The Neurobiology of Attachment-Focused Therapy: Enhancing Connection & Trust in the Treatment of Children & Adolescents (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)

Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology

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W. W. Norton & Company
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Uniting attachment-focused therapy and neurobiology to help distrustful and traumatized children revive a sense of trust and connection.

How can therapists and caregivers help maltreated children recover what they were born with: the potential to experience the safety, comfort, and joy of having trustworthy, loving adults in their lives?

This groundbreaking book explores, for the first time, how the attachment-focused family therapy model can respond to this question at a neural level. It is a rich, accessible investigation of the brain science of early childhood and developmental trauma. Each chapter offers clinicians new insights—and powerful new methods—to help neglected and insecurely attached children regain a sense of safety and security with caring adults. Throughout, vibrant clinical vignettes drawn from the authors' own experience illustrate how informed clinical processes can promote positive change.

Authors Baylin and Hughes have collaborated for many years on the treatment of maltreated children and their caregivers. Both experienced psychologists, their shared project has bee the development of the science-based model of attachment-focused therapy in this book—a model that links clinical interventions to the crucial underlying processes of trust, mistrust, and trust building—helping children learn to trust caregivers and caregivers to be the "trust builders" these children need.

The book begins by explaining the neurobiology of blocked trust, using the latest social neuroscience to show how the child's early development gets channeled into a core strategy of defensive living. Subsequent chapters address, among other valuable subjects, how new research on behavioral epigenetics has shown ways that highly stressful early life experiences affect brain development through patterns of gene expression, adapting the child's brain for mistrust rather than trust, and what it means for treatment approaches.

Finally, readers will learn what goes on in the child's brain during attachment-focused therapy, honing in on the dyadic processes of adult-child interaction that seem to embody the core "mechanisms of change": elements of attachment-focused interventions that target the child's defensive brain, calm this system, and reopen the child's potential to learn from new experiences with caring adults, and that it is safe to depend upon them.

If trust is to develop and care is to be restored, clinicians need to know what prevents the development of trust in the first place, particularly when a child is living in an environment of good care for a long period of time. What do abuse and neglect do to the development of children's brains that makes it so difficult for them to trust adults who are so different from those who hurt them? This book presents a brain-based understanding that professionals can apply to answering these questions and encouraging the development of healthy trust.

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About the author

Jonathan Baylin, PhD, a psychologist in private practice, offers workshops for therapists on integrating knowledge about the brain with psychotherapy.

Daniel A. Hughes, PhD, is a prominent attachment specialist and private practitioner. President of the Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy Institute, he consults and gives trainings in the U.S. and abroad on issues of attachment and family therapy. He is the author of Attachment-Focused Family Therapy, Attachment-Focused Family Therapy Workbook, and Attachment-Focused Parenting.

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Additional Information

Publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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Published on
Aug 23, 2016
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780393711059
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / Psychotherapy / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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An attachment specialist and a clinical psychologist with neurobiology expertise team up to explore the brain science behind parenting. In this groundbreaking exploration of the brain mechanisms behind healthy caregiving, attachment specialist Daniel A. Hughes and veteran clinical psychologist Jonathan Baylin guide readers through the intricate web of neuronal processes, hormones, and chemicals that drive—and sometimes thwart—our caregiving impulses, uncovering the mysteries of the parental brain.

The biggest challenge to parents, Hughes and Baylin explain, is learning how to regulate emotions that arise—feeling them deeply and honestly while staying grounded and aware enough to preserve the parent–child relationship. Stress, which can lead to “blocked” or dysfunctional care, can impede our brain’s inherent caregiving processes and negatively impact our ability to do this. While the parent–child relationship can generate deep empathy and the intense motivation to care for our children, it can also trigger self-defensive feelings rooted in our early attachment relationships, and give rise to “unparental” impulses.

Learning to be a “good parent” is contingent upon learning how to manage this stress, understand its brain-based cues, and respond in a way that will set the brain back on track. To this end, Hughes and Baylin define five major “systems” of caregiving as they’re linked to the brain, explaining how they operate when parenting is strong and what happens when good parenting is compromised or “blocked.” With this awareness, we learn how to approach kids with renewed playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy, re-regulate our caregiving systems, foster deeper social engagement, and facilitate our children’s development.

Infused with clinical insight, illuminating case examples, and helpful illustrations, Brain-Based Parenting brings the science of caregiving to light for the first time. Far from just managing our children’s behavior, we can develop our “parenting brains,” and with a better understanding of the neurobiological roots of our feelings and our own attachment histories, we can transform a fraught parent-child relationship into an open, regulated, and loving one.
For many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much--just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work--to make us feel that we are not okay. Beginning to understand how our lives have become ensnared in this trance of unworthiness is our first step toward reconnecting with who we really are and what it means to live fully.
--from Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance

“Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering,” says Tara Brach at the start of this illuminating book. This suffering emerges in crippling self-judgments and conflicts in our relationships, in addictions and perfectionism, in loneliness and overwork--all the forces that keep our lives constricted and unfulfilled. Radical Acceptance offers a path to freedom, including the day-to-day practical guidance developed over Dr. Brach’s twenty years of work with therapy clients and Buddhist students.

Writing with great warmth and clarity, Tara Brach brings her teachings alive through personal stories and case histories, fresh interpretations of Buddhist tales, and guided meditations. Step by step, she leads us to trust our innate goodness, showing how we can develop the balance of clear-sightedness and compassion that is the essence of Radical Acceptance. Radical Acceptance does not mean self-indulgence or passivity. Instead it empowers genuine change: healing fear and shame and helping to build loving, authentic relationships. When we stop being at war with ourselves, we are free to live fully every precious moment of our lives.


From the Hardcover edition.
Over fifty years ago, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth’s research on the developmental psychology of children formed the basic tenets of attachment theory. And for years, following these tenets, the theory’s focus has been on how children develop vis-a-vis the attachments—whether secure or insecure—they form with their caregivers.

In the therapy room, this has meant working with individuals one-on-one, with the therapist assuming the role of the attachment figure in order to provide a secure base for treating clients’ problems that arose from troubled interpersonal relationships in childhood.

Here, Daniel A. Hughes, an eminent clinician and attachment specialist, is the first to expand this traditional model, applying attachment theory to a family therapy setting. Drawing on more than 20 years of clinical experience, Hughes presents his comprehensive, effective, and accessible treatment model for working with all members of a family—not simply the individual in question—to recognize, resolve, and heal personal and family problems using principles from theories of attachment and intersubjectivity.

Beginning with an overview of attachment and intersubjectivity—the twin theories from which he forms his treatment plan—Hughes carefully outlines, chapter by chapter, the core principles and strategies of his family-based approach. He elaborates on the need to develop and maintain PACE (playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy)—the central therapeutic stance of attachment-focused family therapy—and supplies tips and sample dialogues for implementing this position. The importance of fostering affective/reflective (a/r) dialogue is covered in detail, as well as helping families to manage shame, understand and embrace the break-and-repair cycle of their interactions, and explore and resolve childhood trauma. Also discussed are the more procedural issues of how to incorporate parents into therapeutic conversations, when and how to question them on their own attachment histories, and how to “be” with children.

Grounded in the fundamental principle of parents facilitating the healthy emotional development of their children, Attachment-Focused Family Therapy is the first book of its kind to offer therapists a complete manual for using attachment therapy with families. Extensive case studies, vignettes, and sample dialogues throughout clearly demonstrate how Hughes’s model plays out in the therapy room. By showing therapists how to create a bond of psychological safety and intersubjective discovery with parents and caregivers, Hughes reveals how they, in turn, can bring about similar experiences of safety and discovery for their children.
An expert clinician brings attachment theory into the realm of parenting skills. Attachment security and affect regulation have long been buzzwords in therapy circles, but many of these ideas—so integral to successful therapeutic work with kids and adolescents— have yet to be effectively translated to parenting practice itself. Moreover, as neuroscience reveals how the human brain is designed to work in good relationships, and how such relationships are central to healthy human development, the practical implications for the parent-child attachment relationship become even more apparent.

Here, a leading attachment specialist with over 30 years of clinical experience brings the rich and comprehensive field of attachment theory and research from inside the therapy room to the outside, equipping therapists and caregivers with practical parenting skills and techniques rooted in proven therapeutic principles.

A guide for all parents and a resource for all mental health clinicians and parent-educators who are searching for ways to effectively love, discipline, and communicate with children, this book presents the techniques and practices that are fundamental to optimal child development and family functioning—how to set limits, provide guidance, and manage the responsibilities and difficulties of daily life, while at the same time communicating safety, fun, joy, and love. Filled with valuable clinical vignettes and sample dialogues, Hughes shows how attachment-focused research can guide all those who care for children in their efforts to better raise them.
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