Clinician's Digest


How to Help Learning Stick for Clients * What Can Neuroscience Tell Us About Psychotherapy?

September/October 2013


It’s usually easy to see when clients are tuned out or turned off, simply not absorbing what you’re trying to get across. What’s puzzling is when things seem to be really clicking in session—when you’re sure clients will return to report their success at having applied the new awareness and skills they’ve just acquired to their lives—and then you find that they haven’t followed through.

A study by David Atkins and colleagues, published in the June 2012 issue of Behaviour Research & Therapy, found that clients in couples therapy are less likely to recall communication skills learned during high levels of emotional arousal. As the authors report, “Greater emotional arousal predicts remembering fewer skills,” and “sustained emotional arousal may impact memory through encoding, retrieval, or both.” Other studies have also established how strongly stress hormones can affect learning and memory. However, in the June 2013 issue of Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, couples therapist Brent Atkinson offers some practical suggestions for addressing this obstacle to therapeutic change. He proposes that combining our emerging understanding of brain science with the power of…

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1 Comment

Monday, January 13, 2014 7:38:17 AM | posted by Dennis Minno
I found this summary of DPA to be very useful. I have quoted it to some stuck couples and I think it helped diffuse some of their reactivity.

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