Anthropologist Helen Fisher uses her brain scanning studies (fMRI) of people happily in love, rejected in love and in love long-term to discuss the traits of romantic love, love-at-first-sight, and addiction to love. She focuses on her current research on 40,000 men and women to propose that four broad cognitive/behavioral personality trait constellations have evolved associated with the neural systems for dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen. Then she discusses her data on mate choice among 28,000 individuals to pro-pose why we are chemically drawn to one person rather than another.
To compensate for the brain’s innate negativity bias – making it like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones, which sensitizes couples to hurts and conflicts and undermines psychotherapy – we’ll explore a vital method in self-directed neuroplasticity: identifying key positive experiences and then registering them deeply in implicit memory.
In her lecture, Fisher discusses four biologically based styles of thinking and behaving and, using her data on mate choice among 28,000 individuals, shows why we are chemically drawn to one person rather than another. In this workshop Fisher goes deeper into these natural temperament constellations, and discusses how partners with very different (and similar) biological styles of thinking and behaving interact to create great joy, confusion and sorrow in their partnerships.
Most couples have at least one partner who withdraws. To bring about lasting change, withdrawers have to engage in the process of therapy and most importantly they must reengage in the relationship. Using video examples, this workshop focuses on how to engage withdrawers and help them reengage with their partners.
The first emotion our ancestors evolved was fear—and we remain highly threat reactive today, continually overestimating threats and underestimating opportunities and resources. We’ll explore multiple methods for helping clients “cool the fires” of fear and anger, and internalize inner strength and an appropriate sense of safety.
Building on the keynote on “taking in the good,” we’ll explore ways to use positive experiences to soothe and potentially replace negative material (e.g., relationship upsets, pain from childhood). Through discussion and experiential activities, we’ll match healing experiences to disturbances in the brain’s core motivational systems (Avoid harm, Approach reward, Attach to “us”).
Deficits such as affect blindness, alexithymia, and poor theory of mind will likely lead to mutual dysregulation in couples during periods of distress or threat and is the driving force behind relationship dissatisfaction and dissolution. This workshop will introduce attendees to the most common social-emotional deficits and will demonstrate how to identify these deficits and what to do about them in couple therapy.
The Atone-Attune-Attach model of couples’ therapy for healing from a revealed extra-relationship affair, with secrecy deception is described. Each of the three phases has 4 objectives. The roles of conflict avoidance and self-disclosure avoidance are discussed, as well as the Gottman-Rapoport conflict blueprint. To deal with attachment injuries and regrettable past incidents, the Gottman Recovery Kit is described. The Gottman-Rusbult-Glass cascade forms the basic theory for this therapy. The roles of cherishing and gratitude versus trashing and betrayal are discussed, as well as the theory of attunement and trust, and CL-ALT and betrayal.
CC12 Topical Panel 01 - Infidelity: What is the Essence of the Crisis for the Couple? What are the Challenges for the Therapist? - Ellyn Bader, PhD, Helen Fisher, PhD, John Gottman, PhD, and Esther Perel, MA, LMFT
CC12 Topical Panel 02 - Bringing Attachment and Neuroscience into Couples Therapy: Benefits, Challenges, and Pitfalls - Rick Hanson, PhD, Harville Hendrix, PhD, Stan Tatkin, PsyD, and Scott Woolley, PhD