The Neuropsychotherapist

The Neuropsychotherapist August 2017

The Neuropsychotherapist is the quintessential publication bridging the gap between science and the practice of psychotherapy for mental health professionals.

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1 min
from the editor

Neural plasticity, which describes the capacity of our nervous system to respond and adapt to experience, is a fundamental principle of neuropsychotherapy. This month, Dr. Haley Peckham introduces neuroplasticity as the new paradigm for understanding and treating mental health issues, from both a philosophical and a scientific perspective. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Dr. Peckham and also respected therapist and neuroscience educator Richard Hill to our advisory board. I have worked closely with both talented and generous individuals since the foundation of The Neuropsychotherapist project and am grateful for the much support and professional wisdom they have lent to this publication. For couples therapists we have a special treat from Stan Tatkin, who shares his Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) in “How Couples Change”. Working with…

9 min

In recent years, there has been growing interest in exploring the role of diet in mental health and how important it is. After all, doesn’t nutrition fuel our brain and affect all of its functions, including mood? Observational studies from across various age groups and countries have in general shown a positive association between an overall healthy eating pattern and mental well-being, especially in relation to common mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety (Lai et al., 2014; O’Neil et al., 2014; Psaltopoulou et al., 2013; Sanchez-Villegas et al., 2009). In these previous studies, a healthy eating pattern was generally found to be based on diets high in fruits and vegetables, unprocessed grains and fish, and low in processed foods—a pattern consistent with what is known as the Mediterranean…

19 min
neuroplasticity a new paradigm for understanding and treating mental health issues

“The beginnings of living systems set the stage for every aspect of an organism’s internal and external functioning throughout the lifespan.”(Schore, 2012, p. 224) The dominant paradigm for understanding and treating mental health issues is the medical model. The medical model is rooted in science. Broadly speaking, it assumes and seeks to identify pathology in the brain and, through basic research and subsequent high quality clinical trials, find pharmacological treatments or biomedical interventions that will cure or at least alleviate symptoms of the mental illness. This biomedical approach provides a diagnosis of an illness, which may be experienced as a relief by the consumer. The provision of a diagnosis endorses the illness. Certain assumptions also attend the idea of illness—such as it not being within someone’s capacity to control and the symptoms…

4 min

AUGUST 14-18 19th World Congress of Psycho-oncology Berlin, Germany “Cancer throughout the lifespan: Addressing the psychosocial needs of diverse populations” is our congress theme. The congress will focus on specific symptom burden, distress and psychosocial care needs throughout the lifespan from children and young adults to the elderly with cancer and the needs of diverse cancer populations. http://www.ipos2017.com/ 21-23 18th International Mental Health Conference Gold Coast, Australia This year’s conference will examine a range of issues from the perspective of Primary Interventions, Promoting Recovery, Prevention and the latest Policy Initiatives. Mental health awareness and wellbeing strategies remain urgent public concerns. The Conference will focus on the range of complex mental issues affecting the elderly including depression, dementia and anxiety. It will also explore the mental health issues of young Australians and how we can influence, educate and promote change. Featuring Australia…

42 min
how couples change

Couples therapy has a long history of ineffectiveness (Gurman, 1973), possibly because early approaches attempted to retrofit cognitive, behavioral, and psychoanalytic models to a dyadic system (the couple), and possibly due to lack of specialization in the field of dyadic systems. Systems theory seemed to promise a more appropriate model for family therapy; however, that too did not fully address the intersubjective, phenomenological problems of the two-person system (Olson, 1970). To meet the complexity of the couple system, an integrated psychobiological approach to couples therapy—one that addresses that system from a bottom-up, procedural memory perspective—is recommended. In essence, this approach combines the contributions of three key domains: attachment theory, arousal and affect regulation, and developmental neuroscience. The last of these dimensions encompasses social–emotional deficits and issues of brain integration along…

11 min
the story of you:

There is so much I want to say and share about the importance of having a coherent narrative, and how one achieves that. Sometimes I think its simpler and clearer to talk about it in educational rather than psychological terms…in as far as what we learn early in life creates the template for all that follows. We know this, as therapists…it seems obvious. But we forget. A poet I read just last week, Grace Gluck, said it beautifully: We look at the world once; in childhood…the rest is memory. This idea was echoed later in the week at a guided meditation I attended, the teacher said: The Buddha found enlightenment, not in the study of books, nor acts of service, but by sitting beneath a tree and suddenly recalling one…