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Connection for Protection – The importance of feeling connected

What actually is connection

The term connection is used in the field of therapy, but that doesn’t help explain what it actually is. Have you ever had an experience where you look at someone who is sad and feel a sense of sadness yourself? Or been in a conversation who has ‘a contagious smile’? That, right there, in the moment, is connection. Connection is the term used to describe the experience of being present with another, where central nervous systems connect and you get to have shared experiences.


Why is it important

The short version, connection creates protection. Humans are social creatures, who need to be connected to others in the world. Humans are not built to go through life by ourselves, and seek out partners, mates, friendships, companions and even rivals. Through these connections we create a sense of self, learn and grow, learn how to be in relationships with others and work out what feels good and what doesn’t.

To coin the term of Stephen Porges and Deb Dana “through a neuroception of safety we can heal trauma and regulate our nervous system”.


But Ash, what does it actually do

Through connections we create safety and improve our ability to ‘bounce back’. This feeling of bouncing back is also known as resilience, the ability to self-regulate when an experience overwhelms the nervous system and the window of tolerance is exceeded. Through connection we create meaningful relationships, learn to be intuitive of our own needs and the needs of others and have the experience of co-regulation and self-regulation.


Can I do this at home?

Absolutely!! As a person that practices CCPT one of the things I recommend to the families I work with is engaging in activities or ‘special play time’ to foster and support creation of connection with their children. The world moves so fast, and sometimes it feels so hard to slow down. Our children feel this the most, and when the connection starts to fade and the children feel unseen, behaviours come out to bring back any form of connection. For little ones, any form of connection, even if it is negative, is better than no connection at all.


Where can I learn more?

At the Play Therapy Hub different therapists have different skill sets, but a few things you can do are:

· Book a time with a CCPT therapist and speak about connection

· Enter into one of the PTH Filial Therapy experiences

· Do some research on activities that help spend quality time with children

· Experiment! Spent time one on one with your little ones and see what works



References

Dana, D. (2019). The polyvagal theory in therapy. W W Norton and Company.

Porges, S. (2011). The polyvagal theory. Norton.

Rogers, C. (1992). The processes of therapy. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 60(2), 163-164. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006x.60.2.163

Van der Kolk, B. (2015). The body keeps the score.


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