Principles of NeuroAffective Relational Model

The NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM) is a therapeutic approach developed by Dr. Laurence Heller and Dr. Aline LaPierre. NARM is designed to address complex trauma and attachment issues by working with the nervous system and the relational patterns that develop as a result of early life experiences. It is particularly focused on healing the impact of developmental and relational trauma.

Agency is a central theme in NARM therapy, where the goal is to help individuals recover their capacity for self-direction, choice, and empowerment. By working with the impact of developmental trauma and healing survival styles, NARM enables clients to reclaim their agency and engage with the world in ways that align with their authentic selves and values.

NARM therapy is considered a comprehensive and integrative approach to trauma healing and attachment repair. It is often used by therapists who specialize in working with complex trauma and individuals with a history of adverse childhood experiences.

Here are the key principles and concepts associated with NARM therapy:

Developmental Trauma and Loss of Agency

NARM recognizes that developmental trauma can lead to a loss of agency in individuals. This trauma may occur during early childhood when individuals are unable to assert themselves, make choices, or express their needs due to adverse experiences or relational disruptions.

Reclaiming Agency

A central goal of NARM therapy is to help clients reclaim their sense of agency and self-determination. This involves empowering clients to make choices, set boundaries, and assert their needs in a healthy and adaptive manner.

Working with Survival Styles

NARM identifies various adaptive survival styles that individuals may develop in response to developmental trauma, such as fight, flight, freeze, fawn, and submit. These survival styles can become rigid and limit agency. Therapy aims to help clients recognize and transform these patterns, freeing up their capacity for agency.

Restoring Autonomy

Through NARM, clients learn to recognize and heal the impact of past experiences that may have compromised their autonomy and sense of self. They explore how their developmental history may have influenced their current patterns of relating to themselves and others.

Differentiating from Caregivers

In the process of developing agency, NARM therapy helps clients differentiate from the roles and expectations placed on them by caregivers or family systems. This differentiation allows clients to define their own identities and make choices aligned with their authentic selves.

Reconnecting with Inner Resources

NARM encourages clients to identify and connect with their inner resources and strengths, which can enhance their sense of agency. These resources can be emotional, cognitive, or somatic in nature.

Embodied Agency

NARM is an embodied therapy, which means that it recognizes the connection between the body and agency. Clients learn to recognize bodily sensations associated with their survival styles and emotional responses, which can provide valuable information for asserting agency in a grounded way.


As clients progress in NARM therapy, they often experience a growing sense of empowerment and self-efficacy. They learn to navigate life’s challenges with greater autonomy and confidence.

Resilience and Adaptation

NARM’s focus on agency supports clients in building resilience and adapting to stressors and life transitions. This is particularly important for individuals with complex trauma histories.

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

Subscribe to My List

* required

Your privacy is very important. We never rent your contact information. Please review our Privacy Notice.

Email marketing via MailChimp