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October, 2018

The Neurorelational Framework in 3 steps

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This post gives an overview of The NeuroRelational Framework's (NRF) three step process, symbolized by a tree.


Step 1 (Roots): The first step of the NRF is to identify the nature of toxic stress in the child's nervous system. To assess the nervous system, we assess the child's sleep-awake cycle. We want to know the amount and quality of their sleep states, and the type and quality of their awake states.


For awake state quality, we we watch the child's behavior and categorize it into for four zones: 

  • The Green Zone (feeling alert, calm and ready to take in information)

  • The Blue Zone (shut down, out of it, or weak)

  • The Red Zone (having outbursts, a sense of urgency or restlessness, and/or upset feelings), and 

  • The Combo Zone (feeling nervous, anxious, or afraid). 

We determine how often, how long, and how intensely the child experiences each zone throughout an average day.

The nervous system states are represented by a tree's roots because the human's ability to develop is dependent on what we are able to take in from the outside world. If the roots are compromised, the tree will be unable to access needed nutrients to flourish. Similarly, a child in toxic stress is unable to take in the love and nurturing they need to flourish.


Step 2 (Trunk): The trunk of the tree represents the child’s capacity to relate with others and the self. A tree's trunk transports nutrients back and forth from the roots to the branches and back. Good development requires an ability to interact, externally with others and internally between brain and bodily systems. Toxic stress compromises this ability, preventing us from relating fluidly with other people and from allowing our internal systems to work together smoothly.


In this second step of the NRF, we look at the ways key people are interacting with the child. We apply tools to build the child’s capacity to relate and experience more shared joy with the child’s most important people. Joy is of utmost importance in a child's relationships because it is the primary propeller of internal systems working well together.


Step 3 (Branches): The branches of the tree symbolize the four brain systems. Just as the leaves of the tree transmute sun into food for the tree, the child's brain transforms experiences in the world into the maturing of the child. All breakdowns in the maturation process come from toxic stress. The stressors that create toxic stress can be identified in the four brain systems:

Regulatory System (the body);

Sensory System (the senses);

Relevance System (relationship, emotion and memory); and 

Executive System (ability and skill). 


In this third step of the NRF, we start with the lower brain systems (Regulatory and Sensory) and work our way up, identifying where in each brain system stressors can be eliminated, reduced, or better tolerated. 


Join me here for the next four months as I describe the common modern stressors for each brain system and tools for reducing them.

Source: NRF-GC (NeuroRelational Framework Global Communities)

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