With all the buzz about brain science, is it possible to lose sight of the mind?

Dan Siegel, a pioneer in the applications of brain science to psychotherapy, wants to make sure we don’t, reminding us that the mind is much bigger than the brain. It extends throughout the whole body and it also includes other people.

In this video with Networker Editor Rich Simon, Siegel explains what this means for psychotherapy, and for cultivating a fuller, more rewarding relationship between you and your client.

As a mental health professional, Siegel argues, you’re not just looking at what’s inside a client’s head. You’re working with the fully embodied, relational mind. And during the assessment phase, you’re fundamentally exploring just how healthy that mind is.

“The human mind is, in a very real sense, much bigger and more expansive than the skull that we imagine to house it,” Siegel says. “Specifically, relationships are the sharing between people of energy and information flow. The brain and its whole body are the embodied mechanism of that flow, and the mind is the self-organizing process that regulates that flow.” What you do with your mind, he adds, “can even change the structure of your brain.”

Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.

Dan Siegel

Longtime Psychotherapy Networker contributor Daniel J. Siegel, MD, is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and completed his postgraduate medical education at UCLA with training in pediatrics and child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry. He is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, founding co-director of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, founding co-investigator at the UCLA Center for Culture, Brain and Development, and executive director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational center devoted to promoting insight, compassion, and empathy in individuals, families, institutions, and communities. Dr. Siegel’s psychotherapy practice spans thirty years, and he has published extensively for the professional audience. He serves as the Founding Editor for the Norton Professional Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology which includes over 70 textbooks.