Essential Neuroscience Wisdom for Psychotherapists Part 1: Using Neurobiology to Understand Why Humans Do What They Do

Presented by Kim Barthel, OT on 01-10-2014 at 9 a.m. Pacific to 11 a.m. Pacific (2 p.m. Eastern)

Why do humans do what they do? This is a question that mental health clinicians ask themselves daily as they support those with challenging behavioral and mental health issues. Neuroscience has taught us that understanding the brain leads to a better understanding of those we treat. Our current, evolving, scientific understanding of epigenetics and behavioral neurobiology profoundly informs a counseling practice, guiding clinical reasoning and relational elements of healing. This presentation will introduce the fundamental concepts of brain-behavior science in an enlightening and invigorating conversation that translates directly into practical clinical action.

The way that genes continuously adapt contributes to temperament and behavior. We will review how genes form, how they regulate the brain and body, and how they are directly influenced by their environments. In addition, the brain changes, reorganizes, learns, and heals in response to external stimulus, including that of the therapeutic environment. Therapists can facilitate this change, increasing self-understanding, resilience, and capacity for self-regulation that leads to healthier mental well-being and engagement. The presentation will also emphasize the importance of understanding how neural networks of social engagement, learning, and stress regulation are formed through early infant caregiver relationships and how these form the implicit emotional memories that are the foundation for how we engage in the world.

This web conference is intermediate instructional level and designed to help clinicians:

  1. Identify how genes influence temperament and behavior.
  2. Describe the brain's capacity to heal and change.
  3. Discuss the role that early attachments play in developing a person's capacity for stress, social engagement, and learning.
  4. Demonstrate how regulation through the therapeutic relationship can change the brain.

This teleconference is the first in a series of four presentations on neuroscience's contributions and relevance to psychotherapy. Participants are welcome to register for any one event or all four. The fourth presentation will include a panel discussion with the three presenters, moderated by's CEO, Noah Rubinstein. If you have any questions about this web conference or would like more information, please contact us here.

Event Reviews from Members

She was an excellent presenter and the workshop was inspiring to learn even more about neuroscience. - Denise Humphrey, PhD

Continuing Education (CE) Information

Two CE credits will be provided by for attending this web conference in its entirety. is also an Approved Education Provider by NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals (provider #135463). Of the eight counselor skill groups ascribed to by NAADAC, this course is classified within counseling services. is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEPTM) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. maintains responsibility for this program and its content., SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0395. 

To receive CE credit hours for an archived event, you will need to complete a survey as well as a 12 or 15-question exam, verifying that you listened to or watched the event in its entirety. Archived CE events generally are considered "homestudy" by licensing boards.

Registration Information

Premium and Pro Membership with GoodTherapy includes access to this web conference at no additional cost, as well as other member benefits such as a profile listing in GoodTherapy's Therapist Directory. Not yet a member? Sign up for a Premium or Pro Membership, here.

Just want CE credits? Sign up for a monthly or annual CE Subscription with GoodTherapy to get unlimited access to our CE Program, including this event, other live CE web conferences, and hundreds of hours of homestudy courses.

Mental health professionals who are not members can attend this live web conference for $30.95 or access the homestudy recording for $15.50. Sign up here to purchase this CE course and earn a CE certificate.

If the event is canceled by GoodTherapy, registrants who purchased the event will be notified and the charge for the event will be refunded

If you have any questions or would like information regarding disability accommodations, please contact us.


Donald Hebb, way back in the 1940s, said “neurons that fire together, wire together,” which means that all the nerve cells in your brain that come online during a particular stimulus, when they come online together over time, what will happen is those connections form a relationship with each other and they become hardwired. And in that hardwiring it makes the communication between those two nerve cells faster, easier, and more consistent so that the brain doesn’t have to work so hard. It says, “I recognize you. You’re an apple. The last time I looked at you, you looked like that. And here you are again and that’s a stimulus I can recognize.” This is the hardware of the brain that makes us be able to interact with the environment in the way that we do. So every stimulus that we experience sets up this chain of events of interactions between synapsis that is a highway of communications.

So we also think about this as neurons that stop firing together, stop wiring together. So if you don’t use it, you also lose it. And these are the plastic—plastic meaning changeable—concepts of the brain. The brain is not laid down in stone. It is modifiable and changeable as long as you are still breathing. - Kim Barthel, OT

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Meet the Presenter

Kim Barthel, OT

Kim Barthel, OT

Kim Barthel, OT, combines the cutting-edge science of neurobiology and occupational therapy to evolve the consciousness of humanity. She is a visionary with 30 years of experience as a pediatric occupational therapist working with neurological and developmental disabilities.

Kim travels internationally, providing therapist trainings on trauma, sensory integration therapy, neuro-development treatments, and the science of attachment. In addition to teaching In China, India, and Singapore, she has also worked with the Inuit in Nunavut. Her new book, Waking up to Healing, co-authored with former NHL hockey star, Theo Fleury, will be released soon. Kim and her family reside in Victoria, BC. For more information on Kim and her work, please visit

Continuing Education Provider Approvals

  • is Approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • Logo has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6380. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
  • Logo This course has been approved by, as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for educational credits. NAADAC Provider #135463. is responsible for all aspects of their programming.
  •, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0395.
  •, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists #MFT-0022 and for licensed mental health counselors #MHC-0031.

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