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Digital Seminar

Embedding Polyvagal Theory in Healthcare Practice

Marilyn Ruth Sanders, MD |  Molly McClain, MD, MPH
57 Minutes
Nov 06, 2021
Product Code:
Media Type:
Digital Seminar
Never expires.


Polyvagal theory has wide-ranging applications relating to the power of safety. While safety is vital to healing, it can be ironically difficult to find in healthcare, both for patients and providers. The speakers are experienced clinicians who work in acute care and outpatient settings and will demonstrate applications of the principles of Polyvagal Theory in everyday practice.



Marilyn Ruth Sanders, MD's Profile

Marilyn Ruth Sanders, MD Related seminars and products

Marilyn Sanders, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist who cares for critically-ill babies, infants, and their families at the Connecticut Children's Medical Center Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Hartford, CT. Dr. Sanders did her pediatric residency at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and her fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Johns-Hopkins School of Medicine. She is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. She also provides neurodevelopmental follow-up for babies and infants up to 3 years old. Her scholarly interest is providing trauma-informed care to hospitalized newborns, infants, young children, and their families. Her focus is the impact of the autonomic nervous system's sense of safety, danger, or life threat on our emotions and behavior. She lectures throughout the United States and Europe. She has authored papers and book chapters on trauma-informed care for young infants, children, and their families in the hospital setting. Dr. Sanders and her co-author, Dr. George Thompson, are currently under book contract with WW Norton and Company. Their book, The Polyvagal Theory and the Developing Child: Strengthening Children, Families, and Communities, published in July 2021, and discusses implications of the Polyvagal Theory, for the well-being and development of infants, children, and adolescents. Dr. Sanders is also on the The Advisory Board of The Polyvagal Institute.


Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Dr. Marilyn Sanders has employment relationships with Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Hartford Hospital, Eastern Connecticut Health Network, and John Dempsey Hospital. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.

Non-financial: Dr. Marilyn Sanders is a consultant to the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut, the Connecticut Hospital Association, and the Department of Children and Families. She serves on the advisory board for the Polyvagal Institute.

Molly McClain, MD, MPH's Profile

Molly McClain, MD, MPH Related seminars and products

Dr. Molly McClain completed medical and public health training at Oregon Health Sciences University and Family Medicine residency at University of New Mexico, where she is now the residency Program Director working in primary care revealed illnesses and issues not explained in her medical training.  Her search to understand the foundations of her patient's concerns led her to Polyvagal Theory and on a path toward her own healing. Dr. McClain is interested in learning and sharing applications of PVT for patients and for people who work in the medical system.


Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Dr. Molly McClain has employment relationships with the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Encino Clinic, Deseo Clinic, PRISM Clinic, and the Rural and Urban Underserved Program for Medical Students. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.

Non-financial: Dr. Molly McClain is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, and the World Professional Association of Transgender Health.

Additional Info

Program Information

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


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  1. Apply principles of Polyvagal Theory and neuroceptive safety to the patient provider relationship.
  2. Evaluate neuroceptive states in providers and patients to improve rapport.
  3. Utilize the steps to and importance of repair of disruption of connectedness.


  • Application of Autonomic ladder in medical settings (to provider and patient)
  • Interpretation of vital signs that indicate safety versus danger versus life-threat

Target Audience

  • Addiction Counselors
  • Counselors
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Other Mental Health Professionals

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