The Mindsight Approach to Well-Being: A Comprehensive Course in Interpersonal Neurobiology (“IPNB”) 

If you are interested in learning how to cultivate resilience and well-being—be it in your personal life, your professional pursuits, or in your connections with other people and the planet we all share—this comprehensive dive into the field of interpersonal neurobiology will provide a solid, science-based foundation of both knowledge and skills. 

Interpersonal Neurobiology (“IPNB”) brings the various fields of science into one framework by building on the consilient findings, those discoveries found within independent disciplines of study, into one foundation of knowledge. Equipped with this view, you will be able to prepare your mind to deal with the challenges of our modern world in effective ways. Together we will explore how this scientific framework can help you support yourself and others in facing uncertainty and change and move our lives toward a stronger, more harmonious way of living. 

Segment 1 – Mind, Brain and Relationships in the Cultivation of Well-Being 

Description

This first dive into the IPNB framework provides you with the conceptual foundation and practical approaches to understand the mind and its connection to our embodied and our relational experiences. Once a working definition of the mind has been provided, a view of what a healthy mind means is explored in practical and integrative ways. This first segment of our journey lays the foundation to build a solid exploration of all that is to follow. 

In this thorough, 8 1/2 hour introduction to IPNB, a transdisciplinary, scientific framework and Dr. Dan Siegel’s Mindsight approach to well-being, we will dive into the fascinating framework for understanding the mind and mental health, as Dr. Siegel highlights the structure and function of the embodied brain and the bodily systems that shape our mental lives. You will be offered practical tools, such as the “Hand Model of the Brain,” case examples, and detailed descriptions of how to use the material in the process of transformation, including ways to plan and implement integrative interventions relevant for individuals, couples, and families. Integration—the linkage of differentiated parts of a system—is the deep mechanism underlying well-being, and with this first segment you’ll be introduced to integrative systems thinking that can aid in creating shifts in systems within and between, the inner and the inter, that comprise our experiences of life. For example, you will be provided insights to help integrate the nervous system across its many components with the social world in order to live with meaning, connection, and emotional balance. Furthering this synthesis of the inner and the inter aspects of life, you will learn how to apply the science of relationships, from romantic to familial and friendships, and discover how to support healthy interpersonal connections. 

Learning Objectives

1. Define what the mind is from an IPNB perspective

2. Explain how energy and information flow is regulated and forms the complex system of the mind

3. Differentiate the concepts of consciousness, subjective experience, and information processing

4. Outline how integration—the linkage of differentiated parts of a system—leads to optimal self-organization 

experienced as flexibility, adaptability, coherence (resilience across time), energy, and stability.

5. Identify the role that mindsight – insight, empathy, and integration – plays in well-being and rewarding relationships

6. Assess and expand one’s window of tolerance for certain emotions 

7. Highlight the ways in which the brain develops and changes through relationships, consciousness, and neuroplasticity

8. Demonstrate for colleagues or clients Dr. Siegel’s Hand Model of the Brain to support emotional regulation

9. Distinguish the seven nonverbal aspects of communication and their role in connecting with others

10. Analyze how Presence, Attunement, and Resonance foster Trusting relationships – the PART we play in psychotherapy

11. Model reflective dialogues for clients and others 

Segment 2 – Attachment and How Close Relationships Shape Who We Are 

Description

In our second segment, we will build on the view of the mind as being both an embodied and relational process to explore the science of connection. How and why are relationships so fundamental to our mental health? What makes a relationship integrative and supportive of well-being? Addressing these foundational questions through the lens of IPNB provides both conceptual insights and practical tools for cultivating well-being. 

You will learn how interactive experiences and reflection support the cultivation of integration in close relationships As with the learning throughout this course, in order to make the material your own you’ll be invited to explore your own direct experience and combine that with the concepts and scientific findings we’ll be reviewing throughout our journey. 

Learning Objectives

1. Identify the foundations of secure attachment

2. Outline how relational connection influences the growth of connections in the brain

3. Describe the science of kindness, empathy, compassion, and forgiveness

4. Identify the role self-compassion plays in integration and well-being

5. Outline how relational integration is the basis of neural integration

6. Differentiate among secure, ambivalent, avoidant, and disorganized attachment categories

7. Implement findings from the Adult Attachment Interview into self-understanding as well as clinical assessment and treatment

8. Outline how to create a coherent narrative and earned secure attachment pattern 

Segment 3 – The Domains of Integration: Consciousness and Dr. Siegel’s Reflective Practice, “The Wheel of Awareness” 

Description

Two foundational and consilient ideas are brought together in this third segment of our journey: Integration is the basis of well-being and consciousness is needed for intentional change. Here we’ll see what “integrating consciousness” gives rise to by using the results of a 10,000 person survey of the Wheel of Awareness, a practice and metaphor for the mind’s awareness in the hub and that which we are aware of represented on the rim. With a singular spoke of attention differentiating these knowns along the rim from the knowing of the hub, we’ll see how we not only achieve new vistas into the nature of mind and consciousness, but also how to cultivate well-being and resilience in our lives. 

We will begin to examine the key elements of integration, as well as the differentiation and linkage of parts of a system by focusing on the first domain, Consciousness, and how it applies to IPNB. Within this exploration, that will include detailed descriptions of the science, case examples, and clinical summaries, you will acquire the ability to incorporate what you are learning into your practice, workplace, and personal life. 

Learning Objectives

1. Outline the scientific underpinnings of the view that integration is the basis of health and resilience

2. Define the 9 domains of integration

3. Reframe mental health challenges as impediments to integration in the form of chaos and rigidity

4. Identify the process of change toward well-being as opportunities for growth of integration

5. Implement conceptualizations of the 9 domains of integration into self-understanding as well as understanding others—and diagnosis, treatment planning, and intervention if you are a clinician

6. Embody the 9 domains of integration by engaging in and teaching others the integrative movement series

7. Outline the steps of the Wheel of Awareness practice to integrate consciousness and support well-being

8. Describe the 3-P diagram and interpret integration of consciousness through the model of the plane of possibility 

Segment 4 – The Domains of Integration: Linking the Two Sides of the Brain, the Embodied Brain and Memory 

Description

In our fourth segment, the notion that mind is an emergent property of energy flow will be highlighted and explored by examining three aspects in which that flow occurs. One is within the asymmetrically organized aspects of the right and left sides of the brain. Another is how the brain in the head is intricately interconnected to the body as a whole, receiving input by way of the tenth cranial nerve (the vagus) as well as the spinal cord in input from the blood stream. A third aspect of neural interconnecting happens across time with how our memory systems embed our past experiences with not only how we perceive in the present, but how we anticipate and plan for the future. 

We will dive deeply into the second, third, and fourth domains of Bilateral, Vertical, and Memory Integration as illuminated by the framework of IPNB: 

Bilateral integration draws upon extensive scientific research over many decades revealing the distinct neural structures and functions on the left and right sides of the brain. Controversies about bilaterality are addressed, and clinical examples of the utility of approaching this asymmetry are explored. 

Vertical integration refers to the ways in which cortically mediated consciousness, at the anatomic “top” of the body, are then linked to the differentiated processes from below the cortex, as in the limbic, brainstem, and internal organs of the torso. This interoceptive process of being aware enables the energy and information flow from beneath the cortex to become a part of a reflective process on emotion and intuition. 

Memory integration refers to the two “layers” of encoding that can be disconnected with stressful experiences, such as trauma. Pure implicit memory, for example, may be retrieved as bodily sensations, emotions, perceptions, and behaviors without a sense that something from the past is entering consciousness. The clinical harnessing of awareness and the activation of the hippocampus can weave these implicit elements into their more flexible forms in the explicit factual and autobiographical memory layers. The healing of trauma may often involve work at each of these three domains of integration. 

Learning Objectives

1. Implement conceptualizations of the Bilateral, Vertical and Memory domains of integration into self- understanding, and for diagnosis, treatment planning, and intervention, if you are a clinician

2. Embody the Bilateral, Vertical and Memory domains of integration by engaging in and, if you are a clinician, even teaching clients the integrative movement series

3. Identify the roles of and relationship between the left and right sides of the brain

4. Recognize impediments to bilateral integration and use practical techniques to support the growth of bilateral integration

5. Identify when there are challenges in vertical differentiation and/or linkage within the nervous system and employ methods to support neuroplasticity to achieve greater neural integration and well-being 

6. Evaluate impairment of integration in memory processes in everyday life and in trauma

7. Explain the role of both implicit and explicit memory in trauma resolution and health 

Segment 5 – The Domains of Integration: Making Sense of Life through Narrative and Our Various States of Mind 

Description

The brain has been called “an anticipation machine” as it learns from the past to get ready for what is happening next. Relationships shape that capacity to have “top-down” learning, shaping what we perceive based on these past experiences and the beliefs we carry within our ways of making sense of life. As story-telling beings, our self-narratives organize our ongoing experiences in life, preparing us for what’s next while sometimes imprisoning us in the stories of who we think we are. The state of our mind in the present moment, then, is a combination of what we’ve experienced and what we anticipate happening next. Integration involves developing coherent narratives and embracing the reality of the many states of mind that shape our lives. 

In this fifth segment of our journey, our discussion delves into the fifth and sixth domains of integration: Narrative and State. Human beings are meaning-making creatures, and how life experience impacts the mind directly involves how an individual comes to make sense of events. Trauma and other stressful experiences can have their negative impact, in part, by how an event cannot be understood and then gets woven into the narrative of the individual’s life. 

The mind also has many aspects or ways that it functions, and some of these can best be understood to cluster into a “state” of mind. When such repeated state assemblies arise, they can be seen as “self-states” that define an individual’s identity. Some of the central needs of such states, such as a need for solitude or a need to be social, are in direct conflict with one another. 

State integration can involve the honoring of different needs across states, and then the linking of these needs not in one global state, but in the distribution of social time and time for being in nature across a given day. Integration in this domain involves differentiating those needs and empowering a person to cultivate ways to have those needs met in a health-promoting manner. 

Learning Objectives

1. Assess the coherency of narrative and identify how to cultivate the flexibility of one’s mind

2. Reframe “stress” from an interpersonal neurobiology lens in order to build resilience, grit, and a growth mindset

3. Differentiate layers, aspects, and parts in the context of the sense of self

4. Describe the adaptive strategy of dissociation and if you are a clinician, learn ways to work with clients to integrate differentiated states

5. Identify the neurobiological processes, attachment patterns, and narrative characteristics that relate to Unresolved, Dismissing, and Preoccupied attachment histories

6. Develop a coherent narrative and the making-sense process of self-reflection

7. Outline how to identify unresolved trauma or loss within the narrative process

8. Explore how incoherence of narratives impact the integration of states of mind 

Segment 6 – The Domains of Integration: Interpersonal Relationships, Dimensions of Time and Facets of Identity 

Description

In our sixth and final segment, we will deepen the understanding of how relational integration shapes our well-being, drawing further on the science of attachment and our experience within close, connecting communication with others. 

The integration of our lives across time involves essential aspects of our existence: longing for immortality, permanence, and certainty in the face of the reality of mortality, impermanence, and uncertainty. Finally, embracing all these and the other domains of integration highlights fundamental experiences of our very identity. Yes, we have an inner sense of life and who we are—a “me” or “I”—and we also have a relational sense of “we” or “us.” Integration involves linking differentiated elements, and within that linkage not losing the unique features of the differentiated, specialized aspects. In this way, an integrated identity can be seen as Me plus We equals “MWe.” 

How our inner self connects with “others” is the essence of interpersonal integration. We can feel seen and understood, “feeling felt” and having a sense of belonging, without losing our sense of internal integrity. 

Temporal integration includes the linking of the differentiated contrasts of a longing for certainty in the face of uncertainty; a longing for permanence in the face of transience; and a longing for immortality in the face of the reality of mortality. Embracing these poles of what we long for and accepting what is real is the heart of temporal integration. 

A final domain of integration refers to that of identity, addressing the fundamental experience of having an inner, familial, and cultural sense of self with the inherent evolutionary biases of “in-group” and “out-group” distinctions. Identity integration enables all of us, from clinicians to educators to business leaders, government officials, and each of us, to work along the whole continuum of domains to address these fundamental ways we come to define who we are and how we live in the complex, ever-changing and ever-more interconnected world we share. 

Learning Objectives

1. Identify the key components of feeling felt that highlight interpersonal integration

2. Outline how relational integration leads to neural integration

3. Differentiate the quantum and Newtonian classical physics aspects of experience from the viewpoint of IPNB.

4. Evaluate issues of mortality, uncertainty, and transience and the experience of the Arrow of Time in support of temporal integration

5. Reframe the experience of identity from an IPNB lens

6. Assess the evolutionary, cultural, and familial aspects of identity

7. Formulate how to support integration of identity to bring more compassion and kindness into the world

8. Identify key features of secure attachment and how they relate to adult-adult relationships 

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