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Brent Atkinson

Brent Atkinson, PhD


Emotional Reconditioning: Practices that Reduce Reactivity and Prime the Attachment System
Saturday November 12, 2016
9:00 - 5:00       $170/$147 until 10/21      7 CE hours


Returning to UCI with new material, Dr. Atkinson is a master at translating the advances in neurobiology and relationship science into practical methods. In this workshop, he will present a more thorough version of the micro-skills used in the Pragmatic/Experiential model of Couples Therapy. After demonstrating powerful methods for cutting through blame and resolving old resentments, he will show you how to design and guide clients in implementing personalized emotional reconditioning programs.

To navigate a relationship skillfully, one’s brain must be wired in ways that enable mood-regulation, self-soothing, response-flexibility, and empathy. The neural mechanisms that enable such aptitudes cannot be willed at a moment’s notice, but much research suggests that they can be strengthened through practice. Dr. Atkinson will present step-by-step methods for motivating clients to engage in daily exercises that cultivate the aptitudes that are needed for better connection, including:

  1. Accessing audio recordings and interactive, web-based tools that provide on-demand, personalized, step-by-step guidance
  2. Implementing practice protocols that deliberately re-stimulate and interrupt old emotional reactions
  3. Engaging in “sustained inviting” practices that strengthen the brain’s intimacy circuits, boosting feelings of empathy, playfulness, and desire
  4. Using smartphone technology to create a system of reminders, protocols, and check-in procedures that enhance follow-through

In this workshop, you will learn how to:

  • Engage in straight-talk with clients about their detrimental habits
  • Facilitate rapid internal state shifts in each partner by taking breaks during joint sessions to meet individually
  • Introduce clients to a protocol that they can use to recalibrate when they lapse into old habits between sessions
  • Design personalized exercises that recondition couples’ automatic responses in emotionally-reactive situations

Brent Atkinson is the principal architect of the Pragmatic/Experiential Method for Improving Relationships and is the author of Developing Habits for Relationship Success and Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy. Director of Post-Graduate Training at the Couples Research Institute and Professor Emeritus at Northern Illinois University, Dr. Atkinson is known for his ability to present complex scientific ideas in compelling and easy-to-understand ways. His seminars are packed with cutting-edge information, video examples of practical interventions, and handouts that can be given to clients.