Dealing effectively with challenges and crises is the core of resilience and well-being. Helping clients develop flexible and adaptive strategies for coping with everyday disappointments, existential dread, and extraordinary disasters is the heart of the therapeutic process. Helping clients harness the brain’s processes of change to rewire coping strategies that are defensive, dysfunctional, and blocking of growth, and to encode new more flexible patterns of response, is the focus of this workshop.
Modern neuroscience is teaching us how to use the brain’s innate neuroplasticity to rewire coping behaviors, even when they are seemingly “stuck” and intractable. Clinicians will learn through didactics, experiential exercises, and group discussions, which tools and techniques of brain change best help clients reverse the impact of stress and trauma, come out of anxiety, depression, grief, loneliness, guilt and shame, deepen the self-compassion and empathy that connect them to their inner resources, strengthen the resonant relationships that foster perseverance, and shift their perspectives through mindful awareness to discern options and make wise choices.
Participants will learn to apply these tools and techniques, which underlie the therapeutic modalities they are already familiar with – Internal Family Systems, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, AEDP. DBT, EFT – to five intelligences – somatic, emotional, relational within ourselves, relational with others, reflective – and develop a healthy resilience mindset that supports well-being and flourishing. Clinicians will also learn to apply these tools to their own brain care as self-care to avoid compassion fatigue and burnout.
Basics of Neuroscience of Resilience
* Capacities of resilience innate in the brain; focus on response flexibility in center of executive functioning
* Impact of attachment conditioning, including early developmental trauma, on brain development and resilience
* Mechanisms of brain change to create new neural pathways, rewire old traumatic memories, and access the “mental play space” of imagination and visualization to connect the dots in new ways
* Executive functions of the pre-frontal cortex – the brain’s CEO of resilience
* Lifestyle choices that promote neurogenesis, accelerate brain change, and prevent-reduce-reverse cognitive decline
* Body-based tools to regulate the nervous system’s automatic survival responses, and return the body-brain to its natural physiological equilibrium
* Application of polyvagal theory to generate a neuroception of safety, and prime the brain’s plasticity-receptivity to learning
* Cultivating positive, pro-social emotions to shift the functioning of the brain out of contraction and reactivity to more openness, receptivity, the bigger picture.
* Exercises to manage signal anxiety when facing the new or the unknown
* Practices of mindfulness and self-compassion to antidote the brain’s negativity bias, heal toxic shame, and retire the inner critic
Relational Intelligence within Ourselves, with Others
* Tools to help clients recover the internal secure base of earned secure attachment
* Teach clients skills of resonant relationships: reaching out for help, setting limits and boundaries, repairing ruptures, resolving conflicts, negotiating change, that allow them to navigate their world with skill and love
* The impact of digital technology on the brain, on relationships, on resilience
* Practices of mindfulness – knowing what you’re experiencing while you’re experiencing it – that strengthen the brain’s response flexibility that leads to therapeutic change
* Tools to notice, name and tolerate what’s happening and reactions to what’s happening, to step back and unpack thoughts, emotions, “rules,” belief systems, to shift perspectives and discern options
Five factors of post-traumatic growth that help clients bounce forward from any trauma or tragedy, appreciating the new life that emerges because of the difficulties, not just in spite of them.
* acceptance of reality (and the consequences of what has happened)
* resourcing with family, friends, and community
* recognizing the positive in the midst of the difficult;
* finding the gifts in the mistakes
* developing a coherent narrative of traumatizing events within the larger life story.
Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:
- Describe the neuroplasticity involved in four basic processes of rewiring the brain’s patterns of coping, even when they are “stuck” and dysfunctional.
- Identify the seven functions of the pre-frontal cortex most essential to resilience
- Teach clients to use body-based tools to regulate their nervous system and recover their baseline physiological equilibrium in ways that are safe, efficient, and effective
- Demonstrate to clients practices of gratitude, kindness, compassion and joy that counterbalance the innate negativity bias of the brain, coming out of contraction and reactivity.
- Use tools to manage surges of powerful negative emotions, reduce anxiety and depression, and heal toxic shame
- Use tools of memory deconsolidation-reconsolidation to reverse the impact of stress and trauma.
- Teach basic mindfulness practices to help shift client’s perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors, discern options, and wise choices
- Help clients re-connect with people who can serve as effective refuges and resources of safety and healing
- Help strengthen clients’ self-awareness and self-acceptance so they can transform mistakes, losses and regrets into opportunities for learning and growth.
- Apply micro-practices involving exercise, sleep, nutrition, learning, play, and social interactions that foster brain health and prevent-reduce-reverse cognitive decline.
Linda Graham, MFT is an experienced psychotherapist and Mindful Self-Compassion teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. Linda integrates modern neuroscience, mindfulness, and relational psychology in her national and international trainings. She is the author of Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster (2018), and the award-winning Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being (2013). 10 years of weekly Resources for Recovering Resilience are archived at www.lindagraham-mft.net.