top of page

Polyvagal Theory for Healthcare Providers

Polyvagal Theory for Healthcare Providers

CE's Available:



Cost: $




Heather Abernethy, MD

Stephen W. Porges, PhD

"Polyvagal Theory application is timely and much needed in all areas of healthcare. I'm looking forward to more courses for Healthcare Providers in the future from PVI." --Rachel Menke

Course Overview

This new and unique course presents Polyvagal Theory to healthcare providers. This course will help you understand your own nervous system fluctuations as well as read the autonomic state of your patients to help guide them to a state of safety and connection. Taught by Dr. Heather Abernethy (anesthesiologist), and Dr. Stephen Porges, the 4-hour course includes didactic teaching with a Q&A session, an interactive panel discussion (with Dr. Molly McClain, family practice physician, and Dr. Alissa Greenbaum, general surgeon), and practical techniques to build resilience and avoid burnout.


Outline and Format


Target Audience

doctors, nurses, healthcare providers

Course Benefits


CE's and/or Certificate Available Upon Completion


Heather Abernethy, MD

Dr. Heather Abernethy is an anesthesiologist who feels at home in the operating room, but finds the greatest satisfaction, connection, and healing in listening to her patients’ fears and relief before and after surgery.

Dr. Abernethy spent 20 years supporting patients in the operating room and OB suites. She also sought treatment for PTSD, and, as a client rather than a physician, discovered the wonders of somatic (body-based) modalities for self-regulation and growth.  Training in embodiment techniques like trauma release exercises and craniosacral therapy taught her to regulate her autonomic nervous system and thus be more present and empathic with her patients. She also presented the PVT to the department of anesthesiology and the operating room staff.

She envisions a future in which physicians have training and skills to receive the information their bodies are giving them and identify what they can do to find a state of compassion and curiosity. This will allow them to connect with their patients, who in turn will feel safe and empowered in their care.

Dr. Abernethy is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and lives with her two sons and their mouth-breathing French bulldog.

Heather Abernethy, MD

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 used by therapists to improve language processing, state regulation, and spontaneous social engagement.

Stephen W. Porges, PhD


Other Offerings You May Enjoy

Upcoming Events

Check out live and virtual upcoming events featuring PVT, Dr. Stephen Porges, and other leaders in the field.

Join Our PVI Community

Get access to curated content, ask questions, and make connections by becoming a member of the free app.

Stay Informed

Subscribe to our bi-monthly e-newsletter to receive links to fresh articles, videos, podcasts, and events.

bottom of page