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A Brain Science Approach to Couples Therapy

Using Brain Science in Therapy to Alter Mood States

Brent Atkinson • 2/26/2015 • No Comments

When clients become upset, they're in the grip of one of seven major body-brain mood states, also referred to as "executive operating systems." These are more than just passing moods. They're complex neurochemical cascades, in which hormones race through the body and brain and electrical impulses fly over familiar neural synapses, shaping what we feel, do, and think. This hormonal cascade can be lifesaving in the appropriate situation---in the face of a dangerous driver, say, or a possible mugger or rapist. But in intimate relationships, it's often toxic. In my work as a couples therapist, I train my clients to reactivate the neocortex---the inner switchmaster---in the face of strong emotion.

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A Brain Science Strategy for Overwriting Traumatic Memories

Creating Juxtaposition Experiences to Relieve Trauma Symptoms

Bruce Ecker • 11/10/2015 • 3 Comments

What we clinicians have learned in recent years about the intricacies of the brain's implicit memory systems has certainly helped us better recognize the linkage between distressing or traumatic experiences and many of the previously puzzling symptoms clients bring to our offices. But now brain science is beginning ...

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A Conference for People Who Hate Conferences

Networker Symposium 2014: Psychotherapy’s Most Celebrated Anti-Conference

Rich Simon • 12/22/2013 • No Comments

Genuine learning is conveyed via experience; something happening that resonates emotionally as well as intellectually, something that literally alters the wiring of our brains, changes the sense we have of ourselves, even changes us.

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A New Way to Engage Teen Clients

Today’s Video: Dan Siegel on the Power of Teenage Brain

Rich Simon • 7/21/2014 • 3 Comments

Dan Siegel, author of Brainstorm: The Power and the Purpose of the Teenage Brain, knows that nobody—especially an angst-filled teenager—likes being told what to do. As creative and adventurous as they may be, you’re likely to get eye rolls and crossed arms when you tell them, for instance, that the best way to control their anger toward their parents is through breathing exercises. That’s why Dan takes a more roundabout approach. “Would you like to know more about your brain?” he asks first. Only when the answer is yes—or rather, “Sure, why not? I’ve got nothing better to do.”—can you break out the brain science.

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A Week of Silence

Quieting the Mind and Liberating the Self

Dan Siegel • 9/15/2014 • 1 Comment

I'm flying from Los Angeles to Boston for a week-long meditation retreat, and I'm feeling nervous. For the next seven days, I'll be sitting in silence with 100 other scientists at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, at an event sponsored by the Mind and Life Institute, an organization devoted to the scientific study of mindfulness and compassion. The event is unique: when before have 100 scientists, most of whom specialize in studying the brain, gathered together to sit in silence for a week and learn "mindfulness meditation"?

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Accessing Emotional Discomfort with Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

What Neuroscience and Attachment Teach Us About Healing Stress in the Body

Janina Fisher • 10/15/2015 • No Comments

The more we learn about the brain, the more apparent it becomes that, if we're to guide people in the process of change, we need to pay at least as much attention to the body and nervous system---theirs and ours---as to words, emotions, and meaning-making---which, until recently, have been the major focus of therapy. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, a body-centered talk-therapy approach, allows us to navigate tumultuous transferential relationships and therapeutic impasses in creative, satisfying, and often moving ways.

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Adult Attachment Disorder: 3 Detours to the Right Hemisphere

For Clients with Adult Attachment Disorder, Use the Left Hemisphere to Guide You to the Right

Mary Sykes Wylie and Lynn Turner • 1/30/2014 • 5 Comments

"People with avoidant attachment histories are too closed down to have access to experience their right-hemisphere processes," says Daniel Siegel, who's probably done as much as anybody in the field to induce therapists to clasp both attachment theory and neuroscience to their collective bosom.

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Applying the Brakes

In Trauma Treatment, Safety is Essential

Babette Rothschild • 9/3/2014 • 2 Comments

My approach to trauma work is rooted in an experience I had in college. A friend asked me to teach her to drive--in a new car my father had just given me. Sitting in the passenger seat next to her as she prepared to turn on the ignition, I suddenly panicked. I quickly realized that before I taught her how to make that powerful machine go, I had to make sure that she knew how to put on the brakes. I apply the same principle to therapy, especially trauma therapy. I never help clients call forth traumatic memories unless I and my clients are confident that the flow of their anxiety, emotion, memories, and body sensations can be contained at will.

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Are Therapists Overly Enamored with Brain Science?

Why the Essence of Brain Change Begins with Building Inner Strengths

Rick Hanson • 8/2/2016 • No Comments

By Rick Hanson - It’s perfectly natural to be enthralled by the explosive growth of neuroscience research and how it's offering evidence for the effectiveness of different therapeutic methods. But people come to therapists because they want something to change: they want to feel or act differently or understand themselves or others better. These changes of mind, of course, require changes of brain. But in many ways, the essence of therapy is developing inner strengths.

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Assessing the Unintegrated Brain

How to Change the Brain in Therapy

Rich Simon • 6/11/2014 • 1 Comment

It’s one thing to throw around the scientific-sounding language of brain science, it’s another to actually develop concrete clinical procedures based on our advancing understanding of the brain that make therapy more effective.

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