My ProcessTheoretical foundations to what I do in therapy
Part 1: Discovery
- Unpack your story
- Discover you unique patterns
- Understand your “operating system” at an emotional level
Part 2: Safety
- Down-regulate anxiety and fear
- Strengthen helpful connections between brain regions
- Set up ideal conditions for new learning
Part 3: Rewire
- Identify old patterns and preferred new patterns
- Rewrite old neural patterns through a mismatch process
- Reconsolidate new neural networks as your default “operating system”
Part 4: Freedom
- Reinforce resilient “approach” patterns to life
- Iron out any remaining unwanted neural patterns
- Learn to be brain savvy with techniques to keep you living well
The science behind the therapy
My practice comes from a framework called neuropsychotherapy. This therapeutic orientation considers our neurobiology to understand behaviour and guide interventions. Some of the major areas of influence for my practice are detailed below.
Person-centered therapy was developed by psychologist Carl Rogers in the 40s & 50s as a talk-psychotherapy that emphasised the importance of the relationship between therapist and client to provide a ‘safe’ place to explore emotions and experiences. The therapeutic conditions that Rogers asserted as important, have become foundational conditions for effective change across many styles of therapy. Some of these core conditions are:
- A relationship between therapist and client where each person’s perception of the other is important.
- The therapist has unconditional positive regard for the client, without any judgment.
- The therapist is completely genuine and engaged.
- The therapist has an empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference.
The person-centered approach to therapy is the foundation from which I relate to clients and endeavour to really connect with them in a genuine and deeply empathic way. This engagement between therapist and client is one of the most powerful factors for positive change.
Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Allan Schore have been instrumental in establishing a broad field called interpersonal neurobiology that aims to bring together a wide range of disciplines to understand human experience. From this perspective we can weave research and practice from many different areas into a more holistic understanding of our behaviour and how best to help people.
Our mental health and behaviour is dependent on many elements such as our social life, childhood, diet, physical fitness, nervous system, brain functions, and genes, just to name a few broad categories. As a counsellor, psychotherapist, and journal editor, I am continually studying areas of neuroscience, psychology, biology, sociology, and related areas to grasp a more holistic vision of my clients.
I understand, through the explorations of interpersonal neurobiology, that your ability to be resilient and enjoy life requires that we consider elements in your life such as:
- Diet – What and how you are eating plays a major role in your wellbeing.
- Exercise – Your physical wellbeing is linked to your emotional and mental wellbeing.
- Social Dynamics – Relationships are so important, we are just wired that way.
- Sleep – Quality sleep is essential and poor sleep can seriously hamper you.
- Interests – Keeping your brain active and engaged as you age is vital for continuing mental health.
- Spirituality – The sense of purpose and the existential questions of life cannot be ignored.
Coherence therapy is a psychotherapy method that identifies core “knowings”, or “constructs”, that drive our thoughts and behaviour—often without us realising what these knowings are. By bringing these constructs into conscious awareness (by understanding the emotional logic behind our thoughts and actions) change can come about by a process know as memory reconsolidation. When emotional logic is causing us to think and react in ways that are maladaptive, destructive, stressful, or otherwise incompatible with the way we want to be, then deeply established neural networks need to be changed. Memory reconsolidation is a neural process whereby a particular emotional memory can be “unlocked” and changed by new information that “disconfirms” the old.
I consider emotional memory reconsolidation the key to transformational change and it has a central place in my practice.
A holistic understanding of mental wellbeing takes into consideration the biochemical processes of mental activity and how the naturally occurring molecules (orthomolecular) derived from our diet play a crucial role in mental health. When there are issues in your biochemical processes, like under or over methylation, your mental wellbeing can be at risk.
Although I do not diagnose or prescribe treatment for biochemical issues, I am aware of some of the main issues that can arise and how they typically manifest in peoples behaviour and mental states. I have worked closely with naturopaths and medical doctors who do diagnose and treat such imbalances and have studied and written on the subject for The Neuropsychotherapist.
Selected professional development that has influenced my therapeutic approach:
- Memory and the Human Lifespan – Prof. Steve Joordens (University of Toronto Scarborough)
- Trauma and the human needs – Pieter Rossouw (UQ)
- Applied treatment for trauma victims – Pieter Rossouw (UQ)
- The Consistency Model and Neuroscience – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- The Neuroscience of Attachment – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- The Need For Control –The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Self-esteem Enhancement – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- The Neuroscience of Distress & Pleasure – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Panic & The Brain – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Treatment of Panic – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- The Addicted Brain – Dr. Michael Kuhar (Emory University)
- Trauma & The Development of the Brain – Dr. Pieter Rossouw (UQ)
- Trauma & Neurofeedback – Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
- Trauma, Attachment & Neuroscience: New Psychotherapeutic Treatments – Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
- The Triune Brain – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Genes, Neurons, & Glia – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Cortical Blood Flow and Neural Connectivity –The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- The Limbic System – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Basic Principles of Neuroscience – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Neuroscience & Physiology of Trauma – Dr. Robert Scaer, & Dr. Stephen Porges
- Integrating the Developing Mind in Psychotherapy – Prof. Daniel Siegel (UCLA School of Medicine)
- The neural principles of memory and trauma – Dr. Pieter Rossouw (UQ)
- Understanding memory – the basis of trauma – Dr. Pieter Rossouw (UQ)
- A neuropsychotherapeutic model of trauma – Dr. Pieter Rossouw (UQ)
- GAD – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Treating GAD – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Social Anxiety – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Treating SAD – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Coherence Therapy Training Course – Australian Network of Coherence Therapy Practitioners
- Externship in Emotionally Focused Therapy – Dr. Susan Johnson
- Traumatology: Theory and clinical applications – Dr. Pieter Rossouw (UQ)
- How Neuroscience Informs Psychotherapy – QCA/Dr. Pieter Rossouw
- Understanding the Brain – Prof. Jeanette Norden (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine)
- The Neo Cortex – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- The Neuroscience of Talking Therapies – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Key Neurochemicals –The Neuropsychotherapy Institute
- Memory, Learning, & Mental Processes – The Neuropsychotherapy Institute