Article: How Psychotherapy Retrains The Brain
I just great a great article by Alex Afram, PhD published on the Good Therapy website on “how therapy helps.” The short answer is a little something called limbic resonance, which I first learned about some 10+ years ago when I read the phenomenal book A General Theory of Love. I haven’t looked at my own dog-eared, marked up and waterlogged copy of this book for years, but just realized that the image of the two chairs on the book’s cover must have been where I ‘borrowed’ the idea for my own website’s image! Ha!
The idea behind limbic resonance is that we are (unconsciously) deeply connected to one another, especially in our closest relationships, in a way that contributes to our emotional regulation (or dysregulation). Through both verbal and nonverbal responses, we are constantly giving feedback to one another in a way that shapes our experiences of ourselves, each other, and the world at large. This capacity has huge implications for personality development and well-being.
Here’s how that relationship plays out in the therapy room:
Our brains are always evolving unconsciously through our relationships. People who experienced painful relationships growing up have been trained to expect hurtful experiences with others. It takes a new type of relationship—in particular, a therapeutic relationship—to retrain the brain to expect more positive experiences, which is a big part of ultimately feeling better.