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Over the last decades, the studies on the brain and on psychotherapy have underlined that what happens within the therapist-patient dyad has an impact on the microarchitecture of the brain. Furthermore, with the passing of time, the relationship between the development of several areas of the brain during the process of growth and the experiences that each individual makes later on, has been increasingly explored. Consequently, not only researchers have succeeded in understanding the links between the different areas of the human brain, but they have also become aware of the influence that the functioning of some specific areas of the brain has on the mental health (or the psychopathology) of each human being. Besides this, these studies have shown the effects of every individual’s relationships on the development and the functioning of his/her brain all over the course of life.
Modern psychotherapy, based on both neurophysiology and neurobiology, has been increasingly oriented towards the creation of a therapeutic relationship where the therapist has a mindful attitude to his/her own patient, while the latter can make new experiences, which are able to change his/her neural patterns of functioning and to make them healthier.
Some of the most eminent experts in the fields of Cognitive Neurophysiology, Neurobiology and Psychotherapy, will meet in New York to attend the Congress “Attachment and Trauma: The Neurobiology of Healing” – organized, for the very first time, in the “Big Apple”, near the vibrant Times Square – to share and integrate their vast knowledge on this subject. After a 60-minute intervention, each speaker will focus on a 30-minute question-and-answer session with the audience. Finally, at the end of each day, all the speakers that have made a presentation will gather in a 180-minute panel discussion, to further analyze different specific topics.
What will this event be about?
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The Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe
Safety is critical in enabling humans to optimize their potential. The neurophysiological processes associated with feeling safe are a prerequisite not only for social behavior but also for accessing both the higher brain structures that enable humans to be creative and generative and the lower brain structures involved in regulating health, growth, and restoration. The Polyvagal Theory explains how social behavior turns off defenses and promotes opportunities to feel safe. It provides an innovative model to understand bodily responses to trauma and stress and the importance of the client’s physiological state in mediating the effectiveness of clinical treatments. From a Polyvagal perspective, interventions that target the capacity to feel safe and use social behavior to regulate physiological state can be effective in treating psychological disorders that are dependent on defense systems.
Daniel L. Siegel
The Mind in Mental Health: How Defining the Mind Empowers the Healing Process
The field of mental health, along with a range of academic disciplines focusing on the mind, rarely define what “mind” actually is. With a range of descriptions of emotion, consciousness, and thought, we naturally have a sense of what we mean by this commonly used term. But without even a working definition of what the mind is, we are left without a common ground, and without a clear view of what a healthy mind might in fact be. In this presentation, we will offer a definition of one aspect of the mind as an embodied and relational, emergent self-organizing process that regulates the flow of energy and information. Optimal self-organization arises with the differentiation and linkage of elements of a system—a process of “integration.” Without integration, systems move toward chaos, rigidity, or both—as is seen with post traumatic stress conditions. The neurobiology of abuse and neglect, for example, result in impairments to the growth of the integrative fibers of the brain, including the corpus callosum, the hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex. Healing emerges with identifying chaos and rigidity and offering the experiences that can now promote the growth of integration, in the brain and in the relationships that are the inner and interpersonal sources of the emergent mind.
Can information obtained from blood provide meaningful information to clinicians seeking information relevant to detection of risk, prognosis, diagnosis or treatment response related to PTSD? To date, there have been numerous, large efforts underway to detect PTSD biomarkers. This presentation will review the rationale for new integrative biological approaches towards biomarker detection in PTSD as well provide an update on the state of the science and data thus far. Knowledge about molecular networks is critical for informing treatment innovation for PTSD, and blood markers have the greatest potential for widespread application. A scientific risk is that peripheral blood will not reflect the brain regions associated with PTSD, but validation studies with animals comparing blood to brain, and reprogrammed human neuronal cell comparisons. These approaches, and the data that can be obtained from them, will be discussed. The presentation will also comment on what promising future data can be anticipated towards the development of customized precision medicine techniques. Indeed, to the extent that molecular disruptions related to PTSD can be identified, it will be possible to use novel drug repositioning approaches to identify novel treatments for PTSD.
Emotions in action. Emotion regulation and recognition in traumatized and neglected young individuals.
According to a widely shared perspective, experiencing and expressing a given emotion are two different and independent processes. I’ll propose an alternative perspective: the behaviour connected to a specific emotion is part of the emotion itself. In my talk I will present and discuss recent neuroscientific studies showing the link between emotion experience and expression. I will also present recent empirical research on the impact of trauma and neglect on emotion regulation and recognition in children and young adolescents.
Allan N. Schore
The growth-promoting role of mutual regression in deep psychotherapy
Dr. Schore will discuss his ongoing theoretical and clinical work on therapeutic expertise in facilitating structural changes in the patient’s early developing right brain attachment and stress regulating systems. He will focus on right brain systems of the deep unconscious, and how they can be directly accessed in treatment. Expanding his neurobiological studies of interpersonal creativity and clinical intuition he will present neuropsychoanalytic models of both structural and topographic regression in the treatment of early attachment trauma, and will differentiate clinical work with spontaneous enactments and controlled mutual regressions at different stages of therapy. He will argue that the concept of regression, banished at the end of the last century, needs to return to the clinical literature.
Bonding and attachment physiology: renegotiation/restoration of the broken connection
Identifying, Unzipping, and Reassigning "Protector" Parts in Dissociated Clients
This practical talk shows how to use ego state therapy (and EMDR, if you know it) to work with entrenched and often self-destructive parts that may "protect" clients from uncomfortable (negative or positive) affect, intimacy, or new, positive experiences in their healing process.
A Framework for Undoing Aloneness and Doing Transformational Work in AEDP
Four foundational aspects of AEDP (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy) allow it to reliably do transformational work and transform suffering into flourishing:
(i) Its healing orientation, and its belief, supported by neurobiology and recent advances in neuroplasticity, that we are all self-righting organisms wired with an innate motivational tendency, towards health, healing and growth, which in the right environments, can be potentiated into clinical action;
(ii) Undoing the aloneness that people feel in the face of overwhelming emotional experiences through an attachment-based stance and dyadic affect regulatory techniques;
(iii) Mobilizing subcortical affective systems specialized to adapt to environmental changes by rapidly transforming behavior through its experiential interventions and transformational work with intense emotions;
(iv) Metatherapeutic processing techniques, where, by experientially working with the experience of transformation, and the positive emotions invariably associated with moments of change for the better, non-finite upward spirals of positive emotions are systematically activated. The positive emotions that fuel the self with energy and vitality, are the vehicles of neuroplasticity that, in effect, re-wire the brain.
AEDP emphasizes the co-creation of safety: with accompaniment, patients can risk revisiting past trauma and suffering. Healing and neuroplasticity are set in motion through fully experiencing previously feared emotions in a secure relationship, and through gentle, yet focused, explicit attention to the experience of healing within the patient-therapist relationship. Processing both traumatic and restorative emotional experiences to completion, the AEDP process culminates in vitality, energy, and the non-finite positive emotion-fueled spirals of resilience, well-being and creativity that are so highly correlated with health.
Clinical videotapes of AEDP in action will be used to illuminate how, through undoing aloneness and experiential work with transformational experience, emotional suffering can be not only ameliorated, but systematically and reliably transformed into resilience, flourishing, and well being.
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* If different types of credits are available (ECM, CPD and CE), please choose them according to your needs.
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