An online-course

with Merete Holm Brantbjerg and Kolbjørn Vårdal

RELATIONAL TRAUMA THERAPY: Specialised in including and normalising hypo-states and developing practical methods for working with these stat

What will you gain from this course?

This course will focus on practical methodology and theoretical understanding of hypo-arousal – to support integration and normalisation of this deep parasympathetic survival-reaction – also called the dorsal vagal state – or collapse. “Sitting on the edge of an abyss together” is a poetical language for the methodology

Clinicians participating in this training will gain a basic understanding of and practice in including modification of hypo-response and relating to hypo-arousal together with a client in the map of trauma therapeutic methodology

Differentiation between hypo-response in muscles and hypo-arousal in the autonomic nervous-system will be addressed

This includes differentiation between 3 degrees of stress-responses

  • 1st

    1st degree of stress holds the orienting impulse when something calls for attention.

  • 2nd

    2nd degree stress holds all the organised survival-reactions like flight, fight, protection reflex, calling for help, freeze etc.

  • 3rd

    3rd degree stress holds the deep drop into hypo-arousal/collapse – together with disorganised survival-reactions.

Practical methodology

  • Bodily exercises will be used to build resilience enough to become curious about the deep parasympathetic state of hypo-arousal – supporting a boundary between the self and the collapsed state, so it becomes possible to relate to the collapse instead of being pulled into it or defending against it. Externalisation and visualisation will be trained to support establishing a relationship to hypo-arousal – a methodology developed within Relational Trauma Therapy for working with 3rd degree stress responses.

  • Micro-activations of muscles and connective tissue will be trained in very low dosage – to support presence in the here and now when being close to a hypo-arousal state either in one self or somebody else – and exercises that awaken interoception will be used to support kindness and gentleness in our relationship to the collapsed part of ourselves or others

  • Two traditions are represented in the thinking behind the bodily methodology: Psychomotor skill-training including micro-activations of both muscles and connective tissue – and neurologically informed training focusing on awakening sensation, activating joints and activating interoception


Scholarship-price 600 US$ available with written request. Send an email to Criteria for the reduced price can be being a student, retired or other reasons for having reduced income. There is a maximum 10 participants will get acces to the scholarship price- so don’t wait if you want to send us a request.

This online-course offers

7 X 3 hour live sessions that each time will include:

  • 5 elements

    Presentation of one out of 5 basic elements in working with hypo-arousal

  • Practical training

    Practical training in body-awareness and specific muscle-and joint-activations

  • Sharing

    Time for sharing in smaller groups

  • Exchange-time

    Exchange-time in the whole group with questions and answers – and sharing in subgroups

  • Integration-time

    Session 4 and 7 focus on integration in the learning process

  • Recordings

    Recordings of each of the 7 sessions will be made available for enrolled participants untill 1st of September 2022

  • Curriculum

    Access to an updated curriculum on our online-platform that follows the online course. Here will handouts, articles, links for recommended external sources and the video

What to expect in each session in this course

  • Participants

    Practitioners, consultants, psychotherapists or other professionals working with other people therapeutically or in teaching – who wants to add and integrate a focus on hypo-arousal in their practice.

  • Previous experience with teaching that includes and awakens hypo-response is requested

    This request can be fulfilled by having participated in the online course “Including and awakening hypo-response” – or having participated in training in Relational Trauma Therapy with Merete Holm Brantbjerg or Kolbjørn Vårdal. Prior experience with other psychotherapeutic and/or trauma-therapeutic modalities is required

  • You can expect

    Expect that focusing on hypo-arousal will open up to processes that go deep. Trauma-related material that has not earlier been touched and regulated can show up

  • Fulfillng the criteria

    If you are uncertain if you fulfill the criteria, please contact one of us on : or The Organizer has the right to take action to secure that participants fulfill the criteria

What to expect in this workshop

5 basic elements in working with hypo-arousal will be presented – 1 element will be the focus in each out of 5 of the sessions – and 2 sessions will focus on integration:

  • 1 - March 2

    Repetition of micro-activations – and differentiation between hypo-response and hypo-arousal. Differentiation between 3 degrees of stress. How does it impact you to start relating to hypo-arousal/collapse – and what supports you in doing it?

  • 2 - March 16

    Proprioception and interoception. Strengthening proprioception creates safety and better motor control with the effect of being more present in the moment. Combined with a kind and mindful interoceptive awareness it is possible to establish a relationship to hypo-arousal as parts of ourself and others.

  • 3 - March 30

    Externalisation and/or visualisation used as a method to establish a relationship to hypo-arousal - instead of identifying with it, trying to contain it – or polarising to it. How does the body matter in this process?

  • 4 - April 20

    Integration-time: time for personal and professional integration

  • 5 - May 4

    Strengthening the boundary between the self and hypo-arousal – and between different levels of low energy states. How do we support a sense of boundary between natural tiredness, hypo-response and hypo-arousal – and what is the impact of sensing these boundaries? When these boundaries become stable enough a natural swing from hypo-arousal (3rd degree stress) into hyper-arousal (2nd degree stress) can emerge.

  • 6 - May 18

    Identity – has this workshop impacted how you relate to your own and other’s hypo-arousal – and how does this impact your professional role? – Hypo-arousal is very often not integrated after trauma. What does it do to us professionally and personally to include it?

  • 7 - June 1

    Integration-time – Q&As – time for personal and professional integration

And further more...

  • Between the sessions

    Between sessions participants can connect to each other and discuss learnings from the workshop on - a protected online-platform. Experience shows that the dosing principle matters when using this possibility for connection. The course can awaken material that benefits from being processed in contact with a therapist or people from your network that can match the experiences emerging.

  • Training & support groups

    Participants can choose to form training/support-groups. Organizing of these groups are in the hands of the participants – and an initiative to form a group can be communicated on the student-exchange to get started

  • You will gain

    Clinicians participating in this training will gain a basic understanding of and practice in including modification of hypo-response and relating to hypo-arousal together with a client in the map of trauma therapeutic methodology

  • Step 2 and further posibilities

    This is step 2 in RTT online international courses. We will offer a step 3 focusing on working with disgust – and maybe a step 4 focusing on shame

  • Step 1

    Step 1 “Including and awakening hypo-response” has run in winter/spring 2021 and in fall/winter/2021/2022. Step 1 will be offered again in Fall 2022. A date is soon to be released.

Course leaders

and course manager

CEO and Senior trainer Merete Holm Brantbjerg

Merete Holm Brantbjerg, body-psychotherapist, member of the Danish Psychotherapist Organisation and of EABP, founder of Relational Trauma-therapy – international trainer – specialised in working with low dosed muscle-activation as an aspect of trauma-therapeutic methodology. Merete is situated in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Trainer Kolbjørn Vårdal

Kolbjørn Vårdal, body-psychotherapist, Masters degree in trauma work, member of EABP, co-founder of Relational Trauma therapy, international trainer, specialised in including neurologically informed training as a trauma-therapeutic methodology. Kolbjørn is situated in Oslo, Norway, - where he lives with his family

Course Manager Ayuna Pedersen

Ayuna Pedersen - Danish SE-practitioner and trauma-therapist - is filling out the role as assistant in relationship to this RTT online-platform. Ayuna has been active in establishing the platform - and will be active in maintaining and updating it - answering technical questions from those who ask them over email. The assistant role will also be active in the course itself. Ayuna will be participating in the zoom-meetings and will be available for technical and potentially other kinds of support during the meetings.

Practical information

  • Dates

    7 live online-sessions of 3 hrs on 7 Wednesdays March 2 2022, March 16 2022 – OBS timedifference differs – one hour less than normal, March 30 2022, April 20 2022, May 4 2022, May 18 2022, June 1 2022

  • Times:

    4-7 pm UTC (Coordinated Universal time, Greenwich mean time), 5-8 pm CET UTC + 1, 6-9 pm EET (Eastern European time) UTC + 2, 11 am – 2 pm EST (Eastern North America) UTC – 5, 8-11 am PST (Pacific Standard Time) UTC -8, 11.30pm -2.30 am ACST (Australian Central Standard Time) UTC + 9.30

  • Please note

    If you are in a different time-zone than the above mentioned – please look up what time will be yours. Please be aware that Daylight savings time shifts in CET on March 27 – and in Northamerica on March 13 – this means that the time-difference is impacted on March 16. The time-difference will be one hour shorter than normal. Please check your local shift to see if this fits for where you are in the world as well

  • Teaching hours

    Teaching hrs are on 5-8 pm CET all 7 times

  • Live-sessions and Online platfom

    We use Zoom, a cloud-based video communications app for our Live virtual sessions. The Zoom-link will be made available over email prior to each session. All workshop-material will be made available on

  • Max size of course-group

    The course has a maximum number of 100 participants 100

  • Fee

    Early bird registration – with sign up and payment prior to February 1st: 680 US$. Later sign up and payment: 720 US$. For sign up and payment go to Deadline for joining the course is March 2nd 2022

  • Material and online course platform

    Workshop curriculum and All workshop-material will be made available on

  • Students from the hypo-response course spring 2021

    If you sign up for the “Sitting on the edge of an abyss together” - course - and you participated in the hypo-response course in the spring, you will for replay, get access to the recordings from your course in a period from February 1st - March 2nd

'Sitting on the edge of an abyss together' - working with hypo-arousal

Next version of this course will come again. Dates are being planed and will be posted on our site as soon they are ready. We look forward to work together with you.

Best regards from Merete, Kolbjørn and Ayuna
working with hypo-arousal