The NeuroAffective Relational Model™ (NARM™):

A Two-Year Practitioner Training for Healing Developmental Trauma


Course Description

The NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM™) is an advanced clinical training for mental health and somatic practitioners who work with developmental trauma. NARM addresses relational and attachment trauma by working with early, unconscious patterns of disconnection that deeply affect our identity, emotions, physiology, behavior and relationships. Integrating a psychodynamic and body centered approach, NARM offers a comprehensive theoretical and clinical model for working with developmental trauma.

NARM draws on psychodynamic models such as attachment and object relations theory, and somatic models such as Somatic Experiencing® and character structure approaches, in addressing the link between psychological issues and the body. Working relationally in the present moment, and within a context of interpersonal neurobiology, NARM offers a new approach of working relationally that is a resource-oriented, non-regressive, non-cathartic, and ultimately non-pathologizing model.  Grounded in mindfulness and contemplative spiritual practices, NARM supports a non-western orientation to the nature of the Self. Learning how to work simultaneously with these diverse elements is a radical shift that has profound clinical implications for healing complex trauma and supporting personal and relational growth.

Course Objectives

In the NARM Practitioner Training you will learn:

  • The different skills needed to work with developmental versus shock trauma; when and why shock trauma interventions may be contraindicated in working with developmental trauma.
  • How to address the complex interplay between nervous system dysregulation and identity distortions, such as toxic shame and guilt, low self-esteem, chronic self-judgment, and other psychobiological symptoms.
  • How to work moment-by-moment with early adaptive survival styles that, while once life-saving, distort clients’ current life experience.
  • When to work ‘bottom-up’, when to work ‘top-down’, and how to work with both simultaneously to meet the special challenges of developmental trauma.
  • How to support clients with a mindful and progressive process of disidentification from identity distortions.
  • A new, coherent theory for working with affect and emotions, which aims to support their psychobiological completion.

Course Structure

The NARM Practitioner Training consists of 138 contact hours divided into 6 live modules and 4 webinars.  The 6 live modules will be held for a total of 18 days over the 2-year period of the training.  The 4 webinars will consist of 3-hour online meetings.  The live modules are typically spaced 3-4 months apart, or 3 per year, to allow time for continued study, practice, peer meetings, and the webinars, in support of greater integration of the NARM clinical approach.

Supplementary learning opportunities include: study and practice groups, individual and group consultation, individual NARM sessions, access to library of demonstration videos, and other learning intensives.

Teaching Methods

All modules include a combination of 2 complimentary instruction approaches:

  • Didactic and theoretical learning: including lecture, question and answer periods, class-wide discussion, case consultation, and deconstruction of demonstration videos.
  • Experiential learning: including self-inquiry exercises, small group activities, role-plays, active coaching and guided skill practice.

2-Year NARM Practitioner Training Curriculum Topic Overview

Module 1
  • NARM Theoretical Orientation
  • Working with Shock and Developmental Trauma
  • Working with Top-Down and Bottom-Up Integrative Approach
  • NARM Organizing Principles
  • Overview of 5 Adaptive Survival Styles
  • Distortions of Life Force
  • Distress and Healing Cycles
  • Pride and Shame-Based Identifications
  • Reframing Attachment and Attachment Loss
  • Introducing the 4 Pillars of NARM
  • Establishing a Therapeutic “Contract”
  • The NARM Relational Model
  • Connection Survival Style
Webinar 1
  • Connection: Clients Whose Access to Sensations and Feelings are Compromised
    • Lecture
    • Q & A
    • Deconstruct demo video
    • Case presentations

Module 2

  • Developmental Process: Attachment & Separation-Individuation
  • Asking Exploratory Questions
  • Somatic Mindfulness
  • Attunement Survival Style
  • Identifying and using Resources
  • Working in Present Time with Dual Awareness
  • Reflecting Positive Shifts
  • Autonomy Survival Style
  • Working with Anger and Aggression
Webinar 2
  • Countertransference & the Traps of Goal-Oriented, Solution-Focused Psychotherapy
    • Lecture
    • Q & A
    • Deconstruct demo video
    • Case presentations

Module 3

  • Trust Survival Style
  • Core vs Default Emotions
  • Anger & Aggression
  • Narcissism and Objectification
  • Narcissistic vs Sadistic Abuse
  • Supporting Agency
  • Love-Sexuality Survival Style
  • The Psychobiological Process of Shame (“Shame as a Verb”)
  • Tracking Expansion & Contraction/Connection & Disconnection
  • “Drilling Down”/Deconstruction of Experience (in the function of Disidentification)
  • NARM Languaging
Webinar 3
  • Working with Shame & Guilt
    • Lecture
    • Q & A
    • Deconstruct demo video
    • Case presentations

Module 4

  • Deepening Study into the Connection Survival Style Issues, Symptoms and Related Disorders
  • The Polyvagal Theory
  • Trait-Survival Style-Personality Disorder Continuum
  • Identifying Core Dilemma: Core Themes vs Survival Strategies (Behaviors, symptoms, etc.)
  • Working Hypothesis
  • Freeze & Intrapsychic Conflict
  • Self-Hatred & Self-Rejection
  • RORU & WORU: Rewarding and Withdrawing Object Relations Units
  • Therapist’s Countertransference Acting-Out & Re-Enactment
  • Unmanaged Empathy and Therapist Efforting
Webinar 4
  • Addressing Identity from both a Psychological & Spiritual Perspective
    • Lecture
    • Q & A
    • Deconstruct demo video
    • Case presentations

Module 5

  • The Interplay of the Survival Styles: Primary and Secondary Patterns
  • Survival Styles as they relate to Intimacy and Sexuality
  • Developing Capacity for Pleasure
  • Working with Couples

Module 6

  • Working with Identity
  • Disidentification: Loneliness and Freedom
  • Supporting Increasing Complexity, Capacity and Resiliency
  • Addressing the Physical Structure of the Adaptive Survival Styles
  • Working with the Social Engagement Channels: Eyes, Ears, Face and Touch
  • Integrating NARM Effectively Into Our Clinical Practice

Master’s Level

  • Working with Personality Disorders
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Locating the Quiet or Still Place Inside

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Dr. Heller can be reached by email at

Website Contact: Victor Osaka