Feedback from the autonomic nervous system…where does this fit in to the Model?


Hi, I’m a psychologist and am trying to work out how to align the way I work with the model. It’s almost a perfect fit but I’m wondering about the automatic responses from our nervous system and where they fit in to the Model.

I work form the perspective that our autonomic nervous system is constantly assessing our environment for threat as its job is to keep us safe. This happens at a subconscious level and can trigger fight/flight before conscious awareness. There are individual differences that influence how our nervous system is triggered and reacts to stimuli (ie., past experiences, genetic disposition, sensory sensitivities). Then our brain uses this information to create the thought and this results in feelings which lead to our action and then to the result.

My question: Do you consider the feedback from our nervous system a Circumstance? I’m more inclined to think there is an extra line to your model in between C and T. There is a circumstance, and our autonomic nervous system responds to it unconsciously, then we have thoughts about it and so on… OR do you not view the nervous system in this way?

An example:
C: Child hits sibling
Nervous System Response: Fight or flight response triggers release of adrenaline and cortisol
T: (the brain uses info from the circumstance and the feedback from the nervous system to make the interpretation) You’re going to break his arm!
F: Fear
A: Yells at child
R: Child cries and parent feels guilty for yelling

I would really love to embrace the Model with my clients but I am reluctant because befriending our nervous system is a fundamental part of my approach and I’m not sure how it fits in or if you view it the same way.