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The Family Nervous System model has been built over 25 years of experience to help inform therapists who work with children and families to understand the complex puzzle pieces required to scaffold children and families' mental and emotional health through a Polyvagal, physiological, and biological lens. It considers the concept of internal and external microtraumas that constantly signal us that we are unsafe. With the unprecedented amount of exposure to these triggers growing daily, in addition to the diminishing generational resources, by picking up this book, you are helping to be one of the conductors of the children and families in which you are a part of those you work with to find more resilience, connection and the tools they need.



In utero, the baby's nervous system is informed and developed by the mother's nervous system. This has been clinically proven so we will use "Mother" in our family nervous system language. We understand that there are a multitude of terms for families today. We cannot list out all of them, so please know that we are speaking to you as the primary nervous system regulator for the child; whether you are a primary caretaker, grandparent, or parent, there is a bond between a child and the adult(s) that they are most connected to that requires that adult first to feel connected to themselves and safe in their brains and bodies for evolution to do its work in the child by first co-regulating with the adult which then leads to the ability to self regulate. 


BG Mancini
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The Family Nervous System®

The evidence base for the model is that the mom/primary attachment adult’s nervous system must be included in any healing for a child. Evolution and neuroscience show us that a child’s nervous system models itself based on the adult with whom they are most connected. A child first needs to co-regulate before they can self-regulate. Adults are experiencing health issues, emotional challenges, and unresolved trauma, causing them to feel unsafe in their bodies, which makes them completely unable to connect with their children deeply.  This alters how the cerebellum and the nervous system develop and makes the brain less resilient to the constant changes around us, causing us to interpret more and more stimuli as stressors and threats.  


Parents used to be able to ask me to work with a child without first working with them; however, based on my experience and the use of Steve Porges’ Safe & Sound Protocol, I have changed how I work. I now know that parents also need to choose awareness of their state to connect and support their children in reaching their potential more deeply.  We know it’s never about “fixing” a child.  Helping individuals be as comfortable in their brain and body as possible will help them experience a safer inner world in their thoughts and physiology to feel safer and more open to engagement.  Engagement and meaningful connection are only possible when we are IN our bodies and staying present.  Is it any wonder that an uncomfortable child will elope or scream when they cannot express what is happening?  


As adults, if we don’t feel well physically or emotionally, we are constantly checking out. Children are attempting to cope with non-safety signals in the only way they know how.  The bottom-up approach to recovering safety has proven significantly more effective and even more so when working together with other tools to complement the child's needs.


The Family Nervous System® model brings clarity for anyone working with children as to what they are seeing, considering everything the child is being exposed to and physiologically going through. The underlying inflammatory condition within their nervous system and its responses that have adapted to common triggers, whether emotional, physical, thoughts, or more, are the Internal and External Microtraumas. These are often standing in the way of the progress of the extraordinary work being done by an LMHC, Physical Therapist,  Play therapist,  Speech and Language Therapist, Chiropractor, and all other therapists and practitioners and stop them from seeing the results they need to see not to experience early career burnout.  


There is a delicate dance between anyone entering the medical, mental health, and therapy world and the patients or clients they see. No one can help everyone; however, when there is no reciprocity of a therapist or doctor's effort and the energy being expended in exchange for glimmers of their clients and patients feeling better, the therapist can't continue through when certain patients are not responding. In today's world, after speaking with hundreds of seasoned therapists and medical professionals, I've heard that patients are not responding as they used to. Everyone is a complex case.  


There used to be standard treatable conditions that required less of the professional to achieve great results. Now that more children are complex cases, this burden is seen in the effort, time, and resources needed for each patient/client. This is unsustainable for the professional, especially when the diagnoses of learning disabilities, autism, ADHD, RAD, emotional dysregulation, anxiety, depression, and more continue to rise quickly.

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Brain & Gut Connection

The brain/gut connection has been well established in neuroscience in explaining how an individual's physiology informs their emotional and neurological health. Using the central tenets of polyvagal theory, The Family Nervous System model provides critical resources for a therapist to identify key underlying physical/biological challenges contributing to the child's distress. This empowers them to make the right suggestions and referrals without being trained in these tools. Broadening their awareness of these often-necessary therapies/tests positions the therapist to better use the skills within their scope by making the proper referrals outside their scope.  


Many therapists working with children and families feel defeated and ineffective right now, just when needed most.  No matter when this is being read, it will be true.  


Introductions to the following and how their interaction with the nervous system can cause, contribute to, and be mistaken for emotional, behavioral, and psychiatric diagnosis: 

Bacterial Infections

Food Sensitivities



Environmental Toxins: Mold

Family Toxic Environment

Brain & Gut Inflammation Markers


Those mentioned above contributed to nervous system imbalances, making therapeutic results more difficult and causing families to lose hope. Therapists are running a losing race when daily exposures affect a child, including the family dynamic, which can't shift without giving that family the tools that may be underlying their challenges. This book, accompanying child workbook, and card deck will support therapists in a holistic approach to working with kids.

Self-regulation development depends on predictable, responsive, and supportive people and environments.


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