Pacifica continues to respond to COVID-19 - Click here to read updates on campus access and course delivery for upcoming quarters. (Click here for FAQs.)

Dissertation Title:

Toward an Integrative Somatic Depth Psychotherapeutic Model for Relational Trauma: Exploring the Psychotherapy Client’s Lived Embodied Experience


Nadine Macaluso

Date, Time & Place:

July 26, 2015 at 3:00 pm
Studio, Lambert Road Campus


This qualitative phenomenological study explored the experiences of people with relational trauma in NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM), a somatically based psychotherapy. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach of depth psychotherapy, neuroscience, attachment, and somatic therapy, the literature review examined the multifaceted impact of relational trauma and the mechanisms of implicit memory and somatic psychotherapy. The literature review also presented verbal and nonverbal therapeutic actions that theoretically support processes of change for the psychotherapy patient. Although much has been written theoretically about the psychotherapy patient’s experience, there has been scant qualitative research from the perspective of the psychotherapy patient.
The researcher conducted interviews with six individuals who had been in NARM therapy to contribute to our understanding of the experience of the somatic, cognitive, emotional, and relational processes in the clinical dyad. The research participants included four females and two males, ranging in age from 30 to 63 years old. Using Giorgi’s phenomenological method, interview transcripts were analyzed. Essential constituents were made explicit, and a refined structural description synthesizing the NARM patients’ common experience was developed.
The research identified 11 constituents that comprise the essential structure of the lived embodied experience of being in NARM therapy. They include (a) the patient connects to his inner experience of emotions, thoughts, and sensations; (b) the therapist finely attunes to the patient; (c) the therapy experience is present focused; (d) the body and its expressions and sensations are tracked and incorporated; (e) images facilitate the patient’s process; (f) the patient’s movements are enacted and processed; (g) the patient experiences a new embodied authentic sense of self; (h) the patient’s personal resources are highlighted; (i) metaphor supports the patient’s process; (j) the therapy experience is titrated; (k) relational patterns are explored.
The study suggests the value and efficacy of a resource oriented, integrative, psychobiological therapeutic approach which supports affect regulation for patients exploring implicit and explicit processes of self that were shaped by relational trauma. The research indicates that a holistic divergent discourse supports organization, integration and individuation.


All oral defense attendees must shuttle to the Lambert Road Campus from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria. Parking on campus is not available.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Somatic Studies, Track S, 2010
  • Chair: Dr. Ginette Paris
  • Reader: Dr. Lori Pye
  • External Reader: Dr. Gilles Maheu
  • Keywords: Relational Trauma, Somatic Psychotherapy, Implicit Memory, Depth Psychology