TU36: The Neuroscience Of Psychotherapy – An Interview With Louis Cozolino

by | Jul 10, 2017 | Brain Science, Episodes, Guest Interviews, Neuroscience, Therapy

Show Notes



The Neuroscience Of Psychotherapy: An Interview With Louis Cozolino
You may also be interest to hear an updated interview with Lou Cozolino Neurofluency   
Show Notes

Patty Olwell and Louis Cozolino have a wide-ranging discussion of interpersonal neurobiology and how it explains why good therapy works. They also use this lens to talk about why good teachers are effective. Finally, they touch on Cozolino’s current work around executive function and it’s importance in being a good manager.

Why Psychotherapy Works

Cozolino discusses how he views psychotherapy as a learning context where the therapist is trying to stimulate learning and change in the client. Neuroscience focuses on brain plasticity and what stimulates learning and change in the brain. As he studied both these interests he was struck by the realization that “psychotherapy had been guided by the invisible hand of neroplastic principles from the beginning”.These are just two different lenses to look at the same process.

Common Factors

He outlined four common factors that are necessary to foster neuroplasticity and effective therapy.

  1. Establishing a safe relationship – learning and change can only take place in safety.
  2. Mild to moderate stress – some stress fosters plasticity but beyond a certain threshold the brain systems that control change and learning shut down.
  3. Activation of thinking and feeling – you can’t think your way through therapy nor can you feel your way through therapy. He posits that integrating neural systems that are dedicated to the left side (biased toward cognition) and right side (biased toward emotion) of the brain is underlying the effectiveness of psychotherapy.
  4. Creating a new adaptive personal story – effective therapy creates a story that includes an explaination of what went wrong and an explanation of what you have to do to correct it and move toward health. Cozolino says the stories contain a memory for the future.



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