Our industry-leading

teen-centric approach

Trauma & NARM

We believe that teens can find long-term and sustainable healing from the most common and complex mental health issues that affect their demographic. We believe in looking beyond surface-level symptoms and exploring the underlying issues that inform your child’s disordered behaviors. 


What this means is exploring a child's complex or developmental trauma, and finding paths to healing through strategies that are teen-specific, trauma-informed, and self-sustainable.

Healthy connections between body and mind helps to heal trauma.

The NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM®) is a therapeutic approach to healing developmental trauma that helps establish a healthy connection between body and mind. It explores an individual’s emotional connection and functional organization, their identity and sense of self, puts the focus on the present, and teaches clients regulation of their nervous system.

Many traditional models of psychology are regressive. They focus on the past by bringing awareness to the client’s disorganized and dysfunctional characteristics. NARM® is non-regressive and focuses on the present parts of self that are organized, functional, and coherent. The ultimate aim of NARM® therapy is to improve the client’s emotional self-regulation while strengthening interpersonal connections.

The goal of the NeuroAffective Relational Model® at Family First Adolescent Services is to improve our client’s emotional self-regulation and strengthen their interpersonal connections.


Our experience helping teens has shown that the best way to heal developmental trauma is to give clients the ability to respond to the ongoing demands of everyday interactions by using a range of emotions that are both socially acceptable and emotionally sustainable.

Core Principles Of The NARM® Model

  • Integrate relational orientation with nervous system-based therapy.

  • Use somatic mindfulness to anchor self-regulation in the nervous system.

  • Acknowledge psychological effects on the body by accessing the body’s self-regulatory capacities – retrain nervous system responses.

  • Inquire into deep identifications and counter-identifications that we understand as our identity.


NARM® Approach


Dr. Heller goes on to outline the way that the NARM® approach uses physiology and psychology to treat individuals who have experienced developmental trauma. Treatment acknowledges the interaction between self-identification and an individual’s capacity for connection and emotional self-regulation.


Primary Organizing Principles Of NARM® Model

  • Emotional connection and functional organization

  • Exploring identity

  • Focusing on the present

  • Nervous system regulation


Five Organizing Developmental Themes

The NeuroAffective Relational Model® lays out five developmental life themes that are necessary for healthy emotional self-regulation. These themes affect our ability to be present to ourselves and to others.

  • Connection: In order to feel a sense of connection and belonging in the world, we must be in touch with our bodies and emotions. This strengthens our connection with others.

  • Attunement: Knowing, understanding, and recognizing our needs is necessary in order to accept the abundance that life offers.

  • Trust: We must develop an inherent trust in ourselves and in others. This paves the way for healthy, interdependent relationships.

  • Autonomy: It is important to establish healthy boundaries for ourselves and for those around us. We must be able to say no when necessary. Learn to be honest without guilt or fear.

  • Love & Sexuality: In order to foster healthy relationships our hearts must be open. Only then will we be able to truly integrate a loving relationship with vital sexuality.