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The New Anatomy of Emotion

How Brain Science Can Teach Couples Emotional Literacy

Brent Atkinson • 10/5/2017

By Brent Atkinson - Even among couples who do make progress in therapy, a disheartening chunk relapse. Why? A lack of emotional literacy. Good clinicians help couples effectively calm their anger and fear circuits as well as stimulate the more vulnerable, connection-generating states. The therapist acts as a kind of neural chiropractor, making regular, finely tuned adjustments to each partner's out-of-sync brain.

Daily Blog

What's Really Behind a Good (or Bad) Decision?

A Simple Practice for Retraining the Emotional Brain

Brent Atkinson • 1/12/2017

By Brent Atkinson - Conscious understanding and effort aren’t the mighty forces we assume they are. Our automatic urges and inclinations are much stronger than most of us ever imagined. Even so, there's something we can do to retrain the emotional brain.

Daily Blog

The Power of the Emotional Brain

Using Brain Science to Spark Behavioral Change

Brent Atkinson • 6/2/2016

By Brent Atkinson - Throughout history, we’ve been operating under a great deception—we tend to believe that our thoughts and actions result largely from our conscious intentions. In fact, while our rational mind has a degree of veto power, the inclinations that fuel our perceptions, interpretations, and actions primarily come from neural processes that operate beneath the level of awareness. The emotional brain plays a crucial role in the machinery of rationality: the brain generates quick, gut-level emotional reactions that collectively serve as a guidance system for reasoning.

Daily Blog

A Brain Science Approach to Couples Therapy

Using Brain Science in Therapy to Alter Mood States

Brent Atkinson • 2/26/2015

When clients become upset, they're in the grip of one of seven major body-brain mood states, also referred to as "executive operating systems." These are more than just passing moods. They're complex neurochemical cascades, in which hormones race through the body and brain and electrical impulses fly over familiar neural synapses, shaping what we feel, do, and think. This hormonal cascade can be lifesaving in the appropriate situation---in the face of a dangerous driver, say, or a possible mugger or rapist. But in intimate relationships, it's often toxic. In my work as a couples therapist, I train my clients to reactivate the neocortex---the inner switchmaster---in the face of strong emotion.

Daily Blog

The Power of Mental Rehearsal

Learning to Strengthen Brain Circuits

Brent Atkinson • 7/16/2014

In his recent Networker article “The Great Deception,” psychologist Brent Atkinson, author of Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy: Advances from Neurobiology and the Science of Intimate Relationships, explains the power of mental rehearsal and what this means for your clients.

Daily Blog

Creating Lasting Change with Brain Science

A Mindful Approach With Couples

Brent Atkinson • 4/24/2014

Over the years, I’ve come to recognize that there’s no one-shot, magic-bullet approach to retraining the human brain. Instead, I’ve developed a process that systematically combines what we know about the power of the emotional brain, the particular strengths of the rational mind, the mechanics of mindfulness meditation, and the brain’s impressive flexibility to help clients learn to calm their nervous systems and navigate their lives more effectively.

Daily Blog

How Much Control Do We Really Have?

Our Conscious Behaviors May Not Be So Conscious After All

Brent Atkinson • 1/28/2014

I’d emerged from my doctoral studies utterly dissatisfied with existing answers to the question of why people continue to behave in self-defeating, irrational ways despite clear evidence that their methods aren’t working.

Daily Blog

The Great Deception

We’re Less in Control Than We Think

Brent Atkinson • 1/8/2014

Most of us put much too much faith in the power of our conscious minds to bring about lasting change. Instead of looking up the higher branches of consciousness, we should be looking down into the nervous system settings that generate impulses and inclinations.

Magazine Article
Copyright:
1/24/2013
Authors:
MARY SYKES WYLIE, PHD
 
BRENT ATKINSON, PHD
 
BABETTE ROTHSCHILD, MSW, LCSW
 
SEBERN FISHER, MA, BCN
 
KATY BUTLER, MA
Product:
NRC095548
Type:
$39.99 USD
Copyright:
5/1/2012
Authors:
RICK HANSON, PH.D.
 
BRENT ATKINSON, PHD
 
MARY SYKES WYLIE, PHD
 
BRUCE ECKER, MA, LMFT
 
LAUREL HULLEY, MA
 
RON POTTER-EFRON, PHD, LICSW, CADCII
 
STEVE ANDREAS, MA, NLP
Product:
NRC095766
Type:
$39.99 USD
Page 1 of 2 (12 Items)
Copyright:
1/24/2013
Authors:
MARY SYKES WYLIE, PHD
 
BRENT ATKINSON, PHD
 
BABETTE ROTHSCHILD, MSW, LCSW
 
SEBERN FISHER, MA, BCN
 
KATY BUTLER, MA
Product:
NRC095548
Type:
$39.99 USD
Copyright:
5/1/2012
Authors:
RICK HANSON, PH.D.
 
BRENT ATKINSON, PHD
 
MARY SYKES WYLIE, PHD
 
BRUCE ECKER, MA, LMFT
 
LAUREL HULLEY, MA
 
RON POTTER-EFRON, PHD, LICSW, CADCII
 
STEVE ANDREAS, MA, NLP
Product:
NRC095766
Type:
$39.99 USD
Page 1 of 1 (2 Items)

The New Anatomy of Emotion

How Brain Science Can Teach Couples Emotional Literacy

Brent Atkinson • 10/5/2017

By Brent Atkinson - Even among couples who do make progress in therapy, a disheartening chunk relapse. Why? A lack of emotional literacy. Good clinicians help couples effectively calm their anger and fear circuits as well as stimulate the more vulnerable, connection-generating states. The therapist acts as a kind of neural chiropractor, making regular, finely tuned adjustments to each partner's out-of-sync brain.

Daily Blog

What's Really Behind a Good (or Bad) Decision?

A Simple Practice for Retraining the Emotional Brain

Brent Atkinson • 1/12/2017

By Brent Atkinson - Conscious understanding and effort aren’t the mighty forces we assume they are. Our automatic urges and inclinations are much stronger than most of us ever imagined. Even so, there's something we can do to retrain the emotional brain.

Daily Blog

The Power of the Emotional Brain

Using Brain Science to Spark Behavioral Change

Brent Atkinson • 6/2/2016

By Brent Atkinson - Throughout history, we’ve been operating under a great deception—we tend to believe that our thoughts and actions result largely from our conscious intentions. In fact, while our rational mind has a degree of veto power, the inclinations that fuel our perceptions, interpretations, and actions primarily come from neural processes that operate beneath the level of awareness. The emotional brain plays a crucial role in the machinery of rationality: the brain generates quick, gut-level emotional reactions that collectively serve as a guidance system for reasoning.

Daily Blog

A Brain Science Approach to Couples Therapy

Using Brain Science in Therapy to Alter Mood States

Brent Atkinson • 2/26/2015

When clients become upset, they're in the grip of one of seven major body-brain mood states, also referred to as "executive operating systems." These are more than just passing moods. They're complex neurochemical cascades, in which hormones race through the body and brain and electrical impulses fly over familiar neural synapses, shaping what we feel, do, and think. This hormonal cascade can be lifesaving in the appropriate situation---in the face of a dangerous driver, say, or a possible mugger or rapist. But in intimate relationships, it's often toxic. In my work as a couples therapist, I train my clients to reactivate the neocortex---the inner switchmaster---in the face of strong emotion.

Daily Blog

The Power of Mental Rehearsal

Learning to Strengthen Brain Circuits

Brent Atkinson • 7/16/2014

In his recent Networker article “The Great Deception,” psychologist Brent Atkinson, author of Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy: Advances from Neurobiology and the Science of Intimate Relationships, explains the power of mental rehearsal and what this means for your clients.

Daily Blog

Creating Lasting Change with Brain Science

A Mindful Approach With Couples

Brent Atkinson • 4/24/2014

Over the years, I’ve come to recognize that there’s no one-shot, magic-bullet approach to retraining the human brain. Instead, I’ve developed a process that systematically combines what we know about the power of the emotional brain, the particular strengths of the rational mind, the mechanics of mindfulness meditation, and the brain’s impressive flexibility to help clients learn to calm their nervous systems and navigate their lives more effectively.

Daily Blog

How Much Control Do We Really Have?

Our Conscious Behaviors May Not Be So Conscious After All

Brent Atkinson • 1/28/2014

I’d emerged from my doctoral studies utterly dissatisfied with existing answers to the question of why people continue to behave in self-defeating, irrational ways despite clear evidence that their methods aren’t working.

Daily Blog
Page 1 of 1 (7 Items)

The Great Deception

We’re Less in Control Than We Think

Brent Atkinson • 1/8/2014

Most of us put much too much faith in the power of our conscious minds to bring about lasting change. Instead of looking up the higher branches of consciousness, we should be looking down into the nervous system settings that generate impulses and inclinations.

Magazine Article

Altered States

Why Insight by Itself Isn't Enough For Lasting Change

Brent Atkinson • 9/30/2004

Increasingly, neuroscience is making it clear that therapists rely too much on the consulting room drama of insight and not enough on good, old-fashioned, repetitive practice.

Magazine Article

Brain to Brain

New Ways to Help Couples Avoid Relapse

Brent Atkinson • 9/13/2002

More than just a high-tech explanation for why couples fight, make up, and drift apart,  the new affective neuroscience provides a rough but valuable guide to helping couples protect their relationship for the long haul.

Magazine Article
Page 1 of 1 (3 Items)
Brent Atkinson, Ph.D., is director of postgraduate training at the Couples Research Institute in Illinois and Professor Emeritus at Northern Illinois University. He's the author of Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy: Advances from Neurobiology and the Science of Intimate Relationships and Developing Habits for Relationship Success.