Skip to comments.Emotional Brain Training
Posted on 08/18/2010 11:26:41 PM PDT by Kevmo
Has anyone heard of this approach to conquering anxiety, depression, perhaps even substance abuse? I'm thinking of buying the book "Wired for Joy" or getting the DVD.
History of EBT
Beginning 30 years ago, we began to develop a method based on this underlying premise as a faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco. The first method was part of an interdisciplinary adolescent health-training program of national leaders in adolescent health directed by Charles E. Irwin, Jr. Later, in the Department of Family and Community medicine â then directed by Jonathan Rodnick, with the research collaboration of Mary Croughan, and instrumental support from Marion Nestle â we adapted the method to emotional brain training for adults.
This method was originally inspired by a study published in 1940 by a psychiatrist at Baylor College of Medicine, Hilde Bruch, and her colleague, Grace Terrain, who observed patterns of permissiveness and deprivation in families with obese children. Our desire was to change not just the lifestyle behavior of obese children, but to find and address the root cause of their cravings. We drew on the work of Bruch and Terrain to develop skills based on good parenting â that is, warm nurturing and consistent limits â and watched as children in the clinic, who were receiving this care, stop wanting the extra food. That program, Shapedown, has recently been updated to be consistent with the system described in this book and is used by medical practitioners and hospitals nationwide, and by the Canadian health system.
In the years that followed, we tested and applied this method through training and research with adults, working first with obesity and then with a range of addictive behaviors. Now the method is applied to rewiring the brain for a state in which the whole range of stress symptoms, addictions, and attachments fade, and the developmental rewards of life become abundant.
The research that has evaluated the effectiveness of emotional brain training (EBT) has shown remarkable effectiveness, including sustained post-treatment changes in a broad spectrum of stress-related variables. Most treatments typically show improvements during treatment, with rapid return to pre-treatment levels after treatment ends. Instead, with EBT we have observed continued improvements in depression, blood pressure, weight, exercise and other variables even as long as six years after training was completed.
More than 12 years ago, we established a non-profit organization, the Institute for Health Solutions, to train and certify clinicians in this method and to facilitate its dissemination. Over the years we have trained more than 500,000 people in the method, through certified providers who facilitate groups and coach, as well as through books and courses. My role has been to integrate research from a broad range of fields; as you read this book, you will see the imprint of many institutions and pioneers of science.
In the last three years scientific breakthroughs hzave led to a new iteration of the method. It started as the Shapedown Program for children and adolescents, later evolved into an adult program known as The Solution Method, and now, with the advent of a new system that has broader applicability, emotional brain training. Not only is this new system simpler, it is more effective and even easier to use.
The prefiguring of Wired for Joy began in 2000, when EBT grew from tools based on family systems theory to integrating new understanding of positive emotional plasticity, which is how the emotional brain can change its functioning. A few years later, Igor Mitrovic, a neuroscientist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who teaches the sciences to medical and health professional graduate students, began using the method personally and became interested in the method's neuroscience. Before long, Igor and I were speaking often. He began shepherding EBT to the next level of theoretical construct, and led the original training of medical students in the method. The "triangles" of neural circuitry that you will see in this book were of his design. Igor is now the Scientific Director of the Institute for Health Solutions. He is a source of inspiration and insight not only to me, but also to others who are leaders in this work, including Lindsey Fish, who specializes in neuroplasticity and EBT, Judy Zehr, who directs the method's clinical education, and the certified practitioners of the method, many of whom have contributed important ideas, suggestions, and research as the method has evolved.
Emotions and Brain Plasticity Recent stress research has pointed to the nature of the stress response: how what you feel right now is not just the here-and-now stress, but also an accumulation of the effects of stress over time. Just knowing that enables us to shape an effective response, an unraveling of the past in pursuit of a new, joyful future. Using the tools of this method to clear away much of the emotional clutter â the wiring from past experiences â became core to the work. This awareness was based on the research of three individuals: Bruce McEwen, a pioneer in stress research at Rockefeller University; internationally recognized stress researcher, Mary Dallman; and major contributor to the understanding of psychobiological stress mechanisms, Elissa Epel, both at the University of California, San Francisco. Although this method has been based on brain states since 2004, the work of Baylor College of Medicine's Bruce Perry, regarding the brain states of children of trauma, linked these states to specific brain regions. A professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, Robert Sapolski, immeasurably advanced the role of stress in human suffering in recent years. His work has documented how chronic stress causes significant deleterious effects on every organ system in the body and exacerbates a range of physical and mental afflictions, including depression, anxiety, ulcers, colitis, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, immune diseases, memory loss, some cancers and addictions. New York University's George LeDouxâs research on the brain's fear centers and University of Southern California's Antonio Damasio's study of the nature of emotions informed our work in important ways. The Scripp's Institute's George Koob's conceptualization of stress and addiction both enriched our work. Recent research in neuroplasticity gave us insights about how to rewire brain circuits more easily and quickly. Work pioneered by Michael Merzenich of the University of California, San Francisco helped us begin to see that brain retraining may be as useful as drugs for some conditions. Daniel Siegel of the University of California, Los Angeles pioneered the application of concepts from attachment theory to mindfulness, work that contributed significantly to our thinking about this method. Mindfulness is a practice that has a range of forms, but Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin at Madison studied the brains of monks who have engaged in loving kindness meditation. Jon Kabat-Zinn of the University of Massachusetts furthered the research in the area of mindfulness meditation and stress management. Harvard's George Valliant did elegant work on human development and, in particular, spiritual evolution, and University of California, Berkeley's Dacher Keltner made important inroads regarding the biologic basis for the role of positive emotions in spirituality and our very nature to strive to be good.
Creating the Future Recently, a national coordinating center for research on this method was established at the University of California, San Francisco. The center works with other centers nationwide to facilitate further research on this method, which is known as emotional brain training in the scientific community. The Emotional Brain Training Center of Excellence is located in the Center for Health and Community at UCSF, which is directed by Nancy Adler, Professor of Medical Psychology. Since this method was originally developed to treat obesity in children and adults, the EBT center is also affiliated with the Center for Obesity Assessment, Study and Training (COAST), which focuses much of its work on the role of stress in the development, exacerbation, prevention and treatment of obesity. Future directions include developing interventions for school-based preventive programs and for specific populations that are at risk. Additional research and training activities are key for this method in explore how rewiring the stress response and how we process daily life can impact health care delivery, and, ultimately, health and happiness.
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