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How to Avoid Committing Neuroplastic Malpractice in Psychotherapy Sessions

How to Avoid Committing Neuroplastic Malpractice in Psychotherapy Sessions

When you perform psychotherapy, you of course hope to help your clients live happier, more meaningful and functional lives.  When psychotherapy works you’re happier, and more successful in achieving credibility as you did what you set out to do, which is to help someone suffer less. But is that what’s actually happening?

Tap into the mechanism of neuroplasticity

In many parts of the world psychotherapy is considered a healing experience, as well as an art. In the Western world, however, psychotherapy must also fit into an academic, medical model supported by evidence-based research. Unfortunately, this outcome-based research on therapeutic effectiveness of our interventions tells us we’re not actually getting better at doing psychotherapy. Due to recent breakthroughs in neuroscience, I’m concerned we could be making things worse just by failing to keep the whole brain and nervous system in mind and by not tapping into the mechanism of neuroplasticity, the brain’s innate ability to change and transform with experience.

According to a pioneer in psychotherapy outcomes research, Dr. Scott Miller, what we’re not particularly good at is “knowing when we’re not being helpful, when clients are at risk for dropping out or are actually deteriorating while in our care.” In addition to not keeping the brain and neuroplasticity as a focus, sometimes psychotherapists, both intentionally and unintentionally, increase the experience of emotional pain, drift from the primary treatment focus, and fail to measure outcomes at each visit. Dr. Miller recommends getting more measures at the beginning and end of each visit, so we are more aware of the impact of our interventions, especially with clients who are “at risk” for drop out or worsening symptoms.

Ask yourself these simple questions

To ensure that you’re getting great results with your clients and that those clients are sending more clients your way, I want you to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Did you routinely ask about, or measure, the intensity of Emotional Pain in each session?

  2. Did you have an agreement with client as to the problem to target and a brain-based, emotion-focused plan for resolution?

  3. Did you conceptualize and explain their presenting problems by sharing your knowledge and interest in what the client’s the brain and nervous system may be doing?

By asking yourself these simple questions, you will be better able to assess the effectiveness of your therapeutic interventions, and if the outcomes aren’t what you were hoping for, you can better adjust your methods and determine what modifications you need to make to reach your therapeutic goals.

A brain-based approach

A brain-based, and neuropsychologically informed approach produces more effective results because you do more than talk about what comes to mind. You intend on brain change and reducing emotional pain from the start, and you share this intention with your client so they are able to give their own input and agreement.  Your client understands what to focus on and participates in creating new neuroplastic emotional experiences for brain change, since the human brain uses both sensations and emotions to signal and communicate. You teach your client to keep their whole brain in mind and specifically target emotional pain responses using their brains built in capacity to change.

In sum, the best way to avoid committing Neuroplastic Malpractice in your work as a psychotherapist is to be brain-based and neuro-psychologically informed in building a whole brain therapeutic alliance and harnessing neuroplasticity.  You want to target Emotional Pain, assess and measure it often during the session, and intervene to influence and change the brain.

Emotional Pain Intervention (EPI®)

If you want more specifics on how to do neuroplastic change in sessions, let me introduce you to a brain-interventional system for Emotional Pain Intervention (EPI®), which can help you to achieve better, more effective results with your clients. To learn more about EPI, I’m offering you an opportunity to join the teleconference to hear how others are using it in sessions to achieve the best outcomes and help more clients. This EPI system includes all of the key common factors involved in doing effective psychotherapy combined with neuroplasticity science interventions for a brain-changing conversation.  As you’ll discover, there are pre- and post-intervention assessments of emotional pain built right into the conversation.

On March 4, 2019 at 11am CST a weekly Play the Brain for Change teleconference course begins that includes a bonus copy of my new book Play The Brain For Change: How to Activate the Vagus Nerve and Use Neuroplasticity for Quick and Lasting Change A Brain-Changing Conversation Guide for Psychotherapists. Space is limited, so reserve your spot now for what you’ll discover to be a fascinating, cutting-edge approach to treating your client’s cognitive and emotion-based problems and having more favorable outcomes in your clinical practice.

Reserve Your Spot Now

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