they’d stop in the middle of the space and then just fall over”
Attachment Injuries and Complex Trauma – 11:18
“But I think that deeply understanding how to work with trauma and deeply understanding how to work with relationships and attachment. They just support each other so beautifully. I don’t work just somatically I mean; we also need to work emotionally and cognitively”
Working Remotely as Providers: Interesting Things to Consider – 14:09
“And then you add Zoom, where even if you look down to take notes or something, a person on the other side, the client might be thinking, Oh, they don’t care or they’re not interested or they’re playing a computer game or something, right. So, you have to be like making sure your taking care of the attachment bond, even if you have to look away once in a while, which is normal under normal circumstances”
Why the Presence of Providers is Important in Therapy – 20:20
“And a lot of therapists have found surprising to themselves that they can actually work online quite effectively. But I don’t think it’s the same as 3D. I think our attachment system and I talked to Stephen Porges about this, and he agrees it’s a great way of 2D. But 3D is so much better in terms of really getting that facial face to face connection, which we have on zoom. But in person, it still seems to help us shift our vagal nerve response and our physiology towards safety, even better when we’re actually feeling a person in their presence more directly”
The Significance of Achieving Secure Attachment – 23:22
“the more we do our own work, or help our clients do their work, and they are able to shift and learn skills, we have a big emphasis on learning skills to help person move back towards secure attachment—what we do is we break down each challenge in attachment, insecure attachment, and then we create a skill that fits for the person and one of the ways we do that is by actually taking our clients through the adult attachment inventory”
Interesting Exercises for Therapy – 27:49
“doing a full bodied chest and belly with your intimate partner right, or full belly hug, and that you stay in that hug until you feel each other’s body regulate the other body so you start to feel physiologically regulated. So, it might be like a minute or two. People think this is long when they actually do it, but it makes a world of difference”
How Attachment Behaves in Relationships: Monogamy Versus Polyamory – 40:01
“I think some of those same attachment issues probably would need to be addressed with each dyad. I mean, because different people stimulate different attachment reactions. If someone is not very available, and it might push you into being somewhat ambivalent, and then having a lot of anxiety about the lack of availability, but for somebody else, they might understand that and it might not be an issue at all”
Dealing with Racism in our Society Today – 48:39
“And some of them are different gender identity, folks and different racial groups are represented in that group. And even in that group, it’s hard to come up with like, how do we integrate this into a model? I don’t know. I do know being aware of it, naming it and training. And learning more and more about it is really important. So, I often get invited to keynote or to present at conferences. So, most people like fly in and fly out, I stay and I go to every workshop that has something about diversity”
Dr. Will Van Derveer, Keith Kurlander, Dr. Diane Poole Heller
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 00:00
Because I feel like it can help in so many different directions. But if all the world leaders would learn about secure attachment and we have a major reorientation or we get funding for all new families to really get training on this, it could change our culture faster than some other things. I just think it’s a big contribution. So I’m so grateful for all the people that research attachment and teach attachment.
Keith Kurlander 00:24
Thank you for joining us for The Higher Practice Podcast. I’m Keith Kurlander with Dr. Will Van Derveer. And this is the podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health. Hello, everyone. This has sort of been a trauma month for us in terms of really taking deep dives of people into trauma and attachment and how that psychological injury happens. And today, we’re going to be talking with Dr. Diane Poole Heller. Will, and I have known Diane for a long time, and she’s really on the forefront of attachment theory. And if you want to learn anything about attachment, she’s one of the people to go learn from. She’s really delved deep into attachment science and of course, trauma. She is one of the really key figures in the interplay and intersection between trauma and attachment injuries. And so that’s what this talk is really all about. We really explore the overlap between what happens and the early years of growth and development of a child and the things that can go wrong there in terms of having unhealthy attachment bonds and as attachment styles occur more over time and then looking at into adulthood, the concept of secure and insecure attachments and a very prevalent issue of insecure attachments, really, I think, at least in the West, and really trying to understand how much we can heal that, and how do we heal that? That’s what this conversation is really about. How do we have healthy adult relationships? So if you’re someone that struggled in adult relationships, or you’re working with people that have struggled in adult relationships, this is a great episode for you. It’s really a great episode for parents, because we talked quite a bit about what’s sort of the minimum bar that you need to achieve with a child and, you know, thankfully, I think we were designed as humans that the minimum bar is not as high as one would think, but it’s often missed unfortunately. Diane Poole Heller is an established expert in the field of adult attachment theory and models, trauma resolution and integrative healing techniques. She’s a trainer, presenter and speaker offering workshops, teleseminars, and educational materials on trauma, attachment models and their dynamics in childhood and adult relationships, as well as many other topics. She has lectured and taught around the world as both a Somatic Experiencing trainer and Special Topics presenter most recently with her very popular, dare dynamic attachment repatterning experience series on Adult attachment. Let’s welcome Diane to the show. Hi, Diane, welcome to the show.
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 03:41
I’m thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me.
Keith Kurlander 03:43
Yeah, it’s great to see you again. We thought a great place to start with your work is to find out a little bit about you and why you’ve devoted so much time, energy, resources to really changing the conversation around attachment and trauma and what personally got you so invested in this work?
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 04:03
That’s a big story. But I got sensitive to trauma through having basically a head on collision car accident. That was traumatic in itself. But it also unlocked a lot of historical trauma that I didn’t even know I had. I had it so well disconnected from myself. So, it was kind of a double whammy in a way. And then I spent about two years looking for somebody to do deep trauma work with and I found just little pockets of information that were helpful but not anything really coherent that I really felt was working for me. And I found Peter Levine’s work. So, I jumped into that, created his training program, taught for him for over 25 years and now we teach online together. But then even in the midst of working so deeply with the nervous system and physiology of trauma as well as the impact of emotional stuff and cognitive stuff. I really felt there was a strong piece that was really important because, as you know, with your clients and the therapists listening now, trauma tends to disconnect us in all directions from ourselves, from the ground, from spirituality, from other people, we end up being very isolated. And that kind of being on a roller coaster that we didn’t sign up to be on and it can be quite disruptive to one’s life. So, I started to really hone in on what’s happening relationally you know, and how do we bring our ability to connect to ourselves and connect other people back then I got really maniacally focused on attachment theory. And what I found was really great information and really great research and we’re building on so many wonderful people that we all are familiar with John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth and Mary Mane and all these many, many people I could mention Dan Siegel, that there wasn’t as much available as in a clinical sort of way, like, okay, you’re in the hot seat, you’re sitting with a client and you know, attachment theory and you know, trauma and all that, but how do you clinicalize the research, how do you use it? Or how do you find a way to bring that in, to have it be effective in therapy, that the implicit memory problem too, because a lot of it’s not conscious yet. So how do you trigger that in a way that’s gentle enough and not too overwhelming but you can get the issues on board to work with them?
Dr. Will Van Derveer 06:03
In medicine, sometimes we call that from the bench to the couch, you get the research to translate into the clinical setting. And I want to say thank you for making that happen for people, it’s really important.
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 06:14
Well, I learned so much from my clients, as we all do. And sometimes I have a really great clinical intervention and then my client, does it wrong or doesn’t do it the way I actually describe it, which is it turns out to be better. So, it’s a constantly evolving way. But I’ve found some really great ones that seem to be helping the efficacy of getting people better, more comfortable space, which is really the end goal for all of us, right to reduce suffering.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 06:40
So let’s tie it in a little bit deeper around attachment, and attachment injuries. Can you talk more about the overlap between attachment injuries and what we call complex trauma?
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 06:52
Well, I think about this sort of a little bit even more from an attachment perspective, because there’s the secure attachment where things go mostly right, and there was safety and love and connection in the family, the family was pro social, and all of that. And then there’s the different attachment disruptions, the most complicated one is disorganized attachment where there’s sort of an interweaving of the threat response from trauma. And then that sort of blocks the attachment system from organizing or connecting, especially if what was the parent that was scary or too chaotic or maybe not present due to an addiction, but there was a lot of chaos in the household or certainly sexual or verbal or emotional or physical abuse falls in that category. But as we know, as therapists, a lot of our clientele are struggling with that and it can sometimes be a chronic pattern or a situational pattern. But I feel it’s a marriage made in heaven to really understand deeply what happens physiologically and emotionally with trauma, much broader description than in our diagnostic information. And then also what’s happening with the attachment situation, what’s happening in the relational field even as the therapist working with the client, how are they presenting? And how are they attuned to? I think of it as try mindfulness like where, what’s happening in you, as you’re listening to an activating story, what’s happening in the client, you’re able to track that, but also what’s happening inter-relationally in the relational field between you and I think having that focus on all three things is really, really helpful. In terms of answering that question a little more specifically, disorganized attachment really is the most complicated part of attachment theory. And they didn’t even really have that classification in the beginning. I just noticed that some kids didn’t fit in avoidant or ambivalent, and they had a lot more PTSD type symptoms, like they approach a parent to reunite and they’d stop in the middle of the space and then just fall over or they would start going around in circles or they would run up to their parent and hit him in the face, like a flight response. They were doing these unusual things. And that’s where they started to really study. Sometimes it’s called disoriented. Sometimes it’s called type D, and people tend to call it disorganized because that really describes what’s going on. The attachment system is so flooded by the threat response. And the way it’ll show up that’s confusing in adult relationships is here you are, maybe you’re engaged to somebody, and you know they’re a safe person, you know they’re safe enough and not perfect, but perfectly imperfect, and you’re ready to go. And all of a sudden, you hit a certain level of intimacy. And it triggers this terror, you know, you have enough presence of mind to know it’s not coming from your partner, but you feel like it’s coming from the relationship. And it can create all sorts of confusion and I think sometimes unnecessary separation. So, I just feel like an urgency in a way or a calling to get this information out in the world in a usable way, whether it’s to the public or whether it’s to therapists working with clients, because I feel like it can help in so many different directions. I actually have sort of a vision that if all the world leaders would learn about secure attachment and we have a major reorientation or we get funding for all new families to really get training on this, it could change our culture faster than some other things. I just think It’s a big contribution. So, I’m so grateful to all the people that research attachment and teach attachment and have had that focus as well as trauma. We know I think everybody listening knows that trauma results in well, if you look at it from an autonomic nervous system perspective, you can have the sympathetic nervous system to on and you end up with anger or rage outbursts or panic attacks and we think of panic attacks as a thwarted flight response. So sometimes working with a flight response helps reduce that. We also like rage outbursts that just cycle or get triggered easily, be part of really working with a fight response to evoke it and initiate it and complete it in a session helps with that as one way and certainly dissociation and fragmentation and all of that is part of the situation too. Sometimes I think dissociation personally can happen whether you’re too activated in a sympathetic way. Or also if you’re shut down in an over activated parasympathetic reaction or like Steven Porges would call that the dorsal vagal response, and I love his work too. I think he’s made a huge contribution to our fields, in terms of kind of having the research that helps us understand why a somatic orientation really helps. And he also has an attachment orientation. So why is the relationship and sense of safety so important? So, we can dive into any of that, that you might like. But I find those perspectives really helpful.
Keith Kurlander 11:18
So, from your perspective, what I’m kind of hearing here is, we have these two terms of trauma and we have attachment, it seems like what you’re speaking to is trauma, sort of the neurological nervous system-based thing that happens, and then attachment being more of the relational thing that happens in a person. I guess what I’m curious about is when we talk about more severe attachment disruptions, attachment injuries, can you even separate? I mean, is there always just going to be trauma there in the system or is that straightforward?
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 11:47
Well, every situation can be complex in a slightly different way. But I think that deeply understanding how to work with trauma and deeply understanding how to work with relationships and attachment. They just support each other so beautifully. I don’t work just somatically I mean; we also need to work emotionally and cognitively. But I have a strong somatic focus because I feel like the body wisdom has really been not emphasized, well, now it’s more popular. But back when I started, people didn’t even see a connection between body and mind. I mean, in conferences, that was considered a cutting-edge idea. Now, that’s pretty normal. But I think the more we integrate somatic strategies, along with all the other things we know, I’m a synthesizer, I like to pick the gems out of everything I come in contact with and try to figure out a way that they fit or when they’re appropriate, because I’ve had clients like I’m sure many people listening had, I had a client that was my gosh, addicted to seven different substances. And he started at 13 when his brother died in the fire and the house burned down, and he was still 13. I mean, he was at the time as a client, he was probably 45. And he went from being a drug dealer to a CEO of a software company over the treatment course. I think it kind of went in a better direction, but we were able to kind of get rid of one addiction a year that took up seven years to clear the addiction and he couldn’t work somatically. His nervous system I think was so fried so much drug intake that we couldn’t work that way. I worked very cognitively with him. And that’s what worked. It’s like looking for the window that’s open, and then expanding it. And I think that’s a real clinical skill that we need to really appreciate in ourselves, but also why we need to have more than one or two approaches under our belt. Laurens Lasagn used to say, everybody should have at least three models that they’re really, really deeply trained in. Because otherwise you keep trying to force people into a box that may not fit for them.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 13:29
Well, that’s a great point. And I think, for the medical providers in the audience, we try to teach in our institute that it’s helpful to have all these different models to be working with, because when you get hyper specialized, like for example, let’s say you’re an SE practitioner, but you don’t have attachment tools, it can be a real liability, or vice versa. Same thing in medicine. It’s like the metaphor of the elephant where you know, you’ve got everybody touching a different part of the elephant and nobody knows it’s an elephant because you don’t have a big enough perspective. So I appreciate That you’re bringing that point of view.
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 14:01
And I love it that you’re doing integrative psychiatry, because that’s also bringing so many different modes of wisdom together.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 14:09
Well, speaking of healthcare providers and the current moment, the pandemic that we’re in and a lot of remote sessions happening for therapists and also for physicians and nurse practitioners, what would you like to say to the healthcare practitioners out there who are working with trauma right now, more from a teletherapy perspective?
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 14:29
Well, one of the things I think is interesting is aside from our intimate partner in intimate moments, therapy, even if you’re doing it in 3D, like if we were in the same room, it has more direct eye contact and any other form of communication, like in eye contact a lot in therapy, right? And then you add Zoom, where even if you look down to take notes or something, a person on the other side, the client might be thinking, Oh, they don’t care or they’re not interested or they’re playing a computer game or something, right. So, you have to be sure you’re taking care of the attachment bond, even if you have to look away once in a while, which is normal under normal circumstances, but like right now, if I started looking away, it seems weird, right? Because we’re on zoom. And there’s reaction. So, I even have exercises I give to clients that involve the attachment system called looking away, looking at and looking away. And you can do this online, I’d be like, if you were the client, and I’m the therapist staying in a kind of present mode, I would invite them to look away from me and track what they feel. And some of them feel relief. If they’re avoidant. They like the relief because it’s so intense to have the contact possibly, or they might if they’re more tilted towards ambivalent patterning, they might feel it is like they’re out of contact. So, they feel a little abandonment or fear of abandonment or I won’t be there when they look back. And I have them do that timing on their own. I said you can look back whenever you want. And if I feel they’re particularly activated by the exercise, I’ll just talk to them while they’re looking away. And I might even say something like I’m still here. I know there are issues so I will reinforce what I think is most recent cheering for them. And so, they’re tracking my connection through my voice. But sometimes people find your voice intrusive, so I might not use my voice. And then we track what their reactions are. And they come back. And sometimes they say things like, oh, you’re still there. I mean, as if I could leave, right, but their attachment system is giving them that fear. It’s coming from a long time ago. But then we can work with it, right? And then if they’re pretty stable and grounded, and then there’s a second level of this, where they stay looking directly, like you’re looking at me right now. And then I look away, and I look away, I might still talk to them as I’m looking away, but I’m tracking their reactions to my looking away. And then I said, well, you can invite me to look back or I might just feel the timings right to look back and then I track how we come back together. Because you need to help people get flexibility around being in contact and then being autonomous and more on their own. And I think especially now during the pandemic because not everybody is lucky enough to have a securely attached partner or family going where they have that nice face to face yummy connection at home that helps them feel safer even in the midst of this constant invisible threat of a pandemic. I think the pandemic is like this underlying anxiety for the whole world. So certainly, therapists that are listening, and I know it’s true for me, we’re sensitive to that we feel that on some level, and there’s been some surveys, I know, Stephen Porges, just wrote about it. They interviewed like 1500 different practitioners. And one of the things they noticed in themselves was a quicker shift to defensive reactions. Like maybe you get a little snarky at home, or what you just feel your threat response comes more than you’re used to having it come. So, we can all check that for ourselves and our own experience. And then they also notice that for clients that have trauma, which of course your trauma doesn’t stop because the pandemic happened to happen, right, that people that have trauma, not only have that anxiety that’s coming from that kind of collective fear of illness and understandable reactions, even to the social justice issues that have come up, that are so important. But if they have trauma, then their trauma, whatever is not resolved or solidly integrated, gets amplified on top of it. So, it’s a challenging position for therapists and clients right now because of the extra trauma layering the global collective trauma, but that’s also triggering our individual unfinished business and any dysfunction is going to get amplified. I mean, if you have a really yummy family, which I hope everybody has, but I know they don’t, that gets amplified. I have friends that feel like they’re on this intimacy vacation, they’re deepening their relationship with their kids, their kids came home from college or having all this time with them, they normally wouldn’t have because the kids would be off with their friends, and they’re loving it. And I have other clients or friends that had fractures in their family life and there’s a lot of volatility and there’s abuse happening and then they it’s even hard to report abuse right now because you don’t even have privacy to call in for help your abuser standing behind you. If especially when we weren’t really allowed to go out much now. I think people are going out a little bit more and that could change by the time this is aired, maybe people will be out even more. But it’s a really challenging time.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 19:06
And I’m really appreciating the way you’re looking at the challenge and the opportunity at the same time. Because with zoom, and this is going back to what you said a few minutes ago, there’s this exercise if you look away, and it reminds me of the early attachment research situations, and watch these videos of the still face experiment, right, and the mom just looking and then the distress of the infant, and then how the infant tries to engage the mom and to be able to actually use the situation of zoom as an opportunity. It’s almost like built in, because it’s so visual, and maybe a little bit harder to work. I’m curious wanting to ask you in a few minutes about how to work with the body on zoom. But I think it’s a really important message for the health care providers and the therapists of how we actually take advantage of and sort of amplify the opportunity that zoom presents and A lot of people are living alone too. Right? So
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 20:03
I’m one of those people.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 20:05
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 20:06
I don’t even have a dog right now. My dog passed away. I see a few friends though. So yeah, and a lot of zoom.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 20:13
Yeah, yeah. So, there is this weird sort of opportunity and extreme challenge at the same time.
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 20:20
Yes. I’m hoping, I’m ever the optimist, but not that I don’t know about dark stuff because I have a ton of drama. I know I understand trauma really well, personally and professionally. But I’m hoping that as we shine a light, the pandemic kind of intensifies the focus on some of our social inequities. And I mean, obviously, about health care and racism. And there’s just so many working with indigenous populations. I’m doing a whole six months on COVID and practitioners on different topics because I feel like we need a lot of support and it’s everything from how to increase relational capacity online and also how to work with diverse groups and underrepresented groups and different symptoms that the health care providers are having things like moral injury that I don’t usually talk about and the bystander effect, I don’t usually there’s different things I’m bringing in that I think are relevant specifically to now. And then of course, they can be relevant at other times too. But it is a unique challenge. But I think the opportunities that could happen I know I’m doing this personally. I like taking in so much information through books and online courses and podcasts like this, which are so valuable to me personally, that I’m stretching my, I’m kind of addicted to learning. So, I do this in general. But this time has been really rich that way, I did kind of run away from home. I know, I told Willis I left for six weeks and just drove to COVID-safe parts of Colorado, the more remote parts of Colorado in the more remote parts of New Mexico. And I was sitting at a retreat center there 190 acres and I was like only one of three people there. And we were still wearing masks and doing safe practices, not all the time, but some of the time. And it was just a great place for me to meet some really interesting people and also to work on what can happen that can be helpful. I think 2D, thank goodness we have the internet and zoom, is a good thing. And a lot of therapists have found surprising to themselves that they can actually work online quite effectively. But I don’t think it’s the same as 3D. I think our attachment system and I talked to Stephen Porges about this, and he agrees it’s a great way of 2D. But 3D is so much better in terms of really getting that facial face to face connection, which we have on zoom. But in person, it still seems to help us shift our vagal nerve response and our physiology towards safety, even better when we’re actually feeling a person in their presence more directly. But this is great if we didn’t have this, the combination of all the things we do that physiologically we were designed to have in play to help us feel safe and regulate like, contact with safe others that people we trust, but we feel safe around in the field with them. We feel like we can be ourselves and be protected as well. There’s we practice things there’s you know, like they’re safe practices for the pandemic. They’re all very clear practices to enhance your attachment system. And so I am emphasizing that with therapists in my training about how to do that even online, because it’s even more important to do it when you’re doing it on a device versus sitting in two chairs across from each other.
Keith Kurlander 23:15
There’s so much going on right now in the world. I mean, there always is, but there’s a lot going on right now. It seems like there’s just a lot of things.
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 23:21
We definitely have some hot spots.
Keith Kurlander 23:22
We have some hot spots and they’re heightened. And I guess the question here is being an attachment expert, and you’ve just delved so deep into it, right? How you see the role of being able to achieve secure attachment functioning in a person’s life. How important is that? In order to be like a healthy functioning human being is this important thing to achieve in a person’s life to try and actually feel well and yourself?
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 23:48
I think there’s a lot of things important in life. And I also, you’re speaking to my passion, so I’m really amplifying this one, but I do feel like there’s reasons to do that. One of them is and you can look to Allan Schore and Dan Siegel on this too, is that the more we work our stuff, whatever it is, as a professional, our own personal stuff, and then as we help our clients work their stuff, which I think is really fabulous, the people in the world want to do that and have the courage to do it and do it. So, I always put a shout out to everybody doing this work, because it’s not always easy as we know. But the more we do our own work, or help our clients do their work, and they are able to shift and learn skills, we have a big emphasis on learning skills to help person move back towards secure attachment, if they didn’t start out by hitting the jackpot of having secure attachment as a kid and people do have that, you know, people do come have secure attachment from the get go for in some families. But what we do is we break down each challenge in attachment, insecure attachment, and then we create a skill that fits for the person and one of the ways we do that is by actually taking our clients through the adult attachment inventory that used to be used for research. They’ve given permission for us to use it clinically and it’s a wonderful tool clinically to kind of assess where specifically, especially if you’re working with an adult relationship, like couples work or something, where is the biggest challenge? And you can predict it without even using the labeling of this attachment style or that attachment style, you can just say, you know, I’m just kind of wondering, if you have a little trouble when there’s a lot of emotion happening and a discussion that you might feel like you just kind of went to retreat. And I wonder if we could focus on maybe that’s the time you actually could lean in and touch your partner on their forearm or some safe way and say I’m here for you, which would be really different than disconnecting completely. You can predict from the adult attachment inventory questions or my questionnaires on my website, there’s different ways you can get a sense of where your attachment system is sitting in different situations. That can be really helpful and giving concrete specific things that people can practice that will help them overcome their trauma because it’ll bring up any of the resistance to it will bring up the wound that needs to be worked with. So clinically, it’s very efficient. And then also it gives us specific practice so you’re not just feeling bad that you have this wound. I mean, oh, okay, when I get overwhelmed emotionally, I might need to say I need a timeout for five minutes, but I’m here for you and I’ll be back in 30 minutes, whatever it is, and then actually practice what happens when you lean in versus check out. And you can make these skill building things. There’s several of them, I could rattle off right now, but just depending on where you want to go with the interview, I think that’s really helpful. And the other thing is when you’ve done your work, and you’ve been able to create a cohesive narrative, that’s not full of gaps from dissociation, because that would indicate some incomplete areas. Or you’re not flooding somebody with words that they’re so lost in the flurry of words, the tsunami of words that they can’t really find. They can’t follow the thread, or there’s so few words you don’t really get a feeling for what’s happening. And these indicate different attachment-insecure attachment styles. That is one of the major markers for not passing on attachment patterning that’s one patterning to the next generation. We have the opportunity and the knowledge Right now, I mean, our parents didn’t have this knowledge. My parents, I’m 66. So I’m probably a generation ahead of you. But they didn’t have therapy as a resource, really, culturally, at least the United States wasn’t a normal thing to go to therapy. And there weren’t all these wonderful models, all this terrific research, there were some, and certainly there was psychiatry, but there wasn’t a more normalized thing like it certainly is in Boulder, Colorado, right? I mean, we have this orientation to spiritual growth and personal growth, probably why live here, and you do too. But we have the benefit and this generation, these generations, we’re now to really take all this knowledge and use it in a way that can be incredibly healing. And I love it that it addresses intergenerational trauma, because that’s a big one. We sometimes are working on stuff we didn’t even have happen to us in this lifetime.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 27:49
Yeah, we recently had Rachel Yehuda, as a guest on the show. Her intergenerational work is really remarkable. I’d love to hear one example of what you were just talking about in terms of these very specific interventions that you can do with a person or with a couple that would support. Like, for example, let’s take the exaggerated startle response or one thing that commonly happens in relationships that you have an exercise, maybe that would help them put them in touch with that moment.
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 28:21
Well, one of the things that first of all, there’s this interesting situation that I’m sure you’ve had clients that I didn’t know the language around this so I’m going to share this something I actually learned from Stan Tatkin, he does the PACT work that when you get within like four to six feet of a person that you’re in a relationship with, you may have when you were first attracted them, you might have loved the sound of their voice, you couldn’t wait to hear it on your phone or hear their answering machine. You love the way they smell, the way they touch felt really yummy. You couldn’t wait to hold them. You like the way they looked and everything. all your senses were like in attraction mode. When the attachment system starts to get challenged, which it does in relationships, I mean, you know, relationships, they’re challenging for most people, you know, there’s a lot to work out a lot of times in the beginning, and that’s part of the value of them too. But what’s helpful is if people understand each other compassionately, and one of the things that will happen is the near senses go off. So, all of a sudden, you don’t like the way they smell, you don’t like the sound of their voice, you want to run out the door, you don’t want to touch them, you feel like withdrawn that way. You don’t like the way they look, all of a sudden, you’re just kind of dissatisfied on all these levels. So, it is when you hear that a lot of times people then move towards separation. Sometimes separation needs to happen. But what could happen as at least an intermediate step is to really work on the attachment bond, because that’s an indication the attachment bond is not in a good place. And I think what I love about somatic experiencing, the trauma work and also about the dare work, that’s my name of it, it’s called dynamic attachment repatterning experience because it’s very experiential, because everything I do is pretty much experiential, besides a little bit of education. But you’re trying to help people understand that these are biological, physiological systems that we have, and that very often, especially with attachment, a lot of times our early relational template got formed when we were infants in utero and very early. Our relationship template about what we expect or what we think is happening or how we’re interpreting our relational environment often goes back to this very original early relational template that has happened between our caregivers or the mothering presence, which could be dad or grandma or a sibling, or mom. And when people start to understand that they start to take things less personally. And it’s hard when you’re in a relationship and somebody’s stepping on your wound, to not take it personally. But one of the practices and one of the things we really talk about a lot is how so much of this is coming in from an earlier time. And some research says like, up to 95% of it’s coming from an earlier time. Other research says very little of it’s coming up so I just figure split the difference if 50% but you were being influenced by earlier times, it’s a good idea to do some attachment healing and it mitigates so much unnecessary suffering. And also, if you’re the partner, you’re not shouldering all that blame that might be getting thrown on you, but from the other person or vice versa, which also is really damaging. We could get rid of a lot of shaming and a lot of blaming, when people really understand attachment, and then they know what to do about it. So, for instance, one of the things that gets challenged, especially when we’re busy and double career families, and all that is comings and goings, I had a couple that I worked with in Denmark many years ago now. And they were both in my training and they said they were not getting along. We’re just we love each other. We totally love each other, but we’re just not connecting. And I said, would you do something with us about it? And I said, Well, sure. So, I asked them what happens when they come home from work at night. And so, the wife would say, Well, I’m busy cooking, and I’m trying to help the kids with their homework and I’m feeding the dog and he comes in and I pick up the garbage. She immediately asked him and he said, when he would get to the front door, he’d start to kind of shake because he didn’t know what he was going to walk into, you know. So that’s a pretty obvious place to start right? So, I had them do it. I said, Okay, I want you to just think about it like this, first of all your relationships have major priority. So if you can kind of put the dogs and the cooking, turn the stove off, or, you know, let the kids find a landing space and when you know he’s coming or you hear him come up the steps or whatever, drop everything and then meet him and then when he comes in he’s not immediately going to check his phone or take out the garbage. He’s there completely for you. So when you come back together from a separation, to really emphasize coming together, and doing not a triangle hug, doing a full bodied chest and belly with your intimate partner right, or full belly hug, and that you stay in that hug until you feel each other’s body regulate the other body so you start to feel physiologically regulated. So, it might be like a minute or two. People think this is long when they actually do it, but it makes a world of difference. And when I had these people do this, it was like a demo and a training. They stayed in this embrace until they could feel this regulation happen. Standard And also talks about this welcome home hug. And so then if your partner is having a headache, so let’s say the woman is having a headache, so the man or maybe another woman does matter would put their hand on their head to try to regulate them through the opposite partner’s body. And so, like if the other person has low back pain, the partner would put their hand there to try to regulate the back pain. So, you’re doing a strong dose of CO regulation. And our bodies are wired, not always but a good part of the time, we really find our sense of safety and calmness and regulation, through co regulation. And some people started out with a lot of neglect, like avoidant attachment folks sometimes have had or experienced their nervous system never really learned how to co regulate. And so, in therapy, we then have to teach them by giving them exercises around co regulation to bring that function back because otherwise, they’re way more comfortable by themselves, and they miss the yumminess and the nourishment of a good relationship. And they may even have a partner that’s willing for it, but they don’t find it in their own facility. ology, to want that or they feel like something bad will happen if they go into co regulation. So, we have to help that shift. Another example of just having patterns about how you go to bed. These are simple things. This is true for your kids too. But let’s focus on partners. I have two colleagues that are friends of mine, that they have this ritual of, even if they go to bed at a different time, they both love chocolates. So, back when you could go out and shop a lot, they would have a very unique truffle every night and they would debrief their day and everything that was going on in the relationship while they were eating this gift of a truffle to each other. So, these little sayings, they’re not undoable, they’re very doable, but they make a gigantic difference of having rituals around, coming together and then going apart and sleeping and then how do you get up in the morning come together? How do you come back from work and come together in a full body co regulation thing? These are things that people can do, they may have some discomfort in the beginning, but most of the time in my experience, they can get over that quite readily. I had a client actually. She’s now an assistant in our training, she remarried her divorce Husband once she understood his attachment style, and had been 10 years, they got back together because that she understood instead of taking it personally, that’s huge. Think about that. How big that
Keith Kurlander 35:11
It’s a cool story. Related to that I’m curious about, so someone’s listening and the common thing is like, people don’t know what’s going on in their relationship. They just know it’s off. They know they’re struggling; they’ve got kind of some context of it’s about this fight. It’s about this fight that we keep happening.
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 35:29
I’m going to interrupt for just a second. It’s almost never about what they’re talking about in their fight.
Keith Kurlander 35:34
Right. But often, if they’re a little savvier, they’re also going, wait, is this an attachment issue that I need to work on from the past? Or is there something really going on here that this isn’t the right person, right? And so I guess what I’m wondering is, do you have kind of a series of questions or ways for people to think about, am I dealing with attachment issue in myself that I need to work through and it’s good to hang in here or maybe something else is going on here and it’s not about a lifelong attachment show I have? How do you help a person get to that in themselves?
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 36:05
Well, I think knowing when to leave, or knowing when to stay is one of the toughest decisions. But I do think that too many separations and divorces happen because people don’t know things that they could be doing. I think there’s ignorance about it. And we skip to separation, we move to that direction sometimes I think too fast. But from an attachment point of view, I think like taking this attachment quiz that’s free on my website, I made it free. So, people could say he took it, it’s just helpful to get an idea of like, what, okay, this might be coming from me. I mean, it’s hard for us to see our part, partly because attachment gets encoded in our brain and our nervous system, in our body and our ligaments and our muscles and all of us. So early that it lives in an implicit memory, which means basically not conscious yet memory. So one of the things that working with someone is that we have to exercise that kind of trigger and excavate implicit memory to explicit memory so people start to have some curiosity and also can own their side of the attachment situation. And if you’re doing couples therapy, you can do this in the presence of the other person if they’re not hostile to each other, and they’re compassionate with each other. And then you can compassionately understand what’s going on for your partner. And then this not taking it so personally mitigates so much of the other stuff. And I also really like Marshall Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication for couples too. I think I use that as well, because I think people like really understanding what their needs are, and addressing them in a non-demanding way is helpful. But back to attachment. So, one of the things is really helping people learn how to play together. Play is a really big component of secure attachment, being able to play sometimes we play on our own, but if we can start it for the relationship, we can also find some play connection together, being protective of ourselves, even in the relationship like being protective of I’m protecting myself when I’m having a conflict but I’m also feeling like I want to make sure I’m leaving my partner in a respected and dignified way that they aren’t losing their dignity. I’m not attacking them. In that way, I’m protective of them. And then I’m protective of the relationship, in the relationship coupledom or bubble situation from the outside world. So, I think, really understanding how to do that, because some couples, they don’t have good boundaries, and they hurt their relationship. I also have kind of a pet peeve on friends, how they support or don’t support a couple’s relationship, because sometimes friends have the idea. Oh, yeah, he’s an asshole or Oh, yeah, you should dump that woman because she’s bah, bah, bah. I don’t think that’s helpful. I think it’s really good when you have a friend come to you to complain or to share about what’s going on in the relationship that you try to support what the relationship together, possibilities what they could do that could be helpful. And not think you’re being a good friend by trashing the other person. I think that’s a social context thing that’s really damaging, because we’re influenced by our friends in a deep way, or family, and teaching friends and family how to support you and your relationships is really important. And then there’s all these practices I mean, there’s so many things that you can do to at least try out before you leave. If you’ve already put several years in or you’re pretty invested emotionally, you have children together, I think it’s a useful step if people are willing to do it, there has to be a willingness, obviously, and sometimes it is just not something. I mean, there’s deal breakers, like one person wants to have kids and one person doesn’t or one person wants to live in a different place and the other person doesn’t, or certain financial things that might happen that just get in the way. So, it is a very individual decision. And I just feel like that’s the attachment understanding and also because it’s so healing for trauma, that people can come into more nourishing relationships, which I think we all deserve and need as a human being. Most of us, I mean, maybe not every single person but a large percentage of us are designed with social brains and a desire to connect to someone that’s meaningful to us. And I think I’d like to stack all the cards I can in that person’s favor or that couples favor that families favor. You
Keith Kurlander 40:01
Something interesting popped in my brain. So, I want to ask it. It’s the conversation of sort of monogamy versus polyamory and then getting into this whole conversation of attachment. There’s a lot of both going on. And I think it’s, there’s just, there’s flexibility there. And I’m just very curious about what you’re seeing when you see people with sort of different views on, I’m going to stay with this one person, and then I’m not going to be outside of the relationship or I’m going to be with 10 people. How does that impact that attachment conversation?
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 40:38
Well, it’s a really interesting perspective. I just read a book on polyamory and attachment recently, I can’t remember the title of it right now. Certainly, there’s consenting adults. And so, some people when they think of polyamory, they think Well, okay, you know, parents have more than one kid. They have relationships maybe with five children. So, love can be going in many different directions and I think we are loving by our love, can be big. I think some of those same attachment issues probably would need to be addressed with each dyad. I mean, because different people stimulate different attachment reactions. If someone is not very available, and it might push you into being somewhat ambivalent, and then having a lot of anxiety about the lack of availability, but for somebody else, they might understand that and it might not be an issue at all. When I talked to some of my colleagues that really specialize in couples’ work. One of them. Ellen Bader runs the couple’s Institute out of Menlo Park in San Francisco. She was saying that she wasn’t sure about how it would work with polyamory in the beginning, either but when she’s been working with polyamorous couples, she said, it’s really interesting, the ones that are working, they have such a high level of commitment and also conversation and they have this way of articulating and working through really complex issues, that she was quite impressed by their capacity. So, I think it’s obviously an individual choice. And for other people, they think, Oh my gosh, it’s the worst idea ever. I’m having enough trouble just managing one other person. I don’t know how I would do it, especially with the sexual jealousy and all these bring up a lot of different issues. I think it has a lot to do with how you want your lifestyle to be. And if you find partners that you feel like you can work deeply on some of these issues, I don’t know that it would happen. I haven’t had enough exposure to it to know that it just from the get go works really well. I imagine there is some deep process that people have to go through to, to work that way. But attachment systems have been mostly referred to and researched dyadic Lee, and actually, we need to understand that a lot of the attachment research was done in the 50s. And that was where we usually stayed at home moms and the United States anyway, and went to work dads. So, most of the research was mom and child. There wasn’t even much research on dad and child. So, there’s kind of a it seems to me a little bit of a stronger focus on mothers and children. And of course, fathers have a huge role and are super important and sometimes fathers are more of the mothering more of the consistent caregiver than the mother is. So, it’s just I think partly influenced by the research we have, and I think we are with so many things with gender identity and working with these really important areas, we’re learning and evolving in new directions. And I’m not pro or against anything, I just want people to experience growth and transformation, and they’re able to have the nourishment in their relationships, because I think finding nourishment and meaning in your work is a huge accomplishment. But I think finding it in a relationship is almost double that or why it’s bigger because there’s I think it’s more complicated than even what we find challenging at work in some ways.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 43:33
That’s certainly true for me. Work is simpler and more straightforward than a relationship.
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 43:38
And even though we’re working highly relationally, right? It’s true for me, too. It’s like we’re working with really heavy stuff and meeting people in really dark places and staying present. And I know, we all have a spiritual orientation too that we’re drawn and it really enriches us and supports us, but it’s like, then you take it to the personal level. It’s like, okay, little immaturity showed up there. What’s that about? But now, when I find myself falling short, whether it’s and I do you know, when it’s a deep friendship or you know, when I’m in a relationship, I have more places to try to understand it. And I think you find this true as well, when you find the truth. And sometimes that happens, you’re in a blind spot, it takes a while to, like, peel off all the obscurations till you could get to a personal truth about something. But you kind of know when you get there or you have a piece of it, there’s something nourishing and supportive in truth, even if it’s a terrible truth. It’s just that it’s true. And there’s something about that and I’m sort of a truth junkie, I mean, I want to for myself, I’ve been going okay, I’m really mad at this person. And I have all my reasons, you know, the list and everything. And then a part of me is going Okay, great. You’re whatever, they did all these things, but let’s get off of that and what’s going on for you that you have such a reaction to this, and then I start doing that more and more, just obviously, I’m going to get to my personal truth a lot I don’t know in a more authentic way than if I just stay in the position of blaming this person who might have done something that was egregious, but even if they did, I still feel I have to figure that out. Like what’s going on for me. I recently had something, a person that I felt had really rejected me, and they kind of did. And it was I mean, objectively true. And I didn’t respond so well to it. But when I really went into it deeply, I realized I had an issue that kept unfolding about self-love. And then I started waking up. And just feeling this love, self-love that included me. I mean, I felt loved before, but it was more of a personal love for Diane, which was something I hadn’t realized I had. I didn’t grow up in a particularly loving context. But this was actually a gift down the road. I didn’t feel like it was a gift at the time it happened but it’s a gift now because it led me to that realization and now, I’m having these just solicited love things happening. I’m also having a lot of sorrow happening because I think I’m tapping into the collective trauma a lot. I feel this like my heart stays open. And I feel the love also, I feel this grief for what so many people are struggling with the pandemic. And so just I mean, you know, we could list them there, it’s just in our face in such a strong way. And I’ve been studying the history of racism and the history of what happened with the indigenous people in a in depth way. And I just feel it so strongly. And I know that’s the stage because eventually you have to move beyond the emotionality of it, but it is deeply impacting me at the moment. But I think that’s the challenge of staying open hearted and not shutting down. And sometimes you have to disconnect a little bit for self-care, but I think that’s a really important practice for me right now.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 46:39
Same here. I mean, for me, it’s really important to take that opportunity and not rush to resolution and to just really sit with the grief and the pain of the way important people in our society have been treated for. I’m really studying this right now. And it’s incredibly humbling to look at the depth of my own blind spots and really to take responsibility for my own privilege and just how unconscious it’s been. And so there’s a part of me that wants to rush to Okay, well, now what can I do about it and really kind of pumping the brakes and staying with let’s stay with the feeling here, which I learned in my se training.
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 47:24
Way back then we were doing that. Yeah, I’m in the same thing. I of course like to move into action. But I realized that’s not appropriate, most important thing I can do now besides study, and become aware, which I think is important, and have conversations that aren’t so comfortable that I appreciate when those happen actually is just trying to let my heart guide and let my eye keep collecting awareness. I heard somebody describe it as the kaleidoscope of consciousness. And I love that because when you think about the kaleidoscope, right, you could be looking through it and just keep it fixed like not move it. So, it’s just rigid and static and you keep saying the same Picture, or you can move it a little bit and your viewpoint can merge a little bit with somebody else’s. Or you can move it a lot and try to encompass more. And I think that’s a great metaphor for me right now, hopefully, it’s helpful for other people, just in how to approach this because I’m collecting, I’m just putting myself in so many situations where it’s not just my tribe, where my viewpoints are mirrored, I’m in a lot of situations where I’m in other part of things. And I’m trying to really stay open and listen without moving to polarization. And that was a very helpful practice for me just to be like, Oh, I get it, that I can understand the other person’s perspective. And I’m not judging, I’m in a different space. It’s an interesting challenge.
Keith Kurlander 48:39
It seems like too, with this recent wave of racism, and awareness of racism is really also the recent wave. I don’t know that. I mean, racism has been going on intensely in this country forever. Yeah. And so, it also seems like it’s the opportunity right now as mental health care providers, how do we reshape the landscape with providers, awareness, and what can we do right now to help be a part of the solution? I’m sure you’re wrestling with this, as we are right now. And I’m just wondering if you’ve come up with anything yet or you’re right now you’re spending more of a period of digesting?
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 49:23
Well, two different things are going on. We just did last year about this time, maybe a little later in the year we did a training in Chicago and we had a real emphasis on the regular training, but also went around with lots of different organizations of all different types of groups, and kind of invited people from all different ways of life. We had indigenous people there. We had African Americans there. We had Asian people there. We had transgendered people. They had different gender identities there. And I loved that but I don’t know how to always facilitate that. She did a lot of the legwork on that, by the way she approached working to have the training happen. But it taught me a lot. And it’s not just that we include other people or we give people scholarships or whatever. There’s a lot more to it than really understanding what a person is struggling with. So, I did a lot of demos with people from different groups. And that was really helpful to me because some of the things that I would suggest even the things I suggested on this call might not really fit for an indigenous person, right? Therapy looks really different. I mean, they do things much more tribally, one of the young women that was there, and I just love her. She is the daughter of two of the indigenous peoples in Canada. They were making birch tree canoes and birch tree different things and things to hold the babies and she said that when she brought the tribe together, and her parents came and she came and they did this kind of art workshop, doing all the original indigenous activities, people just flourish, they were so filled with joy, and that was a deep healing experience. Very different, right than what we would think of as therapy but that was therapy way more than like sitting with one person. having a chat. And so I think just being sensitized to that and like reading a lot of books about how treatment is happening in different areas, I talked to a woman who is working with the tribal police, and also is a therapist for tribal and she said, you know, the thing is, you might have an appointment at nine o’clock, but they can’t get there from the reservation or wherever they are until somebody that has a truck is going to town. So then everybody piles in the truck and they do the grocery shopping, somebody goes to therapy, somebody goes to the doctor, somebody does whatever, and you show up when the truck goes, you can’t really have Let’s meet at nine o’clock. It’s not practical. So, there’s just a lot of things that we aren’t able to be aware of until we’re either directly interfacing. So, I’ve been interviewing ministers and different people that work with indigenous and also indigenous people themselves. And I go to Mexico for two months, every year. There are 14 different indigenous tribes there and I talk to anthropologists. I mean, I’m endlessly curious about this and trying to understand it, kind of from a human journey perspective. So, I’ve been on this kind of thought leader call that I’ve been My friend Francesca Maxine put together. So, a lot of people that have training and things are coming together and kind of how do we hold this? And some of them are different gender identity, folks and different racial groups are represented in that group. And even in that group, it’s hard to come up with like, how do we integrate this into a model? I don’t know. I do know being aware of it, naming it and training. And learning more and more about it is really important. So, I often get invited to keynote or to present at conferences. So, most people like to fly in and fly out, I stay and I go to every workshop that has something about diversity, or something about gender or something about something outside my area, because I’m really trying to make my understanding bigger and it has been so helpful, especially like I did Patti dies. And Victor Lee Lewis’s online training on racism was very good. And of course, Resmaa Menakem with his book “On my grandmother’s hands”, because it’s really somatically focused, and I’ve been hanging out with even the police chaplain for the Santa Fe police. He’s trying to create what he calls Tactical compassion for the police to force them to meet whoever they meet as a dignified other person to see that person as a human being, which sounds normal, but really brings that into the police force. There’s lots of conversations and he goes to really tough stuff. There’s a lot of trauma that these guys go through too, but they have not had any incidents of unwarranted police brutality or anything. He’s now becoming a bishop. He’s getting acknowledged as a bishop in his thing, but he was also a police officer for several years, and he was a US Marshal for 10 years and he was a Greenbrae. And he used to go work in Columbia, trying to mitigate political abductions. I mean, this guy is a warrior, like a warrior’s warrior, but he’s also a spiritual warrior. So, like, I’m trying to like talk to all different facets of what’s going on. I talk to therapists that are helping people that are stuck at the border on immigration. So, I’m just trying as much as I can, unfortunately, like you, you have the podcast platform, and I have my teaching online. I have a platform that I can also share it in a bigger way like we’re doing right now. That’s kind of I don’t know, the love in my life. life right now is being able to have those conversations and learn more and expand. But I don’t know that answer.
Keith Kurlander 54:07
Yeah. I mean, I think that was a good answer for now. Right? It’s an ongoing conversation and one curious for the providers in the audience, how would they find more about your work? Well, maybe just tell them what you’re up to right now what you want to highlight for them.
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 54:21
Okay. My website is www.dianepooleheller.com. And we have all sorts of that. We’re trying to really create a lot of resources and I don’t have a focus on just my work. I try to highlight anybody’s work that I feel is life affirming and effective. And so, we have quite a support for many people’s models and many people’s perspectives. We have a lot of expert interviews in all of our courses, but we do online training, I do an online attachment mastery program that starts out with what’s the early patterning and then it moves into how does that infiltrate into our adult lives and level two and level three, actually the end of August or Now we’re doing neurobiology of loving relationships, really understanding how narrative gets formed, our way of using language happens at the same time as our attachment patterning is happening. So very often you can get a feeling for somebody’s attachment style by how they actually speak, and why that’s happening neurologically, and how we can help that also, and we also talk about the polyvagal work of Stephen Porges. And how we can use that clinically, that’s a really strong focus of mine. And then there’s a lot of neurobiology that we could go into everything from mirroring to prefrontal cortex to how the nervous system manages trauma and threat, as well as the vagus nerve just trying to help people understand the physiology and why it’s important and then how to clinicalize it everything with me is how to clinicalize it like how do you make it practical, like I like it when people can get off a call and use something right away with their clients. And then the fourth one is really tough. One is working with disorganized attachment and victim perpetrator dynamics where there’s so much of the threat responses intermingled with the attachment system and wreaking havoc, and how do you work with trauma and attachment at the same time and untangle it and help People move into secure attachment more and also resolve their trauma, whatever that happens to be. One thing I just feel like I need to say is, I think in therapy, we need context for the lay of the land. But sometimes we get so content focused, we miss a lot of opportunities to work in the present moment with the relational field or with what’s happening physiologically, or somatically, with someone as they’re talking about something that happened to them. And actually, the healing I think really happens in the present moment. And people often have gotten used to telling their story and couples do this a lot. They have the same fight over and over again. And you’ve just got to like stop that, not go there and bring it to the present moment and start to use some of these skills and attachment trauma work that really lead to healing and it doesn’t have a lot to do with he said she said, it has a lot more to do with processing it in a way that really integrates and people move forward. And then we also have a therapy mastermind circle where we do a clinically organized topic, we usually do it in six months segments. So, these six months, I’m working on COVID you come into this program anytime. It’s a membership site and we keep it inexpensive. It’s only $67 a month for like four to five hours of new content every month that you can pick and choose what you want. Or if you have a lot of time do all of it. And it includes like client demos where you’re actually seeing me or sometimes a colleague working with a client related to the topic. And we’re not just talking about how to do it, you’re actually seeing it. And I think seeing videos of people working is really valuable. And I don’t think that we have that opportunity enough in our field. Of course, you have to have the right confidentiality and because we’re not doing a psychological striptease in our sessions, we’re really working somatically. And working with the relational field, people are usually happy to share their work and of course, that’s up to them. And then that involves expert calls on people that are related to the topic. The next one coming up is intergenerational trauma, which I’m really passionate about and I’ve had so many experiences of people having things come into the session that doesn’t belong to their life but did belong to to an ancestor and how to work it through their body to help free the ancestor but also free them from that intergenerational trauma. We have a free summit coming up. That starts September 30. through October 7, eight different experts including Peter Levine and Richard Schwartz with IFS and Rick Hansen. Everybody’s familiar with Rick with his neuroscience perspective on trauma and Lisa Firenze, who runs the trauma Institute at Washington DC. And lots of people Dini lately, Otis is going to talk to us about COVID and EMDR. She actually got COVID when we were trying to do this filming. So she has a very good sense of how to move through it and also to help clients around that if you get it or if they get it. And anyway, there’s eight people and we offer that for free. You can do a little upgrade if you want to buy it forever, but it’s offered for free. It’s kind of our way to pay it for everything we do every year. So that’ll be September 30. And we’re doing a live training on the neurobiology of loving relationships August 27 to 29th if that’s relevant timing and can contact us really with any questions just write in [email protected]. We have a free attachment quiz on the website, which is at www.dianepooleheller.com that anybody can take and make sure you take it when you think about yourself. When you’re a little stressed or a little tired or a little sick, so you’re more in your default position with attachment, and you just focus on one relationship at a time, because you might have a very different attachment reaction to mom versus dad, because they might have very different attachment systems, they’re interacting with you if and it makes a difference when the answer the questionnaire will be more accurate. And we also have live free videos on attachment that you can just put your phone number in on your cell phone, and you’ll get every couple days and we can give you that in the notes. With that they’ll provide on the website related to the podcast,
Keith Kurlander 59:31
We end similarly now every time it’s a we’d love to ask this question, which is if there’s a billboard that every human being would see once in their life, and it has a paragraph on it, what would you want to share? What kind of wisdom would you want them to know in that paragraph?
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 59:46
That healing is possible and attachment as well as trauma has so many untapped advantages that we can move from our history into our present in a very different way. We can totally learn secure attachment, at least for most of what we’re dealing with, maybe not every single thing. But it’s, I think, a very hopeful message. And I just wish we could have everybody understand that around the world.
Keith Kurlander 1:00:14
Beautiful. Thanks, Diane, for being on the show.
Dr. Diane Poole Heller 1:00:16
Oh, it’s been my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Keith Kurlander 1:00:23
I just want to thank Diane again, for all her work and devotion to attachment science and trauma healing. And, really, as an educator, it’s always impactful for me to see certain educators out there getting a message out that so many people on this planet needs to hear and I think the message about how to attach in a healthy way and what happens when we don’t? I think that message is really becoming just a base cumin principle of something that we need to understand. And I also want to thank her too, just for her the intention she set in working with racism and what’s happening right now. And, you know, to me that was a very important aspect of the conversation with her. And that, you know, she’s out there really working hard at trying to help people really feel good inside themselves. And for me, a big takeaway to you is just about I have a two year old daughter so it’s always helpful for me, and I’m sure many of you who are parents out there, getting some tips and tricks of, you know, how we would just raise healthy young people right now with the challenges around us and so I feel like I took a couple big tips there. I’m sure you did. Also, if you really enjoyed this episode and this podcast, please go leave a review right now. It’s pretty easy to do if you’re, you’re, if you’re on Apple podcast, just go into the podcast itself at the highest level and you scroll to the bottom and you’ll see where it will be for review. That’s the way we really get the word out and get this information out, is by people like you simply leaving a review or sharing this episode right now at somebody sending it off to someone. And that’s the greatest way we can, together as a community right now be sharing information. And if you want to send us your email, so we can send you really valuable information in the ongoing manner around optimal mental health. Just go to email.psychiatryinstitute.com and you can leave your email address there. We look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of The Higher Practice Podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health.