Understanding Polyvagal Theory and the Social Engagement System for More Effective Therapies

Three-Session, Virtual Training

October 20, 27, & November 3, 2023 | 11:00 am to 1:00 pm

Training for Therapists

This three part, six-hour course will introduce you to the Polyvagal Theory and the Social Engagement System (Porges, 1994). Understanding the Polyvagal Theory and the Social Engagement System is foundational to effective therapeutic work as it creates a therapeutic presence of safety and connection; helping clients regulate, opening the door to intervention and healing. Improved therapeutic presence will help you experience better client outcomes. You will be offered several tools to use with your clients to help them understand and regulate their nervous systems.

The three-part series will cover the evolution and function of the human social brain in relation to our nervous system with application to clinical work, education, and personal understanding.

Three Training Sessions

Friday, October 20

Session one covers the Polyvagal Theory and the autonomic nervous system; how we detect safety and threat through neuroception, the three physiological states, and the way we move through these states. You will be given practice sheets to help clients identify and map their physiological states. This session will also cover regulation, coregulation, dysregulation, and ways to help clients transition to appropriate physiological states.

Friday, October 27

Session two will cover the Social Engagement System. You will learn the why and how of social engagement, the physiology of this system, and how we coregulate. We will discuss the ventral vagus system in relation to the heart, eyes, ears, and voice. You will learn the importance of a regulated therapist in order to help dysregulated clients coregulate their nervous systems.

Friday, November 3

Session three will introduce you to several tools that you can use to help yourself and your clients attune to their physiological states, move between states, and exercise their nervous system. The activities are designed to bring awareness to physiological states, to regulate oneself when necessary, and finally to build a strong and flexible nervous system. Therapists will be able to help clients develop their own personal toolbox to help clients regulate in the moment as well as create a lifestyle that supports a strong, flexible nervous system.


As a result of this course participants will be able to:

  1. Explain the Polyvagal Theory in relation to therapeutic presence and client behavior.
  2. Explain the three states of the Polyvagal Theory and describe the accompanying physiological changes in the body.
  3. Explain the Social Engagement System and how we use this system to detect threat or safety.
  4. Describe coregulation, why it is important, and how the Social Engagement System is used to coregulate.
  5. Apply the Polyvagal Theory to a diverse group of people (ethnic, gender, SES, age) and explain why these individuals may have difficulty regulating themselves.
  6. Utilize three to five tools given in the training to help clients understand their nervous systems and create their own personal toolbox of care strategies or activities.

This course is approved by the NASW-Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative For 6 CE hours.

Dr. Ginny Witte

Dr. Ginny Witte is a trauma educator, educating groups on trauma and trauma recovery. She also works with individuals to guide them through the process of healing from trauma. Dr. Witte is a licensed educator in the state of Michigan who focuses on trauma informed teaching as foundational to learning for all children, specifically supporting children who have, or are experiencing trauma. She has taught children from preschool through the university level, combining her background in education, kinesiology, cognitive science, family life, and child development to unlock blocks to learning. She has helped both typical and atypical children find success through using trauma informed approaches alongside her knowledge of how the brain learns. She is also certified in Trauma Informed Yoga, Somatic Stress Release Therapy, and Trauma Informed yoga for youth. Ginny currently uses her expertise to coach and educate individuals through trauma recovery and to educate professionals and trauma survivors about trauma and trauma informed practices.

Jana Pressley, Psy.D.


Western Michigan University
BA in Education, Science and Family Life

Western Michigan University
MA in Early Childhood Development

Michigan State University
PhD in Kinesiology and Cognitive Science


TEFL Certified

Certified RYI 200

RYI 500 in progress

Trauma Informed Yoga

Trauma Informed Yoga for Teens

Somatic Stress Release

Understanding Polyvagal Theory and the Social Engagement System for More Effective Therapies

Three-Session, Virtual Training

Presenter: Dr. Ginny Witte

Dates: October 20, 27, & November 3

Time: 11:00 am to 1:00 pm each day

Location: Virtual, via Zoom


  • Professional: $199.00.
  • Student: $79.00.

Continuing Education Credits:

  • NASW-Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative: 6 CE hours

Refund Policy: Refund requests must be sent to communications@grtherapygroup.com prior to first session.