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Interview with The Trauma Therapist Project

Trauma Therapist Podcast episode cover

Jan began her career as social worker and psychotherapist 40 years ago. She began listening with non-pathologizing ears and heard shocking stories of sexual torture, and responses that confused her.

 Women were cutting themselves, bingeing and purging huge quantities of food, and abusing drugs and alcohol. As she listened she learned that somehow these self-harming behaviors were “helping” individuals to escape intolerable emotional states. They were shifting their mood from flooding anxiety to numbing deadness, or vice versa.

Because these behaviors were so helpful they were compulsively repeated and often became addictions.

Jan’s book Treating Trauma and Addiction with The Felt Sense Polyvagal Model: A Bottom Up Approach is the result of rethinking the Felt Sense Experience Model that she wrote about in her book, Emerging Practice in Focusing- Oriented Psychotherapy, 2014. Jan’s integrated the Polyvagal lens Theory to create a more sophisticated way of understanding emotional regulation, where addictive behaviour is an embodied response to emotional dysregulation.

 Links In This Episode

Episode 564: We’ve forgotten that we live in our bodies with Jan Winhall, MSW

Jan Winhall, M.S.W.  P.I.F.O.T. is an author, teacher and seasoned trauma and addiction psychotherapist. She is an Educational Partner and Course Developer with the Polyvagal Institute where she offers a training program based on her book Treating Trauma and Addiction with the Felt Sense Polyvagal Model, Routledge 2021. Completion of four levels leads students to become Felt Sense Polyvagal Model Facilitators. Her new book, 20 Embodied Practices for Healing Trauma and Addiction with the Felt Sense Polyvagal Model, will be published by Norton to be available in March 2025. She is an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Toronto and a Certifying Co-Ordinator with the International Focusing Institute. Jan is Co-Director of the Borden Street Clinic where she supervises graduate students. She enjoys teaching all over the world.

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