This workshop will introduce how using sensory modulation as a clinical or community based intervention can support service users to moderate their sensory input and maintain or regain a sense of calm. Not only will it provide an overview of the anatomy and function of the brainstem and limbic system in relation to neural regulation, but it will show how trauma alters the nervous system, and what we might do to minimise distress.  

Since implementing sensory modulation in 2010, the team at North Shore One has had feedback from service users about the benefits of the intervention. Service users, as well as the people close to them, credit sensory modulation for helping them to feel calmer, relieve anxiety, cope better and decrease the need for re-admission to hospital. Evidence suggests that sensory modulation is a useful way of demonstrating to service users that they can choose more useful ways to respond to distress when given the right tools and environment.

This workshop involves discussion about the theoretical basis of sensory modulation, but the focus is on examining ways of applying practical strategies to everyday life. During this workshop, the group will brainstorm coping strategies and work through handouts to help each person identify things that have calming or alerting effects on them. It is important that delegates maintain a sense of playfulness and curiosity as they get to try a range of sensory tools and practice using different strategies to moderate their level of arousal as giving real-life examples of sensory modulation is a crucial way of personalising and normalising the skills being taught. 

This then reinforces delegate understanding of how sensory modulation is based on skills that anyone can use to cope with overwhelming emotions or experiences.

This workshop is delivered with the assistance of Waitemata DHB.

Learning Outcomes

The workshop is broken into three key sessions where delegates explore:

1. What is sensory modulation and how can I use it in my practice to allow service users to feel better?

  • Understand the influence of the nervous system.
  • Identify stimuli that are calming versus alerting.
  • Understand the role of sensory modulation in acute situations.
  • Understand the role of a sensory diet in maintaining a calm state of arousal.

2. What are the tools available and how can I incorporate them in my practise?

  • Introduce the concept of arousal level.
  • Trial and understand use of weighted modalities.
  • Understand use of the sensory room.
  • Trial a range of sensory tools.
  • Begin to identify which tools/strategies may enable us to maintain an optimum arousal level.

3. What are the tools, how do they make service users feel, and how do we monitor these?  

  • Identify which tools/strategies may enable us to maintain an optimum arousal level.
  • Observe arousal levels through a ‘normal’ day.
  • How to create a sensory diet.
  • Identify a range of strategies to use when working with a distressed/anxious service user.

Who should attend

This workshop is ideal for clinical and allied staff, counsellors, social workers, key workers, and support workers who meet with service users in distress or tense environments.

Andrea Dempsey

Andrea Dempsey is the professional lead for occupational therapy in mental health at Waitemata DHB. She has taken a lead in implementing sensory modulation and trauma informed strategies both locally and nationally and is a recognised and a compassionate authority on how we can use these tools to improve the experiences of service users. Andrea has recently also completed her masters thesis investigating a brief sensory intervention for people experiencing anxiety.

Dates & Locations

Tuesday, 26 March 2019
The Hotel Nelson
40 Waimea Road, Nelson

Wednesday, 1 May 2019
Quality Hotel Parnell
10-20 Gladstone Road, Parnell, Auckland

Thursday, 16 May 2019
St Andrew's On The Terrace
30 The Terrace, Wellington

Workshops run 9.00am - 3.30pm. Registration from 8.30am

Price & Registration

One Day Workshops
Earlybird Special – $247.00 + GST
Standard Price - $275.00 + GST

Registration process

Payment is by credit card only and there are 3 easy steps to complete the online booking process.
Upon completion of your registration, you will receive an automated confirmation email. If you have any issues or questions about your booking, please contact Nathalie van Dort on 06 878 3456 or email:

What happens if you have to cancel?

We know that sometimes your plans can change for many different reasons. Should you be unable to attend, a substitute delegate is welcome to attend at no extra cost. If a substitute delegate is not available and you need to cancel your registration, please be aware of the following:

Up to 7 days prior to the event you will be provided a refund of your registration cost, less a $50.00 plus GST service charge

If you cancel within 7 days of the event, you are not eligible to receive a refund. Please note: should your registration not be paid by the time of the event, you are still liable to make the payment. Unpaid accounts may be passed over to our debt collection agency and additional costs may be incurred. 

All cancellations must be received in writing (email). You will be sent the event's materials upon request.

Delegates are responsible for their own travel/accommodation bookings and no compensation will be made should the event be rescheduled or cancelled.

Please note: GROW Ltd reserves the right to make any amendments that we may deem to be in the best interest of the forum – it is however very unlikely and we will notify you as soon as possible should this occur.

For more information see our full Terms of Trade.

Further Details

Morning tea and lunch are included.

Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options will be available. In an effort to keep the price as low as possible, other special dietary requirements are unable to be catered for. You are however welcome to bring your own snacks and lunch.

Our Partners


For further details, please contact:
Nathalie van Dort at or
Phone: 06 878 3456