Polyvagal Theory

Introduction for Somatic Psychotherapy


  • Vincentia Schroeter




polyvagal, neuroception, autonomic nervous system, sympathetic, social engagement system, vagal brake, portals


This paper introduces polyvagal theory (1995) as defined by its originator, Stephen Porges, for the benefit of somatic, body-oriented, clinical psychotherapists. While there has been a recent explosion of interest in integrating this psychophysiological theory within various fields, some of the references to and explanation of the material can be difficult to grasp. The goal of this paper is to provide a clear explication of this theory. The main tenets of polyvagal theory will be presented including neuroception, the old and new view of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), normal and stress functions of the ANS, and trauma and attachment from a polyvagal point of view. Case material will illustrate somatic relational techniques from an ANS lens. The use of anatomical portals to contact or promote shifts will be provided.

Author Biography

Vincentia Schroeter

Vincentia Schroeter, PhD, is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Escondido, California and on the teaching faculty of the Southern California Institute of Bioenergetic Analysis (SCIBA). She is a member of the IIBA faculty, chief editor of the IIBA journal and co-author with Barbara Thomson of the Bioenergetics techniques manual, Bend Into Shape.
009-040 36062


How to Cite

Schroeter, V. (2016). Polyvagal Theory: Introduction for Somatic Psychotherapy. Bioenergetic Analysis, 26(1), 9–40. https://doi.org/10.30820/0743-4804-2016-26-9