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Integrating Developmental and Multi-Level Approaches in Somatic Process Group: Insights from a Relational Embodiment Residency

  • Tupikina, Liubov
  • Santolini, Marc
Publication Date
Aug 18, 2023
GuangZhou Institute of Energy Conversion
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The ongoing exploration of the human nervous system, particularly informed by Stephen Porges' Polyvagal theory, draws attention to the roles of the vagus nerve and the importance of interpersonal relationships in therapeutic settings. Yet, these relational dimensions, manifesting across various levels from individual interactions to group dynamics, are frequently overlooked in therapeutic procedures and assessments. This paper presents a multi-level perspective that seeks to integrate principles from somatic psychology with insights for individuals and collectives from developmental, evolutionary and contemplative sciences, in order to offer a novel somatico-developmental framework for enhancing process group trauma-healing methodologies. We introduce the "Relational Embodiment" 2-weeks residency program as a case study and delineate an ecology of nervous systems regulation and developmental practices across the Self, Dyadic, Group, and Community levels. These incorporate meditation, individual therapy, group sessions, and collective tasks, suggesting an encompassing multi-level therapeutic model. We discuss limitations of this approach and recommend research directions that combine quantitative tools for physiological and relational measurements with qualitative methods such as participant-driven journaling. Finally, we propose that methods rooted in participatory action research can not only yield context-specific data but also enhance individual therapeutic processes. In conclusion, this paper offers a practical multi-level framework emphasizing the importance of interpersonal dynamics in somatic therapeutic contexts.

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