Below are short descriptions of articles written by Linda Graham, MFT. To read/download the entire article, click on title link. Additional articles are archived in Newsletters.
The latest psychological research proves that self-discipline isn’t as critical to achieving your resolutions as treating yourself kindly is. Linda Graham joins other psychologists in suggesting that “self-compassion gives us a space to nurture ourselves so we can re-group and shift to a larger, kinder perspective – one that allows us to respond differently to our missteps.”
First for Women magazine, January 1, 2015
Adversity is a given and strikes everyone from time to time. Using a mixture of science, psychology, and mindfulness practice, Linda Graham teaches you how to cope with the challenges that life throws at you, elegantly.
Complete Well-Being magazine, January-February 2015
Keep Strong and Carry On (6.3MB PDF)
Chatelaine magazine, August 2014
Marilisa Racco’s article features Linda Graham as one of several contributors on the topic:
“Some days even the smallest challenge can feel insurmountable. Now psychologists are saying our best defence against stress and burnout is resilience. Here’s how to boost yours.”
Are You Living Your Happiest Life? (623 KB PDF)
“Psychologists (including Linda Graham, MFT) reveal the mental trap that holds you back from taking risks – and the simple strategies for overcoming it. First for Women magazine, July 14, 2014.
Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness and Psychotherapy blog, April 2014
From the introduction to the interview: From time to time I’ll bring you a leader in the field of Mindfulness who I believe has something to really teach us. Linda Graham, MFT is the author of Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being, where she does an excellent job showing us how mindfulness can help to rewire our brain for greater resilience. Linda has a wealth of experience as a seasoned clinician and also as a mindfulness teacher and practitioner.
Today she’ll talk to us about what parts of the brain to bolster for resiliency, a practice to help us do just that and the critical roles of compassion and equanimity.
Relational Intelligence (2013) (200K PDF)
Relational intelligence is an umbrella term I use for the people skills that allow us to navigate through our world, especially our peopled world, competently, effectively, resiliently. Similar to Daniel Goleman’s notion of emotional intelligence, relational intelligence allows our brains to create bonds with others that sustain us through thick and thin. Research shows that these bonds provide us with a deeper sense of happiness and well-being than anything else in the human experience. They are among the resources that sustain our resilience. More and more studies are showing that these skills of relational intelligence are more predictive of our success as human beings – resilience and well-being in the work place as well as in relationships – than I.Q.
These ten exercises in relational intelligence were Adapted from Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being as handouts for the Thrive Together Relationships Couples Conference in December 2013. The exercises strengthen the structures of the brain we use to relate skillfully and resiliently with others. May they be useful to you and yours.
The Neuroscience of Resilience (600K PDF)
Wise Brain Bulletin June 2010
This cutting edge article explores how to strengthen our capacities for resilience from the
bottom up – at the level of neurons firing in new patterns that promote flexibility in the
face of change. The article traces the nine functions of the pre-frontal cortex, considered
by some neuropsychologists to be an “evolutionary masterpiece,” and offers practical
tools and exercises to strengthen each of the nine functions:
- regulating our nervous system so we stay calm and engaged
- quelling the fear response
- regulating emotions so resilience is not blocked by fear or shame
- attunement – the safety and trust of “feeling felt”
- empathy – the safety and trust of being seen, known, understood
- response flexibility – the capacity to pause, recognize and evaluate options, and make
appropriate decisions; the fulcrum of resilience
- insight – self-awareness
- intuition – the guidance of our gut feelings
- morality based on a sense of connection with others and the common good
It is the integration of these functions that is the true neural substrate of resilience
Wise Brain Bulletin January 2010
This article explores how mindfulness and empathy can help us hold and heal the sense
of failure, rejection, and shame that traps us in the suffering of the belief that we are bad
The article explores the neurobiology of how shame memories get stuck in the neural
circuitry of our brains in the first place, and then guides readers through a protocol
of five steps to dissolve the sense of shame using spacious awareness and empathic
acceptance of any experience in the present moment – re-sourcing, regulating, re-
acceptance, reflection, and re-pairing.
A Warm Bath for the Brain: Understanding Oxytocin’s Role in Therapeutic Change – How to Get Through to Couples Caught in Fight-Flight-Freeze Mode
Psychotherapy Networker November-December 2009
This article explores the role of oxytocin – the hormone of safety and trust, of “calm
and connect,” in antidoting the powerful effects of cortisol, the stress hormone of fight-
flight-freeze. The article offers several practical tools clinicians can use with emotionally
agitated couples and traces their effectiveness with one particular case study.
Wise Brain Bulletin August 2009
The article explores how laughter evolved and how it makes us human; the positive
impacts of laughter on health and productivity; how laughter creates trust, social bonds,
and intimacy; how laughter helps people cope with stress, loss, trauma, and oppression.
Filled with stories, examples, quotes, and the latest research findings; the article will
make you smile – and think.
Wise Brain Bulletin April 2009
This article offers many practical tools and resources for coping with stress and trauma.
It also explores the neuroscience of what happens in our body-brain to cause a stress
response or a trauma response, and how we can reverse those responses, calming down
our nervous system and re-wiring our brain.
Attachment research and modern neuroscience are teaching us:
- our earliest relationships actually build the brain structures we use for relating lifelong;
- experiences in those early relationships encode in the neural circuitry of our brains by 12-18 months of age; these patterns of attachment become the “rules” for relating that operate lifelong, the “known but not remembered” givens of our relational lives.
- when those early experiences have been less than optimal, those unconscious patterns of attachment can continue to shape the perceptions and responses of the brain in old ways that get stuck, that can’t take in new experience as new information, can’t learn or adapt or grow from those experiences. What we have come to call the defensive patterns of personality disorders. What one clinician calls “tragic recursive patterns that become encased in neural cement.”
Fortunately, the human brain has always had the biologically innate capacity to grow new neurons – lifelong – and more importantly, to create new synaptic connections between neurons lifelong.
This neural plasticity of the brain was confirmed by neuroscientists in the year 2000. That’s just 8 years ago. Modern neuroscience IS new. 90% of what we know about how the brain works has been learned in the last 20 years.
In that time there’s been an explosion of discoveries relevant to addressing the wounds of less-than-optimal attachment: the social engagement system of the brainstem, the fight-flight response of the amygdala, mirror neurons, bonding hormones, the social-emotional bias of the right hemisphere, the positive bias of the left hemisphere, the neurological substrate of empathy and emotional regulation, the effect of trauma on explicit memory, interoception – how we know what’s going on in our bodies, the role of the pre-frontal cortex in attunement and learning the “rules” of attachment, the resonance circuits we can use in empathic therapeutic relationships to catalyze brain change in our clients.
The more we can become comfortable applying these discoveries to our interventions with clients, and the more we can learn specifically which interventions will most effectively accelerate change in our clients’ brains for the better, the more immediate and enduring our therapeutic interventions will be.
Click on the title above to read the entire article.
Mindfulness strengthens the observing ego—our capacity to step back from experience and observe it in the moment, without being hijacked, flooded, or triggered into repression or denial. Mindfulness pulls us out of afflictive states without beating ourselves up for getting caught in them. Paying attention to experience in the moment while simultaneously holding it in a larger consciousness creates new perspectives and choices. Mindfulness thus accelerates the therapeutic process, or any process of change.
Mindfulness is the cornerstone of a new alphabet of therapies—DBT, MBCBT, ACT—that help clients recover a sense of emotional equilibrium and begin to reflect on their experience, and the causes of their responses, with clarity and self-compassion.
Attachment theory explains how the relationship styles and “rules” that form the core of our personalities develop, unconsciously, in early interactions with caregivers.
Attachment research explains how therapy, by providing the very same experiences in adulthood that create secure attachment in early development – presence, attunement, empathy, affect regulation, reliable reciprocal communication and practical help – help create the internal secure base in clients that is the foundation of all mental and emotional health.
Attachment-based therapy helps clients literally re-program their brains and heal from the maladaptive relational-emotinal-coping strategies we term personality disorders to the flexible, adaptive, cohesive, integrated strategies that support the emergence of a fully authentic Whole Self.
Neuroscience has much to teach clinicians about how the brain that emerges the mind that emerges the self actually works. And much to teach clinicians about how therapeutic change actually works and lasts. This presentation explores how therapy can help clients create new neural circuits and better integrate existing circuits to promote mental and emotional well-being.
We now know, from recent discoveries in neuroscience about how the brain actually processs and stores experiences and information, that the largest part of the patterns or “rules” we develop about relationships, emotions, self, and coping with the world, are stored early on in the right hemispheres of our brains, implicitly (unconsciously) and non-verbally.
We also know from attachment research and infant development research, what those early response patterns are likely to be, why they can be so problemmatic when they show up in our adult lives, even though we “know better” with the help of the explicit, verbal processing of the left hemisphere of our brains.
This article explores how therapists can use the right hemisphere processing of their own brains to help clients access deeply embedded, implicit, non-verbal patterns and change them. Essential when those unconscious patterns are problemmatic or dysfunctional.
New interventions and techniques from cutting edge experiential therapies do help clients “re-program” their brains, creating new more functional patterns of response so that clients heal more quickly into a flexible, integrated, authentic sense of self and healthy, adaptive relationships with others.
The foundation of resilience – the development of capacities to cope – rests in the experiences of our earliest attachment relationships, where we procedurally learn to repair ruptures in relationship, regulate our emotions, and gel a stable yet flexible sense of self — or not.
When clients consistently have trouble coping with their lives in adulthood, they may lack the foundation of resilience – the unconscious internal secure base that comes from early secure attachments. Therapy needs to do – and can do – more than help such clients explicitly learn how to think, how to make decisions, how to plan, how to look for options. Therapists need to – and can – provide a safe, empathic, attachment realtionship – re-parenting, if you will – where clients recover capacities of self, relating, regulating and coping that are the true foundation of resilience.
Why referring clients to other clinicians actually helps build a referral base to get more clients…and how to do that.
How referring clients to resources outside of therapy – books, tapes, videos, movies, classes, workshops, seminars, meditation, yoga, exercise – can synergistically accelerate the therapeutic process.