"Healing Developmental Trauma" by L. Heller and A. LaPierre


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I slowly worked my way through HDT. It may be good that I did it that way. Towards the end of the book there was an addition to my daughter's family in the way of a Foster Care baby with Shaken Baby Syndrome health problems. My daughter and her husband are in the process of adopting the baby (a just turned 1 year old boy, Jordan).

In addition to the symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome he suffered from malnutrition which requires a feeding tube and he also has vision problems.

Fortunately my daughter is an LPN and is able to handle many of the care needs required at home.

Seeing this form of preverbal trama made this book mean more to me and also more aware of the effects of injuries that happen even before one can develope the capability of speech.

I was struck by the sensitivity of the NARM method of therapy. The counselors were almost like empaths in their ability to sense what the patients were feeling and knew when to either slow down or push forward to new growth of awareness.

The Cs describe their take on empathy and what it means:

Session 10 May 2014:
Q: (L) Can anybody think of another question to get me where I want to go here? (shellycheval) As individuals, what's the single most important thing we should do to Do, and to not try, but to actually take actions? What can we do to motivate ourselves as individuals? Is there something we can say or do...?

A: Service to others. Notice that the people with the most problems that always talk only about themselves and their troubles, are the ones who do and give the least. They do not have confidence in the universal law of LIFE: Get things moving and you create a vacuum in your life into which energy can flow.

Q: (L) So, basically what you're saying is that people should think of it as a kind of a law that when you... maybe like the old biblical expression: "Cast your bread on the waters, and after many days, it will return to you" sort of thing? Just do it, and keep doing it without anticipation?

A: Absolutely! And it is true and works. Just notice people who do and give a lot: Are they spending time focused on the self? No!

Q: (L) Yeah, but everybody's got wounds and issues and all that kind of thing to work on. I mean...

A: [letters come very quickly] Balance! A portion of a day can be spent on reflection, but not too much. This is the Wetiko Virus: obsession with the self and subjective personal issues. The next time you feel yourself slipping into despair, just tell others how you are feeling and think of something you can do for another to prevent them from suffering the same feelings. [letters come more slowly now:] Thus you will witness the birth of true empathy.

The examples used in HDT brought out the extreme difficulty helping patients when patients cannot really give a name to the emotions they are feeling.

Chapter 11

Naming an experience brings sensations and emotions into consciousness. Since Emma lived in a largely nonverbal state, she felt great relief when I could accurately bring words to her internal experience. If Emma and I were to succeed in our therapeutic endeavor, the nonverbal communication moving at lightning speed between us would need to be slowed down and brought to awareness; we would need to describe in words and in the present moment what happened inside her and what passed energetically between us. She needed words to know and reflect upon her internal states.

Heller Phd, Laurence. Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship (p. 242). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

Sensory-motor functions develop simultaneously with emotional, relational, and social capacities, and all build on each other. From this perspective, I believe it is important to view the body as having its own reality and its own struggle to come into being. When children miss their developmental markers at the sensory-motor level, the physiological foundation is not in place to support the emergence of their emotional and relational capacities, and they have no alternative but to compensate and work around the compromised capacities. Without the necessary sensory-motor skills, children have a diminished capacity to respond, the demands of the environment environment cause greater stress, and they cannot keep up with other children. More importantly, they often lack the key defensive reflexes that would allow them to adequately protect themselves, and they are therefore more vulnerable. As a result, other children who sense their vulnerability will scapegoat and attack them. In response, children who suffer from early developmental trauma avoid situations that demand capacities that are not developed in them, leading to a life strategy of withdrawal and isolation.

Heller Phd, Laurence. Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship (p. 242). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

In my experience, when neurological development has been compromised, it is necessary to support the emergence of the body’s own impulses and movements. For Emma to feel secure and learn how to relate to another “human,” both of us had to openly communicate our internal reality in an interactive process. We made an agreement that, when appropriate, we would share our internal states: I would share my sensations and my emotional reactions with her, and she, in turn would express hers. She appreciated the structure and could relax when inner reality, mine and hers, was painted in clear, stark colors. It was reassuring for her to have a verbal interpersonal context for her experience. Emma’s fear abated whenever I expressed heartfelt feedback that made emotional sense to her. Slowing down and taking the time to break down key experiences into small present-moment increments, much like playing a movie in slow motion, frame by frame when necessary, helped her find words to describe her sensations and emotions and thus begin to make sense of her internal states. We were developing a first tier of language for her largely nonverbal experience. Finding words allowed her to share and match her internal reality and her external perceptions against my feedback. This meant that she was no longer alone in her struggle to know if her perception was accurate.

Heller Phd, Laurence. Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship (p. 243). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

EMMA: I don’t feel I have the right to be here. I must be such a burden to you, and I feel so embarrassed at my reaction … but I like you there too. Don’t stop. We explored what she meant by “the right to be here.” Talking about not having the right to be gave words to the feeling that she was not wanted, that she had always been a burden and annoyance to her mother and particularly to her father. We explored how it felt to have me next to her, supporting her. The caring intention she could feel in my touch was a new experience. She giggled and squirmed and found it hard to believe. She had never felt that she had a right to exist, let alone that someone would actually want to be with her and respond to her need. Some weeks later, she told me how pivotal this session had been in giving birth to her feeling of being wanted, seen, and understood. EMMA: It started that day when you went out, then came back in the room, then came over and touched my spine, and I felt the support. I had spine hunger and didn’t know it. Although the initial exercise was never completed, it served as an important catalyst. It opened our work to the use of touch and helped Emma realize that her despairing responses, when shared, could elicit empathy in a way that led to a positive response to her needs. EMMA: No amount of talk about my problems seems to make much difference in the way I feel about myself. Mostly, just talking makes it worse. It’s hard to explain, but when you touch me I start to feel real. Like I exist.

Heller Phd, Laurence. Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship (pp. 247-248). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

I think one limitation of NARM therapy is that it focuses heavily on the physiological and emotional aspects of trama since one's present birth and is not really equipped to deal with such things as pre-incarnation tramas or left over karmic emotional issues but it is a great attempt to be of service to others in a unique way that other therapies do not address.
Just getting back to this good forum and resource after continuing to work through early trauma issues. I'm curious if others here have come across the Jovian/Ra-Human Development work and used it in conjunction with Gurdjeiff and other methods like EE Breathing?


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Just getting back to this good forum and resource after continuing to work through early trauma issues. I'm curious if others here have come across the Jovian/Ra-Human Development work and used it in conjunction with Gurdjeiff and other methods like EE Breathing?


If I found the same "Jovis/Ra-Human Development" ( I don't know how it may relate to Gurdjieff or EE) it does seem expensive.


I may not have found the organization you mention.


I think one limitation of NARM therapy is that it focuses heavily on the physiological and emotional aspects of trama since one's present birth and is not really equipped to deal with such things as pre-incarnation tramas or left over karmic emotional issues
My thinking on this is that childhood trauma we experience in this life is directly related to karmic lessons. So could the trauma not be carried over from a past life to this one? Maybe not exactly the same but dealing with a similar lesson.


FOTCM Member
I was thinking about how NARM makes use of grounding to help keep the patient present so that the trauma can be accessed without interference from the automatic survival strategy kicking in and preventing it, like from dissociation or some other defensive mental device.

So then I thought about how in the romance novels we have the carrot of physical intimacy combined with the commitment that that entails in the Regency era, that combines to motivate putting ones cards on the table that opens things up for resolution.

I just thought it was interesting that they both involve a physical element as a crucial ingredient to success.


Jedi Master
That's exactly what I like about it, though I'm only through the book halfway and haven't read about the techniques.
It's no fun too, too look at the tables and recognize the coping strategies and where I'm at in them.
It took me awhile to figure out the five coping strategies and the biological basis is explained in the second half.
Ruthless, but I'm glad its written like this.
Within the coping strategies I feel my main one is autonomy, but maladaption is effecting the other coping mechanisms also, such as attunement.


The Living Force
Completely disillusioned with a society that rejected him, Gregory P. Smith walked into a rainforest near Byron Bay and became a hermit for 10 years. He exited the forest, on the brink of death and still haunted by personal demons, to eventually gain a Ph.D., become a university lecturer in the Faculty of Business, Law, and Arts and become an ambassador for Australia’s ‘forgotten children’. This incredible story is a personal testament to ‘never giving up’. Dr. Gregory P. Smith is a survivor, an academic, and a social researcher. Homeless for much of his adult life living as a recluse in a forest near Byron Bay, he now has a Ph.D. in Sociology and teaches at Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia. In 2018 he published his memoir ‘Out of the Forest’ with Penguin Random House and has been the subject of two Australian documentaries. His profoundly touching and uplifting memoir is at once a unique insight into how far off track a life can go and a powerful reminder that we can all find our way back. Gregory is heavily involved in advocating for the vulnerable and disadvantaged and continues to be the patron of a number of charity organisations while also consulting with several specialist services and agencies. Currently, Dr. Smith is engaged as a consultant and program evaluator in the Premiers Priority Project to reduce rough sleeping in NSW, Australia by 50% in 2025 and zero by 2030. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.



The Force is Strong With This One
My thinking on this is that childhood trauma we experience in this life is directly related to karmic lessons. So could the trauma not be carried over from a past life to this one? Maybe not exactly the same but dealing with a similar lesson.
I agree. Lessons not learned from other lives still have to be integrated somehow. Besides, a book like this can't go into something too hokey like reincarnation without the risk of losing some credibility.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I started another thread in the forum about a book I really enjoyed about healing developmental trauma called The Path is Everywhere. In the thread I shared a lot of quotes from various chapters I enjoyed, but I thought I'd share the review/summary from there here as well since some people following this topic may be interested in it as well.

It is written by Matt Licata, who has a PhD in psychotherapy and leans heavily on the the NARM (neuro-affective relational model) taught in HDT, polyvagal theory, and also wisdom from a number of spiritual traditions including esoteric western and eastern traditions (eg, alchemical metaphors, buddhism, tantra). The mysticism is there mostly for the power to poetically illustrate a given point. Metaphor is never shied away from in the book, and while sometimes I think it can be a bit heavy, I also understand the purpose behind it when it comes to really trying to get a concept or perspective through to someone who has experienced a lot of trauma. For those types of cases it's not a matter of reading one sentence and having the doors blown open (the best case scenario); sometimes a person needs to hear something in multiple ways (similar to the romance reading), with compassionate language, for it to sink in enough to hopefully sir something and initiate the process of integration. Similar to reading a lot of romance novels. :P

I read HDT a few years ago, and it was highly educational, but was of a mostly clinical description on how to apply it as a therapist to a patient. The style of TPIE is such that it's a guided journey the author is taking you on, inviting us to step into and and get in touch with the damaged parts of ourselves, and how to sustain and nourish that contact we make with our dissociated parts of ourselves without shutting down or retreating further. There are many books about healing from trauma that have been mentioned on this forum. This book itself is light on theory (much of which has been covered elsewhere), but I found it excels simply in the advice and emotional support given when it comes to engaging with a certain question or issue of relation, self-regulation, developmental wounding, how to hold oneself together in the middle ground between repressing or identifying with an emotion, and so on.

There is a lot of striving to validate where feelings come from, in the sense of appreciating their original and purely adaptive function of protecting you from further fragmentation due to an overwhelming stress. In spite of this though there are always qualifications for such an exploration to be grounded in morally correct behavior and acting, as the Buddhists say, "skillfully" (e.g. no venting to strangers in nontherapeutic contexts or acting without consideration of other people's needs).

One issue that is discussed in the book is how to avoid certain traps known as "spiritual bypass," where people shore up an identity of being spiritual as a way to avoid examining the discomforting feelings and emotions we can have brought up at irregular times, or to disparage ourselves for not "having everything together" or not being farther along in our path of genuine integration or spiritual growth than our story tells us we should be. This is seen as just another form of self-aggression and self-abandonment where an individual is again setting up a narrative to separate them from the raw deeper feelings by another degree. The protective function this has, to keep the process slow and steady, is another aspect to be honored and appreciated in and of itself, according to the author, which makes a lot of sense to me just in my own explorations of prevebal trauma and the like.

The title of the book is premised on the conviction that every encounter you have with negative emotions—heck, emotions of any kind—is an opportunity to become more deeply acquainted with yourself, in such a way that you can embrace and give space to it such that it will no longer overwhelm you or control your actions; these emotions can find their proper place within you when held properly. The subtitle of “Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You” refers to the life force and power we all have, and from which we can become estranged from due to splitting and dissociation. The book is an invitation to a journey into the self, the whole of our self—not just the known parts of us—and to become acquainted with and loving to the whole of us, that we can bring more of ourselves to bear in the service of others and creating a new world.


Just recently I finished the book. It really opens up so many things, that had been puzzling my mind for a quite long time.
From the five survival styles, connection one is as close as it gets in my case. Reading through the transcripts from sessions had a lot of similarities to what I've been experiencing, like symptoms and reactions to certain things and/or events. At first I expected, that it would be daunting task to read about such things and possibly recognize parts of them in me, but it wasn't. Actually it was quite the opposite.

As I haven't read much psychological books, there were plenty of new concepts, but they were explained well in the book.
I'm going to re-read it at some point, as there is so much valuable information for one read.

I recommend this book for everyone, who are looking for ways to form better understanding about themselves.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I have read the book and have experienced many of the things you have commented, I don't want to repeat the same thing, but I have been very impacted by the book. I have a doubt that I would like to share with you to know what you think.

The book only talks about psychological, mental effects (stress, anxiety, depression...) as a consequence of this "imbalance" as a result of survival styles... I wonder if we can go a step further and also include some physical injuries and illnesses.

I imagine that for that there must be an abuse, or excess in the "imbalance" that ends up also affecting the physical body, causing an accident that causes severe injuries, or incubating a cancer, leukemia, to say something... Is it too far-fetched to raise it this way?


FOTCM Member
Indeed, negative thought patterns running amok and related emotions are connected to illnesses; the mind and the body are one. If there's a constant imbalance inside (chaos) it will surely have an expression on the physical body. Yet, the manifestations can be different from person to person.

About the accidents, that's an interesting question! Maybe? It's complex too, it depends on the individual and its particular context. For example, chronic stress and anxiety can cause us to be more dissociated and unaware of our environment, which can make us prone to accidents. Later we figure it out and discover the underlying cause of the accident and learn to control the stress or work on our anxiety.

Another perspective: An accident can also trigger the process of healing something inside (return to balance). Or even set us on our way toward our purpose, even if it was very painful... Maybe others here have different examples.

Thanks for sharing, OS.

My 2 cents.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
As some have mentioned there are some possible sources of early trauma that are out of the scope of this book perhaps due to a precaution to keep the examples more within acceptable bounds of the current scientific community.

I noticed a question Laura asked in an early session that may apply to some as a possible scenario to explain why physical or psychological traumas happen at an early age.

Session 26 November 1994:

Q: (T) Should it make me happy that they think I am important enough to have seven beings assigned to me personally? Should I take that as a complement?

A: No.

Q: (J) Is Terry's level of negativity what makes him attractive to them? His capability for strong negativity?

A: Vice versa.

Q: (J) Please explain. (L) Well, what did they say, is his negativity what makes him attractive, No. He has attracted them and that is what makes him negative? So what makes him attractive to them?

A: Not attractive, a threat.

Q: (L) Now, that is a point. I think there are a lot of people they start working on very early in life because they do like an aura reading or aura scan and determine, and know that a person has potential for great light so they start working on them when they are young and defenseless to try and take them out of the game, so to speak. (F) Not only great good, but also potential for knowledge. (L) Is this the case here?

A: Yes.

I do like to think we all may have a potential for positive contributions in our lives and have wondered about some of my early childhood experiences that were both physical and psychological traumas. The Cs seem to agree that whether karmic or not they may also happen if we are seen as a threat to STS forces.
Thank you so much for posting this thread and it came right in time when I needed it. 🌷 🌷 🌷

It's been 5 years since I intentionally worked on myself and understand my triggers. I happen to have loads of developmental trauma which I think branched out from a shock trauma way back when I was a toddler.

I am currently on therapy because I have to deal with the very root cause if not all but most of my traumas. I struggled with reactive attachment disorder when I was a child. I didn't even know that I have it not until I watched a documentary last two weeks. I identify with all of her symptoms but hers was just extreme.

I call triggers those events which I think have an emotional impact in me at that moment then I try to observe other people's pattern so I will have an idea what a "normal reaction" feel or is like. Most of the things you have shared in the thread are the exact terms I was hoping I can find so I can create awareness about it. I cannot imagine the roller coaster of emotions you have while reading the book because I think I have dealt with my triggers only when they surface and I am thankful that the universe helped me through all those layer by layer. Doing the healing alone is very hard yet it kept me going. I have tried to discuss it with my parents, family and some friends yet cannot find a solid support system. It's also hard to live and ask help with people who are stuck in their lessons and are also not aware of their own issues. They give projections from their own fears and not solutions and I have to understand that they are doing the best they could too.

It takes a ton of forgiveness and compassion and always being there for me. One exercise I did when having flashbacks (this is just my experiment but I would like to think some people know this and there is a term for it) is recreating the moment---using my imagination to be a figure as someone who I needed at that moment. Since I struggle with connection, I remember there was a time when all the kids in the house were taken by my aunt to the mall while she told me to stay in the house. I felt sad and a bit betrayed because I was so excited and why would she leave me? Of all the kids she'd like to leave, why me? She didn't give me a reason why. So Id imagine that I'm my aunt and I would've given her niece (me) options like probably telling me that she'd make up for it or telling me why she cannot take her with me; I think it is important too to recreate the scenario which is appropriate at that age and not right now. Because if family would tell me they don't want me as a companion in their trips, it is totally fine with me, no hatred or betrayal feelings or whatsoever and I'd not solicit any explanation.

I am curious how does one see a situation from a different light esp. from a trauma that doesn't take into consideration my free will esp. when I was a child? I also remember even when I was born, my mother told me that she pushed me out one or two hours late. I have to stay in the NICU for a week or two. I was blue when I went out probably I got poisoned. Gosh! FWIW coming back here, I wish to have an epic finish. HAHAHA

I have a copy of the book HDT and im very excited to start reading it. Also, the therapy I am currently on is BodyTalk. Does anyone know about it?

BodyTalk Access is a self-care routine that help stimulate your body's natural ability to heal itself. Also prepares your body and mind to manage difficulties and approach opportunities with confidence, when its aligned, neutral and in-sync within itself!!! Access – BodyTalk Center Singapore

And there is only one practitioner in my country for NeurOptimal and she is on a different island. :/

Echo Blue

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
I think this story fits here. My granddaughter, age 8, was riding her bike at a local park. Her mom, my daughter and I were walking the circle in the opposite direction of the route she was riding so we would meet her halfway around the park.

On her last ride around the park, as we were approaching each other, she took a tumble, hit her cheek on the ground and had a small cut on her knee. My daughter ran to her. And, as soon as they connected, my granddaughter started to cry (actually she yelled loudly with fear). It turned out she was ok. Her cheek was red. But she had her helmet on.

My daughter, after comforting her, insisted that she ride her bike home because it would take too long to walk and carry the bike. Granddaughter did get on her bike and rode it home. Two interesting things happened. First, when we finally got her settled on the couch and got an ice pack, etc. she started crying and shaking and said "I can't stop shaking" (she obviously didn't enjoy the feeling). I was sitting at her feet and said to her that it's ok to cry as long as you need to - and the shaking is normal for what you experienced, so shake until it goes away. I don't know exactly how long she shook/cried, maybe for 2 minutes. Then she slowly caught her breath. At that point, my being at her feet, I ran my fingers along the bottom of her feet and she smiled and giggled a bit. I continued another few times. Then there was a shift in her attitude. She said "Can we play a card game?" And we did. She went to bed shortly after. Slept well. And the next day there was no mention of the accident until walking to school when she saw a friend and ran to her and happily said that she fell off her bike yesterday and look at my bruise!!!

But one other thing happened at the park when my granddaughter fell and was howling. She was actually yelling "I'm dying, I'm dying". There were no other people on the walking/riding path but the three of us. As I hurried to reach my granddaughter something caught my eye to my left in the grass. It was a young man. He was very handsome. He spoke to me in a soft and soothing voice (my interpretation) and said "Can I help?" I said that she should be ok. And he just stood there for a bit and he said to me "Make sure that she gets back on her bike." I told him I would tell my daughter that. (But I didn't have to tell her because she just told her daughter that she must ride her bike home.) The young man continued to stay and watch us, then when I looked he was gone (I assumed he continued on his walk).

As the three of us approached the park exit, I looked to my right and there was the young man, just standing there and smiling at us. I nodded back and smiled.

The unusual thing was the path we walk on is rather a long one (although it is round and an open space). I could not figure out how this young man made it back to the exit before we did. It bothered me so that I had a hard time going to sleep trying to timeline the events. Anyway, whether this is my imagination or wishful thinking, I had the sense (or hope) that maybe the young man was sent to us to calm everyone down......an angel maybe). I still can see this young man in my head and am grateful for my imagination and that all turned out ok.
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