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Rethinking the Autonomic Nervous System

Stephen Porges on a Popular Neuroscientific Misconception

One of the primary connections between neuroscience and psychotherapy is the understanding of the autonomic nervous system. For decades therapists have been taught that there are two sides—the sympathetic (stressors) and parasympathetic (restoration)—complementing each other.

But according to Stephen Porges—developer of the Polyvagal Theory—this teaching is off the mark. He has found that these two systems are not equivalent, but are actually hierarchical, and that there is a third system to consider—the vagal circuit.

Watch the clip below from Stephen’s session in our webcast series, Why Neuroscience Matters, to hear him talk about the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, and why trying to control behaviors independently of physiological states doesn’t work.

This is just one example of how neuroscience ties into psychotherapy teachings that is covered in this series.

Want To Learn More About Brain Science And How It Relates To Your Practice?

Here’s a look at what’s covered in this 6-session series:

Dan Siegel on Interpersonal Neurobiology in the Consulting Room
Enhance your effectiveness by applying neurobiological principles to your work with clients.

Rick Hanson on How to Take in the Good: Overcoming the Brain’s Negativity Bias
Apply the insights of Positive Psychology and help clients reshape their brains.

Louann Brizendine on The Myth of the Unisex Brain
Increase your ability to attune to both male and female clients.

Michael Gelb on Brain Power: Improve Your Mind as You Age
Increase your sense of personal and clinical possibilities.

Norman Doidge on The Brain that Changes Itself: Neuroplasticity in Clinical Practice
Explore new and challenging perspectives on the brain as a flexible muscle.

Stephen Porges on Understanding Polyvagal Theory: Emotion, Attachment, and Self-Regulation
Enhance your ability to create safety and work with traumatized clients.


Why Neuroscience Matters
Concrete Strategies for Your Practice

Get course details here

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One Response to Rethinking the Autonomic Nervous System

  1. Mary Louise Whitehill says:

    I love Richard Simon and appreciate all he has done education mental health professionals.
    Having said that, these interviews with him nodding endlessly, or just staring are too annoying to watch.
    If the camera could just go to him only when he is asking a question or making a comment.
    And the lighting is awful…makes people look sallow…almost embalmed.
    Mary Lou

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