Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Treatment of Trauma and Attachment

Ame Cutler

Ame Cutler, PhD

May 6, 2017

Chairs

Wendy Fischer, MSW
Judy Marx, PhD

Ame Cutler, PhD, is a psychologist specializing in the field of transgenerational trauma. She is on the faculty of Pat Ogden’s Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, is certified in the Hakomi method, and brings years of experience in a variety of body-oriented modalities to her teaching and clinical work. She lectures internationally and maintains a private practice with individuals, couples, and groups in San Francisco, California. In working with those who suffer the aftermath of relational trauma, she combines interests in somatic psychology and mindfulness to assist them in building a safer relationship with their own bodies.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, developed by Pat Ogden, provides a framework that integrates all three realms of experience – somatic, cognitive and emotional. This body-oriented approach emphasizes the critical importance of the somatic dimension when trying to reach memories that are encoded only as sensory fragments or physical patterns that have developed over time in response to traumatic experience and attachment failure. By recognizing these physical manifestations, interventions can be formulated to facilitate the development of new adaptive actions. These alterations in patients’ body responses increase affect regulation and promote integration of the past, thus reducing the impact of trauma and attachment deficits on patients’ current realities. Cutler will present a practical overview of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and its theories and techniques for working with the body. Drawing on Polyvagal Theory, structural dissociation, attachment, affect regulation theory, and principles of interpersonal neurobiology, this model integrates the key concepts of the Institute on Embodying the Unspoken Self. Through lecture, video, and brief experiential exercises, she will introduce interventions for working with gestures, movements and postures that reflect and sustain the deleterious effects of the past.

Learning Objectives

Through participating in this workshop — the presentations, experiential exercises, and discussions – participants will be able to:

  1. Explain procedural learning and its effect on affect dysregulation, emotions, and the body in relation to trauma and attachment failures.
  2. Discuss the role of the body in trauma and attachment treatment.
  3. Describe somatic interventions for working at the regulatory boundaries of the window of affect tolerance.
  4. Highlight the use of embedded relational mindfulness to enhance affect regulation and allow patients to address past traumatic events and attachment failures without becoming dysregulated.
  5. Apply simple somatic interventions to facilitate patients’ resolution of past traumatic injuries and attachment failures.