Stephen Stein, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Training
Description of Mind/Body Approaches
Mind/Body approaches maybe evidenced in modalities including, but not restricted to, meditation, mindfulness, guided imagery, hypnosis, yoga, Q Gong, and T’ai chi. One way to conceptualize these Mind/Body approaches is by looking at the common components of these experiences and their effects. Through the mind body approaches, a heightened state of consciousness is achieved which leads to increases in cognitive, emotional and perceptual awareness. This heightened state of consciousness produces a psycho-biological transformation that promotes healing, neural integration and neuroplasticity.
The psycho-biological transformation can be observed in the brain and psychological functioning. According to Dr. Rick Hanson, “meditation increases gray matter in brain regions that handle attention, compassion, and empathy. It also helps a variety of medical conditions, strengthens the immune system, and improves psychological functioning” (Hanson, pg. 96).
According to Dr. Daniel Siegel, some very important functions of psychological wellbeing are related to secure attachments and can also be enhanced by meditation. These functions are related to areas of the brain that include the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), the medial and ventral prefrontal cortex (MPFC and VPFC) and the insula cortex (IC) (Siegel, pg. 334). Some of those functions are body regulation, attuned communication, emotional balance, response flexibility, empathy, insight, intuition, and fear modulation.
When mind body approaches are employed, the following changes in the brain occur including, but not restricted to:
1) increases in gray matter in the insula,
2) increases in the gray matter in the hippocampus,
3) increases in gray matter in the prefrontal cortex,
4) increases in the volume in the anterior cingular cortex,
5) decreases in the level of stress related cortisol,
6) decreases in the volume of the amygdala,
7) promotes the balance of the hippocampal/amygdala axis,
8) promotes neural integration which creates a balance of the right and left hemisphere of the brain, and
9) promotes a higher activation of the Parasympathetic nervous system and the reduction of activation of the Sympathetic nervous system.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D. (2009). Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Daniel J. Siegel (2007). The Mindful Brain. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Stephen Stein, Ph.D.
Stephen Stein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in Washington D.C . and Maryland and holds a certificate of professional qualification in psychology granted by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. Dr. Stein has been in practice for 30 years and provides individual, group, and couples therapy, supervision, consultation and training to psychologists and other mental health professionals. He is the current President of DCPA and has previously held the positions of Vice President of Operations from 2010 to 2013, and Vice President for Professional Affairs from 2005 to 2007. He has also served as Chair of the Ethics Committee for DCPA from 2010 to 2013 and had been the previous chair from 1991 to 2006. From 2006 to the present, Dr. Stein has conducted study groups, training programs, and workshops for the following institutions: The University of Maryland, the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, The Washington Society of Psychoanalytic Psychology (Division 39 of the APA), the Counseling Center at Catholic University of America, and his private practice. These programs were designed for the clinical application of an integration of neuroscience and contemporary psychotherapeutic approaches combining theory, scientific findings and the effective application of Mind/Body techniques to enhance clinical practice and personal experience.
Dr. Stein’s past positions include the following: Chair of Clinical Psychology Externship Program from 1983 to 1987 for the DC Institute of Mental Hygiene and Supervising Psychologist for DC Institute for Mental Hygiene from 1980 to 1987. In addition, he was also on the senior staff of the Counseling Center at Catholic University of America from 1976 to 1979. Dr. Stein has also been engaged in the provision of life enhancement and colleague assistance programs, employing Mind/Body approaches and principles of relational psychology to facilitate psychological well being, social justice, and professional development across diverse occupational areas.