Moving Beyond the Brain

Dan Siegel on Why the Mind, More Than the Brain, Matters in Therapy

Rich Simon

As the language of neuroscience sinks deeper into the public consciousness, the brain has become a scapegoat for explaining the mysterious behaviors, moods, and impulses that drive everyday life. In the language of pop-neuroscience, criminal behavior is attributed to a faulty amygdala, low moods to chemical imbalances, and behavioral addictions to reward pathways in the brain.

While the brain plays a big role in generating our actions, thoughts, and desires, it’s too often conflated with the mind. According to interpersonal neurobiologist and Mindsight author Dan Siegel, this misses a vital distinction—the brain is an organ housed inside our skulls, but the mind is an embodied and relational process.

In his webcast session on neuroscience, featured in our State of the Art 2013 virtual conference, Dan goes on to say that as therapists, our job is not to work on changing our clients’ brains, but to truly engage their minds. Here’s a preview clip in which he describes how to explore a client’s mind during the assessment phase of therapy.


In addition to this session, Dan is featured in an all new State of the Art dialogue with Rick Hanson called “Does Neuroscience Really Matter?” State of the Art features four other premiere events designed to further the conversation on the topics relevant to today’s practitioners, including:

  • The Power of Attention with Dan Goleman

  • Commitment and its Challenges in 21st Century Couples with Esther Perel and Bill Doherty

  • Treating Trauma: A 30 Year Perspective with Mary Jo Barrett and Dick Schwartz

  • The Now Moment with Chris Germer and Diana Fosha


We hope you join us this November to not only take a fresh look at the issues we’ve been exploring in psychotherapy, but to also start and further conversations about what’s in store for the everyday practitioner in our constantly growing field.

State of the Art 2013
Starting November 4-8 And On Demand

Click here now for all the details

Topic: Professional Development | Couples | Trauma

Tags: addictions | amygdala | brain science | consciousness | conversation | Dan Siegel | Esther Perel | Mary Jo Barrett | mindsight | Mirror Neurons | neuroscience | psychotherapy | Rick Hanson | state of the art 2013 | therapists | therapy | treating trauma | virtual conference

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