Rewire the Anxious Brain: Neuroscience-Informed Treatment of Anxiety, Panic and Worry – Marwa Azab
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Watch neuroscience and anxiety expert, Marwa Azab, Ph.D., and learn her keys for successful anxiety treatment. Dr. Azab integrates brain-based strategies for calming the anxious mind with client communication techniques that motivate change in your clients. Marwa’s approach promotes adherence to treatment and strengthens the therapeutic alliance – which is essential when working with anxious, worried, traumatized, or obsessive clients.
Dr. Azab will give you proven tools and techniques to:
- Identify and treat the roots of anxiety in both the amygdala and the cortex
- Explain “the language of the amygdala” in an accessible, straight forward way
- Identify how the cortex contributes to anxiety, and empower clients with strategies to resist anxiety-igniting cognitions
This transformational workshop recording will put the power of neuroplasticity to work for you and your anxious clients!
- Ascertain the underlying neurological processes that impact anxious symptoms for clients.
- Develop client engagement in treatment using personalized goals and attending to the therapeutic relationship.
- Evaluate the differences between amygdala-based and cortex-based anxiety symptoms and identify how these symptoms inform treatment interventions.
- Communicate strategies for calming and training the amygdala in order to alleviate symptoms of anxiety.
- Implement methods for teaching clients to retrain the cortex so that anxiety is resisted rather than exacerbated.
- Analyze how psychotropic medication impacts neuroplasticity in the brain; identify related treatment implications.
Use Neuroscience in the Treatment of Anxiety
- Positives: We know more about anxiety-based disorders than any other disorders
- Science gives explanations, evidence, authority, destigmatizes difficulties
- Concerns: It can be difficult to explain, answer questions
- Clients may feel a lack of responsibility
- Oversimplification is inevitable
Enhancing Engagement in Treatment
- Don’t neglect the therapeutic relationship!
- Address the challenges of anxious clients
- Remember that strategies are effortful
- Guide the process using client’s goals
- Maintain motivation
- Define Neuroplasticity in everyday language
- Therapy is about creating a new self
- ”Rewiring” as an accessible concept for change
- Re-consolidation: the modification of emotional memories
Identify Two Neural Pathways to Anxiety
- Amygdala – bottom-up triggering of emotion, physicality of anxiety
- Cortex – top-down emotion generation based in cognition
- Explain the two pathways to clients
- How anxiety is initiated in each pathway and how pathways influence each other
Client Friendly Explanations
- Use illustrations to create concrete understanding
- Fight/flight/freeze responses
- The “language of the amygdala”
- Anxiety and the cortex
- Help clients recognize the two pathways to anxiety
Neuroplasticity in the Amygdala (Essential for all Anxiety Disorders, PTSD, OCD, Depression)
- Sleep and the amygdala
- The influence of exercise
- Breathing techniques to reduce activation
- Relaxation, meditation, and yoga to modify responses
- Exposure as opportunities for the amygdala to learn
- Combatting avoidance
- When anxiety indicates that the amygdala can learn new responses
- Push through anxiety to change the amygdala
Neuroplasticity in the Cortex (Essential for GAD, SAD, OCD, PTSD, Depression)
- ”Survival of the busiest” principle – strengthen or weaken specific circuitry
- The healthy (adaptive) use of worry in the cortex
- ”You can’t erase: You must replace.”
- Recognize and modify the impact of uncertainty
- Training correct uses of distraction
- Left hemisphere techniques – cognitive defusion, coping thoughts, fighting anticipation
- Right hemisphere techniques – imagery, music
- Mindfulness and anxiety resistances
Neuroplasticity and Medications for Anxiety Disorders, OCD, PTSD, Depression
- Medication’s effects in the rewiring process
- The myth of the chemical imbalance
- The danger of sedating the brain with benzodiazepines
- Promoting neuroplasticity with SSRIs, SNRIs
- The effectiveness of CBT and meds
Move Beyond Diagnostic Categories to Focus on Anxiety Pathways
- Anxiety is a component of many diagnoses (depression, substance abuse, etc.)
- Amygdala- and cortex-based techniques help in other disorders
- Targeting brain-based symptoms rather than disorders
- Worry, obsessions, rumination respond to similar cortex-based techniques
- Panic, phobic responses, and compulsions respond to amygdala-based techniques
Research, Risks and Limitations
- Empirical versus clinical and anecdotal evidence
- Clinical considerations for specific clients and settings
- Efficacy of particular interventions may vary
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