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Introduction on Neuropsychoanalysis

Alexey Tolchinsky, Psy.D.
February 21, 2018, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
MPA office or Online via Zoom
1.5 CEs
$30/MPA/MSPA members, $55/Non-members

Workshop Instructional Level:Beginning: Familiarity with fundamentals of psychodynamic formulation and biological basis of clinical psychology is assumed

There is no potential conflict of interest and/or commercial support for this program or its presenter.

Many modalities of psychology therapy developed thus far are based on the "top down" theories of the mind, which are detached from neurobiology. Neuroscientists, on the other hand, have developed many "bottom up" models that often fail to integrate complex, dynamic, and subjective mental processes. Depression, for example, has been known since Hippocrates as a clinical phenomenon; however, we still do not have a comprehensive, unified theory of depression, which successfully integrates the neurobiological factors with subjective mental phenomena, such as "a sense of loss." Meanwhile, neuro buzzwords became widely popular in the past decade, with amygdala and prefrontal cortex suddenly seen as responsible for nearly every clinical phenomenon known to us. Some try and catch up with the latest 'amygdala news', others may choose to reject the neurobiological perspective in psychotherapy as unnecessary or 'reductionistic'. Can neuroscience truly help therapists understand patients better, improve the efficacy of treatment, and help provide more relevant referrals when necessary?

This workshop is intended to introduce the field of Neuropsychoanalysis, which attempts to bridge the gap between neuroscience and the clinical practice of psychodynamic psychotherapy. After reviewing the history and the goals of Neuropsychoanalysis, we will review some of the widely used psychoanalytic constructs from the neurobiological perspective. Then, the focus in the workshop will be on clinical vignettes and treatment. Particular attention will be paid to case formulation, with and without integrating affective neuroscience components. Psychodynamic understanding of depressive anxiety in clinical practice will be reviewed from the standpoint of relevant neuroaffective systems, which will help fine tune the case formations and evaluate possible treatment choices

This workshop is designed to help you:

  1. Analyze the influence of neuropsychoanalytic approach on the efficacy of hypothetico-deductive method in case formulation and treatment;
  2. Recognize the new ways to expand and enrich psychodynamic case formulation by introducing neuropsychoanalytic components;
  3. Update, revise, and reaffirm several psychoanalytic constructs, particularly those relevant for trauma treatment, from neuropsychoanalytic standpoint


Alexey Tolchinsky, Psy.D., is a private practitioner in Gaithersburg, MD and a psychologist at the Neurology Clinic of Washington. He received his Psy.D. from the Professional Psychology Program at the George Washington University. He is a recipient of APA's Division 29 Donald K. Freedheim Award. His paper on the complex interaction of acute adult PTSD with traumatic childhood experiences was published in Neuropsychoanalysis in 2014. He is a member of MPA and International Neuropsychoanalysis Society