Keeping the Brain in Mind: How knowing more about the brain can help you become a better therapist
We are bombarded daily by unrelenting stress. Our nervous systems struggle to keep up, and unless we were securely "wired up" from infancy, our mind/brain/body systems dysregulate too easily. This inability to emotionally regulate manifests itself in the symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, somatic illnesses, loneliness and conflict that our clients bring to us. That same emotional arousal feeds our runaway addiction to substances, food, sex, work, rage, electronic devices and the compulsion for constant activity.
This symposium will review the emerging research in neuroscience, with approaches derived from the latest formulations and work of Allan Schore, Dan Siegel, Daniel Stern, Antonio Demasio, Joseph LeDoux, Stephen Porges, Bessel van der Kolk, Pat Ogden, Louis Cozolino, Stan Tatkin and others, that point to the need for healing in the circuitry of the right hemisphere, dominant for intuition, empathy, intense emotionality, a coherent sense of "self", deep attachments and the knowledge of how "to be" in intimate relationship.
We begin with a brief explanation of the neural anatomy necessary to understand this model, review the relevant aspects from the attachment literature, and then turn to individual psychotherapy and the importance of the right hemispheric healing that goes on beneath the words and the particular theoretical clinical approach we espouse. We then explore couples work using Schore's regulation theory to help partners learn to regulate excessively high and low affects that damage trust and interfere with emotional intimacy.
The course ends with an exploration of empathy and love in deep relational work, and an empowering explanation of how we act in our offices, as "neural architects," reshaping and remolding our client's brains, and engaging so deeply that the work profoundly reshapes our brains as well.
Experiential exercises are employed to engage those same right hemispheric subcortical structures in the participants and give more than an intellectual grasp of the material. Participants will be guided in a "Mindfulness" exercise illustrating changes in the left and right hemispheres during the experience. The 'Still Face' experiments of Ed Tronick are briefly replicated, providing a subjective experience of the sudden loss of interpersonal connectivity that tethers us to one another and to our own intrapersonal sense of "Self". Rich clinical vignettes, case material and dozens of colored illustrations and photographs augment the verbal material.
You will learn:
- About the origins of psychopathology as trauma to the early developing right hemisphere resulting in an inability to regulate affect and arousal.
- To acquire a grasp of the neurology underlying intense and dysregulated states, including anxiety, addiction, trauma, and dissociative states.
- To acquire an appreciation for how we, as psychotherapists, function as "neuro-architects," reshaping both the function and neural structure of our clients' brains.
- To expand the capacity to teach affect regulation skills to clients and/or their families.
- To be able to read the neurological literature with increased familiarity with the physiology, terminology, and prevailing assumptions and beliefs.
- To be able to create healing interventions that utilize the latest clinical research.
Introduction and Overview
Neurological Origins of Psychopathology
The Right Hemisphere-Working with the Non-verbal Mind
Working Neurologically in Couples' Therapy
Empathy and Love in Psychotherapy
Francine Lapides, M.F.T. My writings and workshops focus on attachment and psycho-neurobiological theories and their applications to relational and psychodynamic psychotherapy and to adult romantic relationships. Practicing since 1971, I have trained extensively with Daniel Siegel, am a member of Allan Schore's Berkeley study group, and have been strongly influenced by relational principles developed at The Stone Center at Wellesley College. I have taught at workshops and conferences across the United States, and have an online seminar entitled: Keeping the Brain in Mind available at PsyBC. I am a founding member of the Santa Cruz Society for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (SCPPS).
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