Chi for Two
A Polyvagal-informed Multi-generational Trauma Healing Method
There are 40 Chi for Two® partner practices. 35 are for relationships with built-in power differential—child/parent, client/coach, student/teacher, employee/boss. 5 are for relationships where there is ideally power equality—siblings, friends, colleagues, lovers.
Note: It is important when talking about power differentials to include the words “built-in” and “ideally.”
By naming “built-in” power differential and “ideally” power equality, we invite people into conscious awareness of the built-in power differential that exists in certain relationships. To pretend power differentials do not exist in relationships where they do exist is crazy-making.
When we name the relationships where power equality is ideal, that awareness deepens the recognition of power struggles that develop within those relationships. We invite people to recognize the unfinished infant/parent dances stirred in relationships where power equality is ideal. This awareness helps our clients bring their unfinished infant/parent dances to their Chi for Two Embodiment Coach.
In relationships where there is a built-in power differential, Chi for Two helps the person who has the built-in power hold Circles of Support for the next generation.
What is trauma? Trauma is an inhibition of certain movement expressions in certain situations with certain people.
Chi for Two helps us awaken our natural animal movements, which have been inhibited by our nervous systems due to multi-generational trauma. When we do the Chi for Two partner practices with a Chi for Two Embodiment Coach, we gain more movement expressions that are mobilized by Play/Dance.
When we mobilize with Play/Dance, our bodies are naturally able to Rest and Digest. Our bodies feel more aligned with nature’s rhythms.
When the nervous system of each body within a social system functions in a naturally sustainable way, the energetic dance between people becomes more sustainable. Larger social systems are more likely to become capable of functioning in ways that sustain each person within that system.
Humans are unique animals. We are able to conceptualize nature in mathematical formulas. As adults, we are interested in sexuality for a kind of connection that seems unique to humans.
Mythologist Joseph Campbell spoke of human existence in terms of huge chunks of time—epochs. There are three known epochs: Hunter/Gatherer, Herding/Farming, and City/States, Campbell saw humanity as trying to move into a fourth epoch, which is being ushered in through a unique dance of sexual connection.
For a long time, attachment theorists (Hazan and Shaver) have noted that romantic dances stir unfinished infant/parent dances. Chi for Two helps romantic partners notice when their “baby stuff” wakes up, and bring those needs to be seen and validated to their Embodiment Coach where they can do the symbolic redos that help them “grow up.”
In the book "Monsters in Love", Menakem talks about how our romantic dances reveal our need to grow up. Chi for Two helps us do it.
When clients practice Chi for Two with their coach, they re-parent their nervous system functioning.
In addition to being based on scientist Stephen Porges understanding of nervous system anatomy and Peter Levine’s understanding of trauma patterning, the practices draw from the work of major attachment theorists (Ainsworth, Tronick, Hazan, Shaver, Mikulincer), as well as the infant development understanding of Bonnie Bainbrige Cohen, creator of Body-Mind Centering, and the developmental rhythms identified by child psychiatrist Judith Kestenberg and colleagues.
Because the practices are all invitational, they celebrate the awakening of the infant rhythms that Kestenberg and colleagues named the “fighting” rhythms. When clients practice the “fighting” rhythms with their Chi for Two Embodiment Coaches, they gain more movement expressions that are mobilized by Play/Dance.
Chi for Two appreciates the understanding of multi-generational trauma provided by Menakem in "My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies" and "Monsters in Love", the work of DeGruy who speaks of "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome", Crenshaw who speaks of "Intersectionality", and Wilkerson who wrote "Caste".
The Therapeutic Dance -
How the Therapeutic Dance Heals Attachment Trauma
The first peer-reviewed paper created by Dee Wagner, originator of Chi for Two is "Polyvagal Theory and Peek-a-boo" in Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy. This article helps us see how the therapeutic dance heals attachment trauma.
With dance/movement therapist Stacey Hurst, Dee Wagner wrote "Couples Dance/Movement Therapy: Bringing a Theoretical Framework to Practice" in the American Journal of Dance Therapy.
With dance/movement therapist Orit Sônia Waisman, Dee Wagner wrote "Stirring Up Health: Polyvagal Theory and the Dance of Mismatch in Healing Multi-generational Trauma" in Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy.