The NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM) is a cutting edge model. It addresses attachment, relational and developmental trauma, otherwise referred to as “Complex Trauma” (Complex-PTSD or C-PTSD). This developmentally-oriented, neuroscientifically-informed model emerged out of earlier psychotherapeutic orientations including Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Attachment Theory, Gestalt Therapy, and diverse Somatic Psychotherapy approaches. It integrates top-down psychotherapy with bottom-up somatic approaches within a relational context.
Developed by Dr. Laurence Heller over the course of his 45 year clinical career, it was first introduced in his widely selling book Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image and the Capacity for Relationship, currently available in over ten languages.
The NARM model is a powerful approach to addressing adverse childhood experiences and its long-term consequences, which highlighted in the Adverse Childhood Events study. NARM's basis is that whilst what has happened in the past is significant, it's not this that creates the symptoms that people experience as adults. It is the persistence of survival styles appropriate to the past that distort present experience and create symptoms. These survival patterns, having outlived their usefulness, create ongoing disconnection from our authentic self and from others. For example, dissociation and isolation are the primary coping mechanisms for dealing with the earliest trauma. Whilst dissociation and isolation have literally saved people’s lives, as this pattern continues into adulthood, they create endless symptoms.
It is also the distortions of identity that develop in response to early trauma which create ongoing suffering. For example, children always experience environmental failure as their own failure. A simple example: if a child grows up with unloving parents, he or she is unable to see that this is their parents’ failure. Children tend to develop the sense of self that they are unlovable. A core element in the NARM model is working with the child’s and then the adult’s unconscious need to protect the attachment relationship. They do this in a process called splitting, which protects the image of the caregiver at the expense of their own positive sense of self. This has profound repercussions for all of us on a psychobiological level.