This seminar presents the sea change occurring in psychotherapy. Just as the field of medicine has been recently transformed by Functional and Integrative Medicine, psychotherapy in the 21st Century is moving toward integration. Given that psychotherapy will increasingly address health factors, with epigenetics and psychoneuroimmunology at the forefront, this integration brings those fields of research that had previously been compartmentalized into a robust vision of psychotherapy. Therapeutic Applications of Neuroscience, Psychoneuroimmunology, and Epigenetics applies this approach to psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.
Recently a wide variety of feedback loops have been identified that when disrupted contribute to poor health and psychological disorders. This seminar addresses this challenge by synthesizing the groundbreaking research in psychoneuroimmunology and epigenetics, combining them with the neuroscience of emotion, interpersonal, cognitive research, with psychotherapeutic approaches to offer an integrated vision of psychotherapy.
We begin by addressing the term “mind” because, though we use the term all the time, we had not agreed what it is. Now we know through research in neuroscience and psychology that the mind is not one thing but is composed of ongoing feedback between the mental operating networks. Our minds contribute to “self”-organization as we co-evolve within families and interpersonal interactions. What we encounter and how we take care of ourselves can change our brains, immune systems, and even turn on or off genes, resulting in mental health or ill health. Inflammation and autoimmune disorders are strongly associated with depression and anxiety. Therefore, the seminar offers a primer on the fields of psychoneuroimmunology and epigenetics, combining it with the neuroscience of emotional, interpersonal, cognitive, dynamics, with psychotherapeutic approaches to offer an integrated vision of psychotherapy.
We explore the disrupted neural, immune system, and gene expression feedback loops to make sense of the causal relationships between stress, depression, and anxiety. The interaction between all these factors has been illuminated studies examining the effects of life style factors on the incidence of health and psychological problems. There are significant relationships between disruptions in immune system function, stress, insecure attachment, anxiety, depression, poor nutrition, poor quality sleep, physical inactivity, and neurophysiological dysregulation. We can now understand how the immune system, diet, brain structure, and even gut bacteria profoundly affect mental health through leaky gut syndrome and the inflammatory spiral. This complex spectrum of health conditions effects millions of people who seek psychotherapy.