„The spontaneous movement in all of us aims at connection. Regardless of how withdrawn and isolated we have become, and regardless of the severity of the trauma we have experienced, just as the plant spontaneously moves toward the sun, there is an impulse in each of us toward connection with ourselves and with others.“
NARM (Neuro-affective Relational Model) is a body-oriented psychotherapy approach developed by Dr. Laurence Heller to resolve developmental, relational, and attachment trauma. It focuses on the resolution of childhood survival strategies that are now affecting nervous system self-regulation, self-image, and the ability to contact self and others in adulthood.
Dr. Heller identifies five core resources that correspond to various developmental psychological life themes. These core needs are:
If these basic needs were met by the parents at the appropriate stage of life (from conception to puberty), they are available as resources in adulthood. If these needs could not be met, the child develops survival strategies that were a reasonable adaptation at the time. In adulthood, however, these survival strategies lead to difficulties in self-regulation and to limitations in self-perception and the ability to relate. Further symptoms can be shame and guilt, lack of self-awareness, lack of body awareness, alienation, lack of feeling alive or psychosomatic symptoms.
In therapy, one’s own survival strategies can be recognized and it can be clearly seen that these are no longer necessary today. Strengths and abilities that were not impaired by the trauma are discovered and can lead again to more ability to act.
Through mindful self-observation, the ability to regulate the nervous system can be strengthened, for exemple in cases of hyperactivation or a feeling of numbness. This can also help with psychosomatic symptoms resulting from traumatic experiences. In the therapeutic relationship, clients can practice being in contact with themselves and the other at the same time, feeling emotions, expressing needs, and setting boundaries. The method can also strengthen resilience, which means successfully coping with future challenges.
Through therapy, clients can regain access to the five core resources and find wholeness within themselves and others in the present.
Dr. Heller describes the skills associated with core resources as follows:
Contact: We have a sense of belonging in this world. We are in touch with our bodies and feelings and are capable of stable relationships with others.
Needs: We know what we need and are able to reach out to others when we need their care and other nurturing from them. We are able to enjoy the rich abundance of life.
Confidence: We have an inherent confidence in ourselves and trust in others. We feel secure enough to allow and rely on healthy interdependent relationships with others.
Autonomy: We can say no and set clear boundaries with others. We say what we think without being plagued by guilt or fear.
Love: Our hearts are open and we are able to live loving relationships and healthy sexuality.
To the extent that these five basic needs are met, we remain in flow and in good contact with ourselves. We approach our environment with a sense of security and with confidence. We have the feeling of being in balance internally and experience a certain expansion.