Learn from Dr John Arden

This course includes a video by Dr. John Arden as part of a larger webinar. To gain CEU points please follow the link below.

CEU Points

Click on the button below to do this webinar for CEU points.

About This Course

This lesson describes how adaptive and maladaptive habits become learned behaviors coded into our implicit memory systems. They affect our motivation often involving forming procedural and emotional implicit memory.  Procedural memory is facilitated by the striatum and nucleus accumbens so that they become automatically associated with pleasure and/or the relief of discomfort. 

Habits that become addictions can play a bidirectional causal relationship with anxiety and depression. From an integrative approach to addressing addictions, anxiety, and depression it is important that we do not conceptually separate them “diseases.”  The rigid categories dictated by the DSMs, psychotherapy books, and seminars generally stay clear of addressing chemical dependency, while addictions providers defer to mental health providers for people with “psychiatric” disorders. Integrated psychotherapy goes beyond the one-dimensional conceptual frames of “dual diagnosis” and “co-occurring disorders.”  Addictions, also including those that are not chemical in nature, such as to gambling and computer games, hijack the dopamine circuits, nucleus accumbens, and striatum neural networks. 

By understanding the neuroscience underlying habits, therapists can more effectively help clients boost motivation and overcome maladaptive habits.   For example, most addictions downregulate dopamine receptors, making the range of potential positive experiences narrow to the addictive behavior. And if a person had experienced multiple ACEs, he tends to have a reduced range of potentially positive experiences, which represents a set-up to develop addictive behaviors.  When stressed, they may engage in their go-to source of pleasure, their addiction. Expanding the range of positive behaviors, expands the number of medium spiny neurons in the nucleus accumbens, making this part of the brain better able to put the brakes on an automatic habit generated by the striatum.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome to the course!

    • Introduction

  • 2


    • Habits 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.