Clinical Social Work Journal

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 1–9 | Cite as

Neuroscience and Therapist Self-Disclosure: Deepening Right Brain to Right Brain Communication Between Therapist and Patient

  • Trip Quillman
Original Paper


Schore and others have written extensively about the importance of unconscious implicit right brain to right brain communication in (1) driving therapeutic change and (2) understanding and working with the patient’s autonomic nervous system (ANS). Porges, who has re-conceptualized the ANS as a system arranged hierarchically rather than organized around balance, has been extremely influential on clinicians interested in neuroscience. Schore’s and Porges’ theories are discussed in order to make the case that therapist self-disclosure is a powerful and useful technique entirely consistent with their work.


Therapist self-disclosure Right-brain communication Social engagement system Embodiment Implicit communication Allan Schore Stephen Porges 


  1. Alvarez, A. (2006). Some questions concerning states of fragmentation: unintegration, under-integration, disintegration, and the nature of early integrations. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 32, 158–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carter, R. (1999). Mapping the mind. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  3. Eliot, T. S. “Burnt Norton.” (1971). Four quartets (pp. 13–20). New York: Harcourt Brace (Original work published 1943).Google Scholar
  4. Fosha, D. (2009). Emotion and recognition at work: Energy, vitality, truth, desire & the emergent phenomenology of transformational experience. In D. Fosha, D. Siegel, & M. Solomon (Eds.), The healing power of emotion: Affective neuroscience, development, and clinical practice (pp. 172–203). New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  5. Geller, J. D. (2003). Self-disclosure in psychoanalytic-existential therapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 59(5), 541–554.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hug, E., & Lohne, P. (2009). A case study of the treatment of a patient with psychosis and drug dependence: Towards an integration of psychoanalytic and neuroscience perspectives. Psychosis, 1(1), 82–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kalsched, D. (1996). The inner world of trauma. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Levine, P. (1997). Waking the tiger: Healing trauma. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.Google Scholar
  9. Maroda, K. J. (1998). Seduction, surrender and transformation: emotional engagement in the analytic process. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press.Google Scholar
  10. McGilchrist, I. (2009). The master and his emissary: The divided brain and the making of the western world. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  11. McKenna, T. (1992). The Camden Centre Talk, June 15. Accessed 1 June 2010.
  12. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962). The phenomenology of perception (C. Smith, Trans.). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  13. Ogden, P., Minton, K., & Pain, C. (2006). Trauma and the body: A sensorimotor approach to psychotherapy. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  14. Panksepp, J. (2009). Brain emotional systems and qualities of mental life: From animal models of affect to implications for psychotherapeutics. In D. Fosha, D. Siegel, & M. Solomon (Eds.), The healing power of emotion: Affective neuroscience, development & clinical practice. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  15. Porges, S. W. (2001). The polyvagal theory: Phylogenetic substrates of a social nervous system. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 42, 29–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Porges, S. W. (2009). Reciprocal influences between body and brain in the perception and expression of affect. In D. Fosha, D. J. Siegel, & M. F. Solomon (Eds.), The healing power of emotion: Affective neuroscience, development & clinical practice (pp. 27–54). New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  17. Ryan, R. (2007). Motivation and emotion: A new look and approach for two emerging fields. Motivation and Emotion, 31, 1–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Salinger, J. D. (1991). Franny and Zooey. Boston: Little, Brown. (Original work published 1996).Google Scholar
  19. Schore, A. N. (1994). Affect regulation and the origins of the self: The neurobiology of emotional development. Malwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  20. Schore, A. N. (2003a). Affect regulation and disorders of the self. Norton: New York.Google Scholar
  21. Schore, A. N. (2003b). Affect regulation and the repair of the self. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  22. Schore, A. N. (2007). Psychoanalytic research: Progress and process. Psychologist-Psychoanalyst, 27, 6–14.Google Scholar
  23. Schore, A. N. (2009). Right-brain affect regulation: an essential mechanism of development, traum, dissociation, and psychotherapy. In D. Fosha, D. Siegel, & M. Solomon (Eds.), The healing power of emotion: affective neuroscience, development & clinical practice (pp. 112–144). New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  24. Siegel, J. D. (1999). The developing mind: Toward a neurobiology of interpersonal experience. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  25. Stern, D. N. (1985). The interpersonal world of the infant. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  26. Stern, D. N. (2004). The present moment in psychotherapy and everyday life. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  27. Tronick, E. Z. (1997). Depressed mothers and infants: Failure to form dyadic states of consciousness. In L. Murray & P. J. Cooper (Eds.), Postpartum depression and child development (pp. 54–81). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EverettUSA

Personalised recommendations