"The Survive/Thrive Spiral" by Ruth Culver
Polyvagal Theory (Porges, 2011) and Internal Family Systems (Schwartz, 1995) are two mod-els gaining significant attention within the growth in awareness of complex trauma and its profound and simultaneous effects on the mind and body. This article introduces ‘The Sur-vive/Thrive Spiral’ (referred to in the text as ‘Spiral’) - my infographic exploring the parallels between two of our primary systems of protection: the nervous system, viewed through the lens of Stephen Porges’ (2011) Polyvagal Theory, and the psychological system, represented by Richard Schwartz’s (1995) Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS). The ‘Spiral’ offers a reference tool for exploring how trauma affects the psyche and facilitates mindful awareness of the brain–body connection. It illustrates how these two protective systems are interdepend-ent, each constantly reflecting and influencing the other. This article outlines how the graphic came into being and offers case studies demonstrating how it can support clients to develop increased calm and self-compassion.
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