Welcome, and thank you for visiting Traumatology Edinburgh.
My name is Stuart Morgan-Ayrs and I am a Traumatologist, otherwise known as a PTSD and Complex Trauma Certified Specialist.
My work is underpinned with hard science, and this guides both modern interventions, and also the ability to explain traditional and holistic interventions!
Making the decision to see a specialist for Trauma is a big commitment, so it can be reassuring to understand a little of the science!
Neurology has come on in leaps and bounds in the last decade, not least because of the work of leading specialists like Bessel Van de Volk and Stephen Porges. Porges in particular has moved the field on through the development of Polyvagal theory, a hard science form of neurology, accepted in the mainstream, that explains far better the integration of mind within body.
A key aspect is that we now know without any doubt that Mind and Body are NOT separate, not only is the mind within the body, it is throughout the body, not just the brain. We already realised the Central Nervous System, Endocrine System and Vagal systems were crucial to this joined up reality, but Porges further explored the vagal system leading to new understanding of the ability to use the vagal nervous system to calm the body (activating the parasympathetic nervous system), and the ventral brake system to calm the cardiac system. He also brought new levels of understanding to the Levels of response to threat, previously often understood only as “flight and fight”. Thanks to Stephen Porges and colleagues we now understand the true Hierarchy is different…. below is a simplified version.
Level 1: Social Engagement. De-escalation through facial expression, smile, touch, voice
Level 2: Fight or Flight
Level 3: Freeze response, aka Disassociation.
Understanding this system and it’s origins in evolution has led to a new realisation of how adaptation occurs and has impacts on attachment styles, perceptions and behaviours, especially in cases of complex trauma.
Stuart has studied Polyvagal theory and it’s application and is honoured to be a personally invited part of the International Trauma Consortium set up by Stephen Porges.
Dr Daniel Siegal and colleagues have created a very useful system called Interpersonal Neurobiology, which explains much of the interaction between interpersonal communication / interaction, and neurology. It is partly informed by Polyvagal theory, but also looks at neurobiological integration, especially left to right brain type balance, and using exercises to rebalance. It is very similar in theory to elements of RO DBT in that it teaches that people are usually out of balance towards left dominant (overcontrolled) or right dominant (undercontrolled) function. Again this is tied into evolutionary and developmental psychology, and in particular attachment theory.
Integrative Medicine and Biology
Modern developments mean that we know that there are neurons in the gut! The gut is indeed now often called the second brain. Also there is a theory that neurons are also present around the heart. What we know for a fact is that neurons are NOT JUST in the brain, something we would have thought fanciful until recently.
We also know that 40-60% approximately of serotonin, and key amounts of all other neuro transmitters are produced through the gut, and require a healthy gut in a number of key ways. We know that the bi-directional effect means that mental health issues irritate the gut causing poor performance, and poor performance leads to poor production of these key transmitters. Key factors include good quality protein building blocks, pre and pro biotics, and a range of other key nutriments. Learning to naturally incorporate the key building blocks into diet without expensive faddy diets and supplements is a key part of supporting your trauma recovery mentally.
Other supplements like adaptogens help reduce stress hormone levels, and although these are now proven with western science, they have been used traditionally in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine for many thousands of years. Many can be incorporated into diet without great expense.
There are plenty of studies around the internet you can find telling you about the many benefits of exercise, and with trauma one of the great benefits is the faster metabolism of stress hormones. Movement can also be very useful in cognitive processing, movement based mindfulness, vagal system stimulation and breaking negative fixed states.
A hugely researched area, partly thanks to extensive research by the Oxford Centre of Mindfulness (part of Oxford University), we now know that mindfulness improves neuroplasticity (capacity to change), reduces stress reactivity, reduces pain and discomfort perception and reduces symptoms and improves management of a whole range of mental health issues.
Several universities (including Harvard) have now completed extensive research showing how compassionate acts reduce stress hormones and increase positive brain chemical levels in the “do-er”, the “receiver” and even the “witness” of the compassionate act.
I work from private offices located in Edinburgh City Centre. I see clients from the Scottish “central belt” in clinic as well as from elsewhere around the world via virtual session. Please note that not all processes are safe via virtual session.
Sessions are 55 mins long, and are regular. Clients are allocated a regular weekly or fortnightly slot that they are responsible on retainer, with an allowance to be absent for holidays. Terms and conditions and cancellation related matters are fully disclosed in advance, before booking.
I completely respect traditional and complementary systems and am trained in several including Shamanism, Energy Psychology, Chi Gung and Acupressure. However I also want to be able to explain to my clients why the method works in clear, understandable science so that the client understands the reasons why it works! We have a joking expression in clinic: “We are not at home to Professor WooWoo” (woowoo is short hand for quackery)
Science proved through observation is usually not completely understood as to how it works, we just know it does because when we do it, it works! There are often theories to try and explain how, but they are not proven. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Mindfulness psychology, Auyvedic Medicine, Yoga, Chi Gung, Tai Chi, and many other methods have been seen to work, but how was not previously proven. Modern polyvagal theory and other neurobiological advances, and nutritional science advances are now adding cause and effect “how” explanations to these extremely valuable methods.
There is hard science showing that these methods work, and how. However please note that no method, however well understood and explained works all the time. This is why I always use multiple methods, to increase efficiency. Also please note that it is not my job to “fix” you, your hard work is required to make these things work! Thus I am afraid I can not guarantee how well you will do.
This is the point of integrative and multi modal therapy, and indeed advanced specialist certification. it is my job to be able to cover all the methods needed, or to be able to point you in the right direction to fill in any gaps. Some people begin the process of trauma recovery and then shoot off to try some “magic formula” elsewhere. If it works, I have probably incorporated it already!
All healthcare practitioners have to obey the law so there are exceptions to protect the vulnerable, and in the case of law enforcement / court involvement. Mostly however confidentiality is very tight, and you should discuss this if you have any concerns.
No. Usually the answer is “first session only”. With COVID, sorry but for safety, the answer is no.
©2021 Stuart Morgan-Ayrs
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