Monday, November 05, 2012

Narrative Co-construction

Parent-child talk, in the context of emotional attunement, provides the ground for the co-construction of narratives. ... When verbal interactions include references to sensations, feelings, behaviors, and knowledge, they provide a medium through which the child's brain is able to integrate the various aspects of its experience in a coherent manner. ... This integrative process is what psychotherapy attempts to establish when it is absent.

When caretakers are unable to tolerate certain emotions, they will be excluded from their narratives or shaped into distorted but more acceptable forms. ... At the extreme, parents can be so overwhelmed by the emotions related to unresolved trauma that their narratives become disjointed and incoherent. On the other hand, narratives that struggle to integrate frightening experiences with words can serve as the context for healing by simultaneously creating cortical activation and increasing descending control over subcortically triggered emotions. ---pp. 207-208, The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy

The critical question for me is that what differentiates healing narrative co-construction from regular conversations with little healing consequences ... or is there a difference?

Neuroscience suggests that an important aspect of love is the absence of fear. If therapists and adoptive parents can create an environment that minimizes fear and maximizes the positive neurochemistry of attachment through human compassion, attachment circuitry can be stimulated to grow in ways which are not only healing, but that allow victims of abuse and neglect to risk forming a bond with another.
Because the process of attachment is, at heart, a way in which social animals initially regulate fear, and later their affective lives, modifying insecure attachment, first and foremost, requires the establishment of a safe and secure relationship. Therapists work diligently to establish this type of relationship for each client .... ---p. 211, The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy

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