Embedding Polyvagal Theory in Healthcare Practice
Marilyn Ruth Sanders, MD | Molly McClain, MD, MPH
Audio and Video
Nov 06, 2021
Polyvagal theory has wide-ranging applications relating to the power of safety. While safety is vital to healing, it can be ironically difficult to find in healthcare, both for patients and providers. The speakers are experienced clinicians who work in acute care and outpatient settings and will demonstrate applications of the principles of Polyvagal Theory in everyday practice.
Marilyn Sanders, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist who cares for critically-ill babies, infants, and their families at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Hartford, CT. Dr. Sanders did her pediatric residency at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and her fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Johns-Hopkins School of Medicine. She is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. She also provides neurodevelopmental follow-up for babies and infants up to 3 years old. Her scholarly interest is providing trauma-informed care to hospitalized newborns, infants, young children, and their families. Her focus is the impact of the autonomic nervous system’s sense of safety, danger, or life threat on our emotions and behavior. She lectures throughout the United States and Europe. She has authored papers and book chapters on trauma-informed care for young infants, children, and their families in the hospital setting. Dr. Sanders and her co-author, Dr. George Thompson, are currently under book contract with WW Norton and Company. Their book, The Polyvagal Theory and the Developing Child: Strengthening Children, Families, and Communities, published in July 2021, and discusses implications of the Polyvagal Theory, for the well-being and development of infants, children, and adolescents. Dr. Sanders is also on the The Advisory Board of The Polyvagal Institute.
Financial: Dr. Marilyn Sanders has employment relationships with Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford Hospital, Eastern Connecticut Health Network, and John Dempsey Hospital. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Marilyn Sanders is a consultant to the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut, the Connecticut Hospital Association, and the Department of Children and Families. She serves on the advisory board for the Polyvagal Institute.
Molly McClain, MD, MPHRelated seminars and products
Dr. Molly McClain completed medical and public health training at Oregon Health Sciences University and Family Medicine residency at University of New Mexico, where she is now the residency Program Director working in primary care revealed illnesses and issues not explained in her medical training. Her search to understand the foundations of her patient’s concerns led her to Polyvagal Theory and on a path toward her own healing. Dr. McClain is interested in learning and sharing applications of PVT for patients and for people who work in the medical system.
Financial: Dr. Molly McClain has employment relationships with the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Encino Clinic, Deseo Clinic, PRISM Clinic, and the Rural and Urban Underserved Program for Medical Students. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Molly McClain is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, and the World Professional Association of Transgender Health.
What is health?
The word health refers to a state of complete emotional and physical well-being. Healthcare exists to help people maintain this optimal state of health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthcare costs in the United States were $3.5 trillionTrusted Source in 2017.
However, despite this expenditure, people in the U.S. have a lower life expectancy than people in other developed countries. This is due to a variety of factors, including access to healthcare and lifestyle choices.
Good health is central to handling stress and living a longer, more active life. In this article, we explain the meaning of good health, the types of health a person needs to consider, and how to preserve good health.
In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source defined health with a phrase that modern authorities still apply.
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
In 1986, the WHOTrusted Source made further clarifications:
“A resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.”
This means that health is a resource to support an individual’s function in wider society, rather than an end in itself. A healthful lifestyle provides the means to lead a full life with meaning and purpose.
In 2009, researchers publishing inThe LancetTrusted Source defined health as the ability of a body to adapt to new threats and infirmities.
They base this definition on the idea that the past few decades have seen modern science take significant strides in the awareness of diseases by understanding how they work, discovering new ways to slow or stop them, and acknowledging that an absence of pathology may not be possible.
Embedding Polyvagal Theory in Healthcare Practice
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