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Polyvagal Theory and the Developing Child

 Author: Marilyn Sanders
 Description:

In the book, Polyvagal Theory and the Developing Child, pediatrician and neonatologist Marilyn R. Sanders and child psychiatrist George S. Thompson offer readers both a meditation on caregiving and a call to action for physicians, educators, and mental health providers.

At its heart, Polyvagal Theory describes how the brain’s unconscious sense of safety or danger impacts our emotions and behaviors.

When children don’t have safe relationships, or emotional, medical, or physical traumas punctuate their lives, their ability to love, trust, and thrive is damaged.

Children who have multiple relationship disruptions may have physical, behavioral, or mental health concerns that follow them into adulthood.

By attending to the lessons of Polyvagal Theory―that adult caregivers must be aware of children’s unconscious processing of sensory information―the authors show how professionals can play a critical role in establishing a sense of safety even in the face of dangerous, and sometimes incomprehensibly scary, situations.

About Marilyn Sanders

Dr. Marilyn Sanders is a board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist.

She provides clinical care for critically ill newborns, infants, and young children at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) in Hartford, Connecticut.

As a neonatologist, she cares for babies with a wide range of medical problems that require intensive care services.

In CCMC’s Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Clinic, she also sees babies from four months to three years of age who are at risk for developmental challenges.

Dr. Sanders lectures throughout the United States and Europe, and routinely works with clinicians and trainees from pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, nursing and social work.

In addition to addressing health care providers, she is also frequently invited to speak to state and community agencies working with young children and their families, early childhood policy advisors, and undergraduate and graduate students.

Dr. Sanders is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

Her scholarly work focuses on enhancing the social and emotional well-being of vulnerable infants and children, many of whom were exposed to early trauma.

Her approach to trauma-informed care is embedded in the Polyvagal Theory that elaborates how our unconscious nervous system’s sense of safety, danger, or life threat affects our emotions and behaviors.

Dr. Sanders provides education, training, and consultation to health care provider groups and hospital systems.

Her consultations are focused on preventing and treating burnout among health care providers and enhancing awareness of the role of the unconscious nervous system in clinican-patient relationships.

Dr. Sanders writes papers and book chapters on trauma-informed care for young infants, children, and their families in the hospital setting.

With her co-author, child psychiatrist George Thompson, Dr. Sanders has published The Polyvagal Theory and the Developing Child: Strengthening Systems of Care for Kids, Families, and Communities, a book that “offers both a meditation on caregiving and a call to action for physicians, educators, and mental health providers.”

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About the author

Marilyn Sanders

Dr. Marilyn Sanders is a board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist. She provides clinical care for critically ill newborns, infants, and young children at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) in Hartford, Connecticut. As a neonatologist, she cares for babies with a wide...

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