The Mind-Body Connection
Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director, AllCEUs
Host, Counselor Toolbox
President, Recovery and Resilience International

Counseling continuing education can be earned for this presentation at https://www.allceus.com/member/cart/index/product/id/570/c/

Objectives
~    Learn about your central control center, the brain
~    What role does it play in
~    Emotions
~    Thoughts
~    Physical Reactions/Sensations
~    How things can go wrong
~    How to fix those things
The Brain
~    Your central control center
~    Takes in information
~    Compares it to what it already knows (or thinks it knows) from prior experiences
~    Makes a decision about what to do.
~    Based on that decision it activates action centers which excrete neurotransmitters in order to produce the desired reaction.
Neurotransmitters and Mood Creation
~    Chemical messengers take “orders” to and from the brain through the nervous system
~    The Big 5 fall into 2 main categories
~    Excitatory:
~    Dopamine = Pleasure
~    Norepinepherine & Glutamate: Motivation and stimulation (get-up-and-go)
~    Inhibitory:
~    GABA – Relax
~    Serotonin – Calming, contentment
Neurotransmitters Function
~    Emotional
~    Happiness
~    Sadness
~    Anger & Fear
~    Mental
~    Concentration
~    Learning
~    Decision Making
~    Physical
~    Sleep behavior
~    Eating behavior
~    Libido
~    Gastrointestinal Functioning/motility
~    Pain perception
Think About It
~    What is your body’s response when you are
~    “Afraid”
~    “Angry”
~    “Depressed”

Mood Disorders
~    An imbalance in neurotransmitters will cause emotional, mental, or physical “distress”
~    What causes imbalances
~    Reduced Flow & Insufficiency
~    Too much “stress” for too long
~    Addictive behaviors
~    Medications
~    Poor nutrition
~    Insufficient sleep

Neurotransmitters, Addiction & Black Friday
~    Normal day
~    Normal store capacity is 750 people.
~    The store needs a constant 500 to stay open
~    The store has 8 doors to allows for people to easily enter and exit without getting “bunched”
~    Black Friday
~    1500 people push through the door as soon as it opens
~    Store is destroyed
~    Staff is exhausted
~    Takes time to restock and refresh staff
~    Management closes all but two doors and adds security guards to manage flow

Where Does the Information Come From
~    Your Stress Sensor: Peripheral Nervous System
~    Your nervous system continues to feed the brain information about whether the threat is:
~    Continuing and something else needs to be done
~    Subsiding and your brain can tell your body to relax.
~    How does all this happen?
~    How does the brain “know” what is threatening?

Lets find out…

The Brain
~    When you were born, there were very few things that were “meaningful”
~    You assigned meaning to things through observation and experience
~    When something happens you compare it to prior experiences to decide what to do
The Brain
~    Unfortunately until about age 7 children’s interpretation of behavior is:
~    Centric—Based on one thing at a time
~    Concrete
~    All-or-nothing
~    Egocentric
~    Things you learned as a child may be:
~    Inaccurate
~    No longer applicable
The Brain
~    Interpretations are only as good as:
~    The information coming in
~    The prior knowledge
~    Things that are learned in early childhood need to be re-examined as we grow
~    Once you were in middle school you could be taught to start
~    Considering multiple aspects of a situation
~    Using abstract reasoning (Looking for other interpretations of events)

Example 1
~    Child brings home report card
~    Child hears negative messages from a parent
~    Why did you get a C, I know you are not that stupid.
~    Why can’t you do anything right?
~    Child interprets
~    All-or-Nothing: I cannot do anything to make my parent proud.
~    Egocentric: I am not lovable.
~    Future behaviors
~    Desperately seeking approval
~    Fears of abandonment

Example 1 Alternative
~    Child brings home report card
~    Child hears neutral or positive messages from a parent
~    Why did you get a C in math?  It seems like you might need some help in that subject.
~    You are really smart and a good student, what is causing you difficulty?
~    Child Interpretation
~    All-or-nothing needs to be refocused to specifics
~    Egocentric & Single focused needs to be broadened to the big picture
~    Future behaviors
~    Child starts learning to examine specific behaviors
~    Child is able to identify strengths and weaknesses

Example 2
~    Parent abandons the family
~    Child interprets
~    My parent has to love me.
~    My parent left.
~    My parent must hate me.
~    I am unlovable.
~    Future Behaviors:
~    Feelings of inadequacy
~    Fears of abandonment
~    Seeking external validation that was not received from parent

Example 2
~    Parents separate but both parents are still actively involved in the child’s life
~    Child interprets
~    My parent has to love me.
~    My parent is still in my life.
~    My parent will always be there for me.
~    Result:
~    Adult feeling adequate and able to provide internal validation
~    Adult feeling secure in relationships (even if someone goes away they will be back)

Example 3
~    Child witnesses domestic violence
~    Child sees mom get hurt and “make” Daddy drink and hit her because she “makes” him mad.
~    Child hears father criticizing mother and telling her how useless she is
~    Child interprets: If I do not do absolutely everything right I will be unlovable and useless.
Example 3
~    Future behaviors
~    Shrouded in fear of failure either causing the person to refuse to try, or to be a perfectionist.
~    Nothing I do is good enough and it will “make” other people unhappy
~    Fears of abandonment
~    Need for external validation
~    Child has learned that he or she is responsible for other’s feelings and behaviors

What’s the Point
~    Much of your anxiety and distress may come from
~    Faulty interpretations of prior experiences creating faulty interpretations of present experiences
~    The brain using outdated experiences
~    Negative Messages = Threat  Stress Reaction
~    When you constantly bombard yourself with negative messages
~    Your body constantly perceives a threat
~    You are on “high alert” all the time  Exhaustion, depression, hopelessness & helplessness
~    Your brain turns down the sensitivity of the threat response system  Apathy and lack of pleasure and motivation

But That’s Not All…
~    Simply reducing your “stress” often will not fix it.
~    When you were overly stressed you may have
~    Had poor quality sleep
~    Eaten poorly
~    Carried tension in your muscles causing pain
~    To rebalance itself, the body needs to have
~    Times when it is not on high-alert
~    Sufficient QUALITY sleep
~    Decent nutrition to fuel the system

Summary
~    The brain is your central control center
~    Neurotransmitters are sent out to produce a reaction to help you
~    Survive a threat
~    Repeat a reward
~    Through observation and experience it “learns” what is okay and what is threatening
~    Things that were threatening or misinterpreted in the past may now need to be re-examined
~    Too much stress or “excitement” for too long means the brain is sending out far more “excitatory neurotransmitters” changing the balance
~    After a hard day, you often want to relax and “veg”  This is the brain sending out the “all clear” message and “inhibitory” or calming chemicals to balance out the stress of the day.

Summary
~    After a hard day, you often want to relax and “veg”  This is the brain sending out the “all clear” message and “inhibitory” or calming chemicals to balance out the stress of the day.
~    When the brain does not get the “all clear” it recognizes that it needs to conserve the “excitatory” chemicals for a true emergency so it turns down the sensitivity of the threat response system (basically saying if you wont conserve energy, I will force you to)
~    By addressing those old, unhelpful thoughts and interpretations you can reduce physical and mental stress and anxiety.
~    This in turn helps your body have some “down time” to recovery between stressors.
~    Recovery involves not only helping your mind and thoughts become healthy, but also your body

NEW PODCAST
Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery
with  Doc Snipes
Launch Date: March 1, 2017

A podcast designed for the average person who wants to be happier or is dealing with issues of anxiety, depression and/or addiction.