A New Threshold: Trauma Means Unintegrated Resource (OI Tenet 1, Pt. 2)
Summary: This article outlines the major themes taught in the Organic Intelligence clinical protocol. Key terms are discussed: complexity, threshold, 3-Phase model, implicit vs explicit, and self-organization.
“Working the physiology using trauma, not working the trauma using physiology”: This is Part 2, click here for Part 1.
Around the world, Organic Intelligence® (OI) has taught therapists how to observe relevant client behaviors (speech, movement, muscle tension, breath, coloration, emotion, etc.) according to a very clear map. This mapping allows therapists to understand the nervous system condition, and reveals what kind of intervention is most likely to support natural systemic reorganization. First we must dispense with a trauma-focused and problem-driven clinical approach. OI’s incorporation of the established science of complex systems helps map a classic 3-Phase protocol for seeing organizational phase shifts. The “fractal nature of body and mind,” and the essential clinical work derived of intrinsic, biological Self-regulation shows predictably in OI trained professionals.
However, clinicians must learn to simultaneously track content and underlying physiological states in terms of the degree of affect regulation. This “affect” regulation is in fact “intensity” regulation. There are ideal thresholds of intensity that constitute an organized learning experience. The essence of this learning is the recalibration of the intrinsic relation to these thresholds themselves. This is the natural trend toward self-organization, and the heart of the OI work. OI trains practitioners to see these thresholds, and support the client’s reward system to recalibrate toward the natural thresholds.
OI provides a clear map, and coaching on how to recognize a system’s efforts to move toward threshold processing — which is the third Phase in the “Chaos To Complexity” Diagram. Because of the addiction to intensity, clients’ threshold levels do not regularly achieve their learning levels. Organic Intelligence trains practitioners to shepherd the intensities toward their natural plateaus, the ideal learning intensity level, by working in-phase (Phase III) and assessing in-the-moment trends toward threshold — and bringing additional support when needed.
This additional therapeutic support happens according to the “Addiction To Intensity” map (above) which illustrates how the natural re-establishment of threshold is thwarted by 3 deviations. Support comes as intensification, additional inhibition of intensity, or additional support for deactivation.
The deviation from attaining threshold is the de-synchronous and de-syncrhonizing nervous system condition which, with the right support, finds its way back into improved synchrony and coherence. The three dimensions of departure, the three errors of threshold attainment according to Organic Intelligence (see “Addiction To Intensity Cycle” diagram above) are:
1. Excess Inhibition — intensification and acceleration are prematurely inhibited (i.e., by distraction, diversion, tension, breath-holding, etc.)
2. Failure of Inhibition — intensities exceed threshold. This is often thought to be the sole realm of affect dysregulation. Exceeding threshold may include overwhelm, or it may mean simply a habit of “too much.” Often, therapies that propose discharge as the means of nervous system recalibration will exceed the natural intensity threshold.
3. Failure to complete deactivation — the addiction to intensity often shows up as the inability to fully allow settling, relaxation and deactivation. Instead, further habits of thought, speech, etc., manifest and stimulate the system for further arousal. This is out of sync in a system that would re-set its patterning in the de-arousal phase.
The natural return of the oscillatory pattern invites other systems to synchronize, and systems reorganize from the nervous system up. Not only the subjective feelings of greater ease and flow appear, but also common syndromal patterns which reflect fundamental systemic disorganization often diminish or disappear (e.g. migraine, irritable bowel, fibromyalgia, etc.) as a system reorganizes.
Importantly then, the Organic Intelligence clinical process carefully observes a system as it reaches toward its next threshold, by observing affect, orientation, subtle physical movement, autonomic shifts (coloration, respiration, heart-rate, etc.), as well as the quality and content of the verbal exchange. In the context of reinforcing the development of systemic coherence, a “free association conversation” procedure occurs, so that the natural and non-self-conscious presentation of the organismic process can proceed with the client, without undue interference from the explicit content agendas of the client, or the therapist. Thus, the typical “priming” of the therapeutic encounter as the search for “what’s wrong” or for the “root cause” of the neurosis, or the “trauma” is abandoned in favor of a naturalistic and supportive conversation whenever possible.
As the client’s system stabilizes, they learn how to allow, with lesser interference, the unfolding of the physiological intention for threshold attainment, and more rapid reorganization and integration occurs. Most often beginning with implicit, or state-specific (body) memory, the disinhibition that accompanies the free association conversation allows the system to show its movements, affects, and cognitions that are associated with successive thresholds, which then can be sequenced with gentle guidance of the practitioner (along the lines of the 3 dimensions seen in the “Addiction To Intensity” mapping). Explicit content actually arises naturally as the psyche — the psycho-biology — brings the content which uniquely serves the purpose of attaining the next threshold. Thus, the content arises spontaneously in the context of the biological goal of attaining the next integrative and integrating threshold.
This then is a fundamental shift for the therapeutic endeavor. Organic Intelligence is a protocol which has been taught internationally to therapists for over 15 years. Clinically validated by therapists around the world — consistent outcomes are achieved by a distinct protocol based in biology and the science of complexity. Therapists must come to understand that explicit content per se will most often exceed threshold for clients, and have a disorganizing effect on systems characterized by a disorder endemic to modern society, as well as by trauma. The fact that over-threshold experience is reinforced (negative reinforcement) means that high intensity treatments will not succumb readily to OI’s suggestion to shift to a shaping paradigm and positive reinforcement. The removal of the high intensity (aversive) experience through discharge or other means simply reinforces that the way to feel better is by feeling worse first. This is a means by which existing systems of disorganization self-reinforces, and keeps intensity thresholds stuck at maladaptive levels.
However, with the understanding and protocol that OI offers, the Phase III harmony of biological synchrony can return. And, when it does, the system shows itself in its natural and reiterative form. The beauty, and simplicity of a system in this unfolding will be discussed in the next of the Organic Intelligence Ten Tenets blog, “The Fractal Nature of Body & Mind.”
Click here for OI Tenet #2: Somatic Self-Similarity: The Fractal Nature of Body & Mind.
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