Neuropsychotherapy

Neuropsychotherapy provides excellent explanatory structures for the ways in which neurobiology and experience interact to affect thoughts, feelings and behaviour and is especially suitable for psychology relationship-based practice. Fundamental to this model are the latest scientific understandings of the dynamic nature of the brain and neuroplasticity. The seminal work of Eric Kandel provided a new framework for psychotherapy demonstrating through neurobiological research the effects of enriched environments not only on the thinking, feeling and behaviour of individuals but also on neural activity, neuro-chemical shifts and even neuro-structural changes (Roussow, 2013).

These new insights into neurobiology and neuroscience have provided an enormous amount of support for the talking therapies as ways of providing enriched environments for growth and change. This led to the newly developed field of neuropsychotherapy where the therapeutic process is fundamentally focused on a process of restructuring the brain towards higher levels of functioning and wellbeing. The work of Eric Kandel demonstrated that there is a tendency towards increased neural growth and cluster formation in specific areas of increased activity within the brain (Allison &  Roussow, 2013).  This indicates that neurons that fire together wire together which has an effect on the formation of neural clusters and loops with specific implications for mental health.  Numerous recent studies have demonstrated a strong association between increased limbic system activity and conditions like anxiety and depression.

The understanding of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dynamic within the subjective experience of stress, as well as the behavioural reaction towards it, serves as an example of how neurological aspects of anxiety could be understood, explained and utilised towards change (Schlosser, Wolf & Wingenfeld, 2011). The aim of Neuropsychotherapy is thus to provide psycho-education and strategies for shifting neural activity away from increased areas of neural activity and firing, which is associated with maintaining conditions like anxiety and depression, towards firing in other areas of the brain which will lead to healthier functioning, balance and wellbeing (Allison & Roussow, 2013). 

The therapeutic environment also provides an opportunity through the exploration of feelings, experiences and thoughts for an enriched environment which has been demonstrated to lead to growth, change and wellbeing.  Neuroscience applied to therapy uncovers its effect on brain structure, activity and chemistry, behavioural change, thinking patterns and feelings (Rossouw, 2013).