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Polyvagal Theory Comes to Life in Our Schools and Classrooms

Polyvagal Theory Comes to Life in Our Schools and Classrooms




Cost: $


CE's Available:


Lori Desautels, PhD

Stephen W. Porges, PhD

"Highly recommend this course! "--Bridget Walker

Course Overview

Polyvagal Theory Comes to Life in Our Schools and Classrooms This course introduces the science of Polyvagal Theory and how the application of this theory into our schools will support social and emotional well-being. The goal is to understand how our nervous system drives all behaviors and learning. Current education models require compliance and control based state regulation, while to attend to mental and cognitive tasks, we need to feel safe and connected inside our environments, experiences, and relationships. Our nervous systems and physiological states create and produce the behaviors we observe, question, discuss, punish, suspend, seclude, and attend to in all moments throughout the day. As educators who sit with 30 to 180 plus nervous systems every day, we have traditionally paid attention to observable behaviors, assessing them as appropriate, disrespectful, inappropriate, oppositional, aggressive, manipulative, and a variety of other labels and classifications. Polyvagal Theory and recent social and affective neuroscience shows that education requires “state regulation” . If we are able to access and integrate the cognitive and mental tasks we need to succeed in school and positively navigate life experiences. We hope that these modules will be a part of your procedures, routines, and transitions as you prepare the student’s nervous system for the challenges and lived experiences of the day. When we are intentional about acknowledging our autonomic nervous systems, we are building capacity in our bodies for safety and connection. Most of us in the western part of the world have been conditioned, parented, and schooled through the lens of Behaviorism. Conventionally, our school systems and structures have embedded behaviorism along with contingency programs that address and focus upon compliance and control. Many of these contingency behavioral regulations and handbooks mirror zero tolerance policies from the 1990’s and early 2000’s often designed by racially privileged school leaders and groups that have unintentionally increased discipline, racial inequities and disparities for our children and youth of color, culture, and special education populations. Many educators have grown up with the “law and order” mentality that focuses on accountability solely through the lens of observable behaviors. In the United States today, we implement corporal punishment in 19 states. But we have a significant disconnect. Our most troubled youth and children have nervous systems that are wired in a survival brain and body state. The Covid pandemic has added layers of adversity and trauma to the lives of our children, families, and communities. Children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty levels. We hope that these polyvagal modules for educators will be road maps guiding us all toward growth as we model the complex and beautiful ways our brains and bodies are always communicating and working for us, not against us. Our challenge is to listen to our bodies as we become aware of the sensory and regulatory practices that assist us in returning home to the balanced, safe, and connected places that promote our emotional, social, and physiological well-being. We are offering this course through a virtual platform as we have developed three live modules and two on-demand modules that will move us through this academic year. Student modules are aligned with the educator modules (PDF) with accompanying worksheets and resources. Students will have access to the course for 240 days from the date of purchase.

Click here to meet Dr. Lori Desautels


Module 01: Our Brain and Body States -October 6, 2022, & LIVE ZOOM meeting 8:00pm EST (US, Canada) Module 02: Behaviors and Sensations of Brain and Body States -On-demand, self-paced Module 03: Activators and Being Conscious of ACE's and Adverse Community Environments -November 3, 2022, LIVE ZOOM meeting 8:00pm EST (US, Canada) Module 04: Co-Regulation in Our Classrooms -On-demand, self-paced Module 05: What This Means For Me -December 8, 2022, LIVE ZOOM meeting 8:00pm EST (US. Canada)



Recommended Audience

educators, clinicians, behaviorists

CE's and/or Certificate of Completion Available

  • What is the attendance policy for a course?
    Live/Hybrid courses: While specific course policies may vary, we typically allow one absence for a live or hybrid course and require watching the recording and sometimes submitting a reflection for the missed session. If a participant is absent for more than the permissible number of live sessions, they may not be eligible for a certificate. Self-paced courses: In short, not applicable. Attendance does not apply to self-paced as they are designed to be consumed when the student is willing and able to take the course. All material is pre-recorded content, reading, or individual assignments.
  • How are live sessions held?
    Live sessions are held via Zoom. Zoom links are available inside the course content and in email reminders sent to enrollees.
  • What if I am unable to attend a live session?
    We upload recordings of our live sessions within 72 hours. (Please see the attendance policy above.)
  • How can I tell what time the live session will be in my local time zone?
    We typically provide live session start times in the four time zones of the continental United States. To convert live session times to your local timezone, please visit
  • Where can I find the course material?
    Thinkific is our learning management system. Upon enrolling in a course, you will receive an invite email to the course in Thinkific, where you can find all of the course materials and links.
  • Is this course accredited?
    The course page will list any continuing education credits (CEs) or other professional benefits that might be available for the course (and any applicable restrictions). If none are listed, then none are available.
  • How do I reset my password to Thinkific?
    You can reset your password by going to and clicking “Forgot Password?” link below the password field. You will then enter the email address you used when creating your account to receive a one-time password reset link. Use the instructions in that email to complete your password reset. If you have any other technical questions, feel free to reach out to us at
  • Is there closed captioning?
    Yes. Most pre-recorded content is hosted in Vimeo, which has closed captioning. If you come across a video that does not have closed captioning, please send us a message at
  • In which currency are your prices listed in?
    Our prices are listed in USD (United States Dollars). Your credit card or bank statement will likely reflect the price in your local currency.
  • Will I be charged sales tax?
    If you are located in the US or Canada, you will be charged sales tax on the cost of your course.
  • Are there scholarships available?
    Yes, PVI offers scholarships for all of our courses on a rolling basis. You can apply for a scholarship at
  • Are there group discounts?
    Yes. For groups of five or more participants, a 15% discount is available for each participant.
  • What is your refund policy?
    30 day money back guarantee for all of our courses (from date of purchase for self-paced courses and from date of first live session for live courses). Please reach out to us at if you'd like to inquire about a refund.
  • Can I purchase a gift certificate for PVI courses?
    Give the gift of learning! Yes, Polyvagal Institute offers digital gift certificates that arrive by email, and can be used towards any of our courses. Gift certificates are a simple way to share polyvagal insight and knowledge that stems from a better understanding of the human experience. Purchase a gift certificate now!


Lori Desautels, PhD

Dr. Lori Desautels has been an Assistant Professor at Butler University since 2016 where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate programs in the College of Education. Lori is a former special education teacher and school counselor. In 2016, Lori created a nine-hour graduate certification at Butler University in Applied Educational Neuroscience/Brain and Trauma. Lori Is the author of four books and her latest book, “Connections over Compliance: Rewiring Our Perception of Discipline” was released in 2020. Lori co-authored the social and emotional competencies for the state of Indiana and created a 100-day educational Neuroscience toolkit for educators worldwide. Lori writes for Edutopia and co-teaches in schools where she shares the application of her research in K-12 classrooms.

Lori Desautels, PhD

Stephen W. Porges, PhD

Stephen W. Porges, PhD

Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium in the Kinsey Institute. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He served as president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences and is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He is the originator of the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral, mental, and health problems related to traumatic experiences. He is also the creator of a music-based intervention, the Safe and Sound Protocol ™, which is currently used by over 4,000 therapists to improve language processing, state regulation, and spontaneous social engagement.


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