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For Scott Miller :)

from The Neuropsychotherapist, Vol 5 Issue 11, November, 2017

the last word

One of the most interesting conversations in psychotherapy today is about what quali­fies as an effective treatment, which therapies are the most effective, and what the main element in effective therapy is.

There has always been robust discussion in neuroscience as to the veracity of research and the application of the results in health and healing. It’s only relatively recently, for example, that we’ve fully acknowledged something as fundamental as brain plasticity. For many years, we just had it wrong. How much was the denial of brain plasticity a barrier to the emergence of recent breakthroughs such as memory reconsolidation? This was an idea impossible to im­agine while we held to the notion of a fixed brain structure.

As we review, question, and even argue what’s being declared through research, what thought possibilities are we allowing or, perhaps, denying? Scott Miller, himself a researcher and reviewer, is becoming a prominent voice in the new questioning of what we think works and why. His Facebook posts alone are an educational forum. The Neuropsychotherapist has made an intentional move into Facebook in order to share the information we’ve gathered. I believe that engagement with the available information is a vital step in producing reason­able and wise discussion.

It may be that we need to throw everything up in the air and reconsider both how it falls and how it should fall. One of the important filters that can sometimes get lost in the techni­cal world of scientific research is the vagaries and complexities of being human. It’s no simple matter to remove the inconsistencies of human subjectivity and human creativity from re­search protocols. Perhaps disengaging research from these natural aspects of being human, as we pursue how to scientifically control or manipulate human biology, is the problem—al­beit that the intention may well be to heal illness and facilitate wellness.

The Neuropsychotherapist is invested in seeing real people achieve wellness, with a focus on “neuro”-informed therapy. The prefix neuro is not so straightforward: it refers not to the brain alone but to the entire neural system, both brain-based (neural) and body-wide (periph­eral). It means not only those things that the neurology affects, but also that the body can afferently affect the neurology.

Dr. Mark Hyman, in his Broken Brain video series, said something that caught my atten­tion. He urged us to consider that there can be problems that are “not a brain disorder, but a disorder that affects the brain”. There is a dynamic interplay between brain and body, and as Dr. Hyman suggests, we can neglect to look in and from all directions.

Presenting a more comprehensive picture is what we will try to do with even greater vigour as The Neuropsychotherapist continues to explore emerging knowledge and what it might mean for creating beneficial change for the central player in the whole exercise—you and me: the people.


- Richard Hill

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