The NeuroAffective Relational Model™

Dr. Laurence Heller has developed this comprehensive healing model for working with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, otherwise known as Developmental Trauma. This means situations and events that occurred early in life, even before birth, that have profoundly affected a person’s relationship with themelves, others, and their world. The focus of NARM is not so much what happened in the past, but how old survival patterns are kept going in the present. These patterns tend to keep people locked into helplessness and disconnection.

Dr. Heller’s book, co-written with Dr. Aline LaPierre, is called Healing Developmental Trauma. It integrates both biological and psychodynamic development and allows the exploration of not only thinking and feeling, but the whole felt sense of the body. Through this kind of whole-person processing a rich world of potential healing unfolds. Only using cognitive skills, or relying solely on sensation, is like trying to row a boat with one oar. You can make progress, but not necessarily in the desired direction.

The NARM way of working is not about using certain techniques, but is rather more about deeply exploring the present moment and its potential to resolve distortions from the past. When our environments fail to nurture and protect us, we develop all sorts of ways to make it through until such time as we have the safety and resources to move beyond survival.

A profound aspect of this model is the way in which it allows us to understand the inner dilemmas that keep people stuck in the same patterns. Likewise it helps to recognize how very hard people can be on themselves; this is a source of great pain for many. I have found NARM to be deeply helpful and deeply hopeful in my practice.

If you are interested in learning more about NARM in your clinical practice or organizational setting, you are welcome to contact me. NARM trainings are currently offered throughout the US for experienced psychotherapists and other clinicians.