The Mindful Therapist: Harnessing the Power of Mindsight and Neural Integration to Promote Well-Being in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life

This workshop will provide an array of clinical case examples to illuminate how to apply an Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) approach to psychotherapy and personal growth in everyday life.  The capacity to see and shape the internal world toward integration is called “mindsight” and is at the heart of the therapeutic strategy illustrated here through actual experiences of individuals in psychotherapy.  Mindsight as an integrative process enables us to understand the common mechanisms beneath social and emotional intelligence, secure attachment, and mindfulness.  Impairments to mindsight are found in various situations, including trauma, and disorders of anxiety and mood.  Teaching mindsight skills will be illustrated for workshop participants so that practical applications of this approach will be readily accessible following the conference. 


All clinical work begins first with an assessment phase, and IPNB approaches this stage by examining areas in a person’s life that reveal chaos and rigidity.  These are places where integration is impaired and include the experiences of anxiety and flashbacks to ruminative thought patterns and depression.  The chaos and rigidity that mark impaired integration are then explored so that the particular needs of that individual are illuminated and the treatment phase can begin.


At the heart of the IPNB perspective is that the mind is a regulatory process that is both embodied and relational.  This places the relationship between clinician and patient/client at the heart of the work.  This also makes knowing about the embodied brain—the extended nervous system distributed throughout the entire body—a basic part of a therapist’s educational knowledge.  The therapists own mindful presence is an essential starting point for then harnessing the power of mindsight skills to promote neural integration at the heart of healing and growth.   As attention is focused in a mindful way that will be defined and described in great depth here, the flow of energy and information can be moved toward integration.  Specific “domains of integration” will be illustrated that enable a clinician to focus therapeutic interventions productively toward integration—the linkage of differentiated elements.  These domains include those of consciousness, bilateral, vertical, memory, and narrative, state, interpersonal, temporal, and transpirational.  Each domain entails specific therapeutic interventions that will be highlighted and explored.  The ultimate outcome of integration is the movement of the individual from the presenting states of chaos and rigidity and into the harmony and ease of well-being.    The nine middle prefrontal functions can be seen as one realization of integration:  bodily regulation, attuned communication, emotional balance, fear modulation, response flexibility, insight, empathy, morality, and intuition.  These outcomes of integration are found in mindful awareness practice and secure attachment, and can be seen as a basic description of well-being and an ultimate goal for the outcome of clinical intervention.