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Hand Made Macrame


What is Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB)?

Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) is a theory and practical working model that describes human development and functioning as products of body, mind, and relationships. Also known as relational neuroscience, IPNB explains how the brain and mind are shaped or developed and how they function based on the interplay of genes in the context of relationships.

In psychotherapy, we can use our knowledge of brain science and IPNB to create healthy boundaries, practice compassion, foster a sense of self-worth, and by being willing to work through the often messy and/or difficult aspects of life.


IPNB as a model is pioneered by Dr. Dan Siegel, professor at the UCLA School of Medicine and Director of the Mindsight Institute. IPNB is heavily centered in attachment theory, as articulated by developmental psychologists John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, and Mary Main. As currently envisioned, IPNB is an interdisciplinary approach that finds similar patterns emerging from various fields
of study, including:


  • Anthropology

  • Biology (developmental, evolution, genetics, zoology)

  • Cognitive Science

  • Computer Science

  • Developmental Psychopathology

  • Linguistics

  • Neuroscience (affective, cognitive, developmental, social)

  • Mathematics

  • Mental Health

  • Physics

  • Psychiatry

  • Psychology (cognitive, developmental, evolutionary, experimental, of
    religion, social, attachment theory, memory)

  • Sociology

  • Systems Theory (chaos and complexity theory)

When looking at human behavior and relationships through the lens of relational neuroscience, we can see how “integration” (linking different aspects of a system) is the essential mechanism of health since it promotes adaptive and flexible ways of being. Integration encourages empathy, insight, intuition, and morality. Additionally, as vitality and creativity are enabled via integration, the outcome is harmony among differentiated systems. In our relational lives, we foster integration and differentiation by creating healthy boundaries, 


In a relationship, integration involves each person receiving respect for his or her unique and differentiated self while at the same time being connected to others in empathic connection. Conversely, the absence of integration leads to chaos, rigidity, or both: disruptors of kindness, resilience, and health. This observation encourages us to re-envision our understanding of traditional mental health diagnoses so that we can work to create a more integrated, welcoming, and healthy world.


In the words of Dr. Siegel:


“This highly integrative field is not a division of one particular area of research but rather is an open and evolving way of knowing that invites all domains of both academic and reflective explorations of reality into a collective conversation about the nature of the mind, the body, the brain, and our relationships with each other and the larger world in which we live. This emerging approach is fundamental to exploring a range of human endeavors, including the fields of mental health, education, parenting, organizational leadership, climate change intervention, religion, and contemplation. Knowing about the way the focus of attention changes the structure and function of the brain throughout the lifespan opens new doors to healing and growth at the individual, family, community, and global levels.”

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