tHE SCIENCE

The science of
connection

Disconnection, distraction, and divisive opinions have become the narrative of how we experience (or don’t experience) relationships, family and community in the modern world.

Recent studies in neuroscience and psychology clearly show that loneliness, isolation and gaps in “social health” are driving deadly, secondary medical and mental health pandemics across human society: addiction, suicide and chronic illness.

The neuroscience of meaningful social connection

Just like food and shelter, we desire and need social connection to thrive. There is a certain kind of nourishment on a biochemical, physiological level that happens through social interactions.

Why We Are Wired to Connect
How this relates to SeekHealing:

SeekHealing’s services aim to nourish and cultivate the social interconnectedness that our brains desire by making opportunities for it common. These initiatives provide welcoming spaces where we have the opportunity to form deep, meaningful connections.

Relational Cultural Theory

Relational Cultural Theory (RTC) helps us understand how humans become increasingly relationally complex, rather than more individuated and autonomous, over our developmental life spans.

It is built on the premise that human beings grow through and toward connection, and that we need connections to flourish, even to stay alive. This theory views isolation as a major source of suffering for people, at both a personal and cultural level.

What Is Relational Cuture Theory?
How this relates to SeekHealing:

Relational Cultural Theory (RCT) provides an alternative to traditional perspectives on human development. RTC views mental health and personal growth through the lens of interpersonal dynamics. Mutual empathy and mutual empowerment are seen as paths out of isolation and the suffering that it causes. 

SeekHealing’s programs work to foster personal growth, mental health, and a healthy relationship with substances through experiences of shared empathy and empowerment, which  RCT advocates as central to well-being. These programs align with RCT in their focus on bringing individuals out of isolation, helping them build stronger, healthier relationships and by extension strengthening the social fabric of the communities in which they live.

Polyvagal Theory

Before Polyvagal Theory, the two previously recognized nervous system functions–the sympathetic “fight-or-flight” and the parasympathetic “rest-and-digest”--didn’t recognize more nuanced ways the nervous system responds to stimulus. Polyvagal Theory identifies what it calls the social engagement system, which mixes the sympathetic nervous system’s activating effect with the parasympathetic nervous system’s calming effect, to help us navigate relationships. 

How this relates to SeekHealing:

The social engagement system allows us to become more flexible in our coping styles. We have to feel safe to use it. SeekHealing programs feature two trained, trauma-informed facilitators, creating a safe space for participants to practice engaging their physiological social engagement system. In this way, SeekHealing is helping participants to retrain their nervous system responses to others, facilitating their ability to create more meaningful connections and healthy relationships that can improve their sense of well-being and their mental health.

Attachment Theory

Attachment is a lasting psychological connection between people. In attachment, deep and lasting emotional bonds form between people as they seek to be close to one another and feel more secure when they are together. Attachment behavior includes noticing and responding sensitively to another’s needs.

Attachment theory assumes that children need to form a secure relationship with a primary caregiver in order to attain the confidence to explore the world. It also suggests that behavior is learned primarily through childhood experiences, rather than being determined at birth.

How this relates to SeekHealing:

SeekHealing provides resources for members of the community to form secure connections with each other by sharing how the state of their current relationships are and are not serving them and others. SeekHealing programs and resources promote healing from past experiences and help participants learn to connect more deeply in their current relationships.

Trauma-Informed Practice

For the past 25 years, research has shown a strong relationship between trauma and severe mental health issues, including substance use disorder. Trauma-informed practice recognizes trauma symptoms and the role trauma may play in people’s lives. Through trauma-informed practice, we provide more appropriate and accessible support to people who have experienced trauma.

How this relates to SeekHealing:

SeekHealing’s programming was designed from the ground up to be trauma-informed and is staffed by trained trauma-informed facilitators. Through SeekHealing’s outreach to organizations working in harm reduction, substance use recovery, mental illness, homelessness, our programming serves people who have experienced trauma, helping them to feel safe, share their experiences, and connect with others without judgment, giving them space to heal, grow, and learn.

Relational Model for Social Health

Growing evidence shows the connection between positive relationships and well-being. Positive relationships have also been shown to reduce the impact of difficult times. A Relational Health model focuses on health as the result of many connected pieces of a complex social system.

How this relates to SeekHealing:

SeekHealing’s programming provides facilitated connection, interactive skill-building opportunities, substance-free social events, and community-building volunteer, co-working, and work opportunities, providing a social safety net for a community to combat drug use, mental illness, and deaths of despair.

Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is a set of practices and programs to improve the health and social well-being of those who use drugs. Harm reduction is also a movement for justice and human rights built on respect for substance users. It’s about meeting people where they are, and serving people based on their needs.

How this relates to SeekHealing:

SeekHealing meets individuals’ needs for social connection alongside their mental health treatment and recovery services. All SeekHealing programs are available to anyone, regardless of their choices around drug use.

Get educated

Articles by topic, written by the SeekHealing team and community members.

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