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5 Building Blocks of Effective Nervous System Regulation Practices

These 5 simple elements can make guiding short in-session regulation practices easy, giving clients access to the brain functions they need to do the work of therapy & coaching.

Building Blocks for Effective Nervous System Regulation

Dysregulated Clients Lose Access to Critical Functions

As you probably know, clients who are dysregulated lose access to some higher-level brain functions such as the ability to:

  • regulate their emotions

  • reflect on experiences in a meaningful way

  • make decisions based on an integrated perspective

  • offer acceptance and compassion to themselves and others

These are the very the things that clients need to be able to do to experience healing during our sessions!

…and the more the client is dysregulated, the more the ability to access these skills is cut off.

In short, if your client is dysregulated, then the work of therapy and coaching is more difficult and less effective. There is also a higher risk of the client being re-traumatized because they do not have access to the skills and ways of being that can meet and process the trauma safely.

Two or Three Minutes of Regulation Can Make all the Difference

Research (and our own experience with clients!) shows that there are simple, straightforward practices that we can guide in our sessions to bring clients back to a state of regulation.

Some clinicians have told me that they feel intimidated about leading these practices.

That’s why we’ve studied the brain science behind nervous system regulation practices and broken them down into basic elements that are easy to understand, use and combine.

These elements not only help clients regulate in the moment, but they build the connective fibers in the brain that make future regulation easier.

In our Resource & Regulate class, we teach you how to use these building blocks so that you can create and customize practices to suit individual client’s needs and preferences.

It becomes a creative process that feels intuitive!

You might try some of these elements with your clients when they are dysregulated and let us know what you and they experience.


The 5 Elements of Effective Regulation Practices:

  1. Point out safety in this moment through looking, naming, noticing, sensing, etc.

  2. Use the 5 senses to reconnect to the present moment.

  3. Feel into the raw sensations and emotions in the body.

  4. Breathing practices where client becomes aware of and/or controls the breath.

  5. Connection – to therapist, to self, to others - use soothing touch, voice, & presence.


Do you find that a few minutes of guided regulation practice prepares your clients for the work of therapy and coaching?

Do you start your sessions with a quick regulation practice?

If so, what effects fo you notice...for your client? ...for you?

What practices have you found most useful for yourself or your clients?

Have questions?

Let us know in the comments and we will be happy to respond.


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