Profs and Pints Annapolis presents: “How Therapy Changes Brains,” with Christopher W.T. Miller M.D., associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and psychiatrist and psychoanalyst practicing at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
We sometimes blame or credit our mental “wiring” for how we react to certain situations. We might say, for example, that we’re wired to distrust people or to feel lousy about ourselves. What many fail to recognize, however, is that much of this “wiring,” rather than being innate and there to stay, is the product of our experiences and can be altered over time. Tremendous advances in the neurosciences in recent decades have linked various psychiatric symptoms to activity in certain brain pathways and also have shown that these pathways can be changed with medications, psychotherapy, and other forms of treatment.
Join Dr. Christopher Miller, an associate psychiatry professor who has written and lectured on the intersection of neuroscience and psychotherapy, for a fascinating look at how our mental pathways are shaped by our environments and how we can actively take steps to alter them to direct our thoughts and emotions in healthier, happier directions.
Dr. Miller will talk about how our early lives are a crucial time in the shaping of our brain circuitry and in laying down the “blueprint” for how we think about ourselves and others. Because the brain’s sensitivity to the environment is greatest during childhood, it is during this time that what we experience has its strongest and most enduring impact.
If our childhood environment is safe and benign, we can develop greater flexibility in thinking and more nuanced perspectives. If we grow up in dangerous or neglectful environments, our brains register and lock in a blueprint of strong emotional reactions, high stress, and difficulty with thinking through situations. We can get caught up in negative “thought loops” and find ourselves at the mercy of difficult emotions that we have trouble controlling, tendencies connected with conditions such as depression and anxiety.
There’s hope, though. Because our brains continue to be responsive to experiences over our full lifespan, some of the unhelpful patterns laid down during early life can be changed and reshaped by the work of therapy. You’ll learn how the modification of maladaptive pathways through therapy results in improvement in symptoms. This talk’s lessons might help put you on a pathway toward greater self-understanding and a happier life. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
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