Learn from Dr John Arden

This course includes a video by Dr. John Arden and is part of his larger webinar. If you are looking for CEU points please click on the button below.

CEU Points

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About This Course

This lesson begins with the exploration of the health and mental health ramifications of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study.  This and other studies of its type highlight the interaction between early adversity and epigenetic affects expressed later in life in ill health and mental health.  The rapidly evolving field of epigenetics reveals how the gene-environment interaction brings about the expression or suppression of the genes.
While the suppression of genes can occur through the process of methylation, gene expression can occur through a process called acetylation.  Of critical importance to an integrative approach to psychotherapy, factors such as attachment, adversity, as well as lifestyle factors, can have a major impact on the expression or suppression of genes.
Parental or caregiver neglect and ACEs have been shown to suppress genes regulating the cortisol receptors on the hippocampus, making it more difficult to turn off the HPA axis later in life.  In the extreme, low cortisol receptors are associated with suicide. Those women having initially experienced poor attachment early in life tend to have decreased estrogen receptors later in life and are less attentive to their own babies.  On the other hand, people with secure attachment have higher levels of cortisol receptors and are better able to deal with stress. Since therapists can help clients turn on and off genes through changing their behavior, anxiety and/or depression can be more effectively addressed therapeutically.  
Another way that behavior affects genetic processes occurs in response to the environment and behavior is at the telomeres level.  Telemeres, which comprise the ends of the linear chromosomes, generally shorten with cell division, age, and illness. The availability of an enzyme that adds nucleotides to the telomeres, called telomerase, has been linked to health and psychological factors.  While stress and depression have been associated with shorter telomere length, specific lifestyle factors have been associated with longer telomere length.

Course curriculum

  • 1


    • Introduction

  • 2


    • Epigenetics Webinar

  • 3

    Next Steps...

    • Before you go...


Senior Instructor

John Arden

John Arden, Ph.D., is the author of 14 books including Mind-Brain-Gene (2019, W.W.Norton & Company). He has a background in neuropsychology and is the director of training for mental health for the Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers in Northern California. In this capacity, he oversees one of the largest mental health training programs in the world, operating in 22 different medical centers throughout Northern California. Dr. Arden also practices part-time at Kaiser Permanente in Petaluma and San Rafael, and he served for several years as the chief psychologist at Kaiser Vallejo. He has taught in colleges, professional schools and universities.


Toward Psychotherapy Integration

If you would like more resources on this topic, please consider reading Dr. John Arden's book Mind-Brain-Gene. This book contributes to the sea change in how we conceptualise mental health problems and their solutions. Mind-Brain-Gene describes the feedback loops between the multiple systems contributing to the emergence of the mind and the experience of the self. It explains how our mental operating networks "self"-organise, drawing from and modifying our memory systems to establish and maintain mental health.