Photo ID: A close up image of a neuron with two brains facing each other at the bottom and text overlay

What is Our Fascination with Anything Vaguely Neuroscience?

Curt and Katie chat about our profession’s fascination with neuroscience. We explore the myths about the brain, why therapists lean on neuroscience (even when they really shouldn’t), and how “neuro” is misused and can actually be harmful to our clients.


Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.

In this podcast episode we talk about neuroscience

Curt has started to get frustrated with all of the ways that neuroscience is misused. Curt is frustrated with the ongoing use of “neuro” information that may be myth.

What are the most common neuromyths?

  • Humans only use 10% of our brains
  • Left/Right Brain preference
  • Learning style (i.e., auditory, visual, or kinetic learners)
  • If you don’t drink enough water, your brain will shrink

Why do therapists often privilege “neuroscience” over everything else?

“If it sounds good, and it has neuroscience in it, whether or not it’s true, we actually tend to believe it.” – Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Photo ID: An image of a brain scan with parts of the brain highlighted in red

  • The fascination with brain scans
  • The belief that explanations including neuroscience are more effective (even if they are not)
  • Interest in data and the scientific explanations

The Misuse of “Neuro” to increase the credibility of other concepts

“If we say things, and we add neuroscience to them, it makes us feel like we’re actively doing something with this information, or that there’s some sort of scientific backing-up to the things that make us feel good. Whether or not there’s any evidence to it.” – Curt Widhalm, LMFT

  • The “neuroscience” of the power of attraction
  • Overusing neuroscience explanations for interventions that don’t help
  • The potential for clients to feel incompetent due to trying to access parts of the brain versus understanding the interventions in a basic and complete manner

Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Article: The Seductive Allure of Neuroscience Explanations by Deena Skolnick Weisberg, Frank C. Keil, Joshua Goodstein, Elizabeth Rawson, and Jeremy R. Gray

Article: Dispelling the Myth: Training in Education or Neuroscience Decreases but Does Not Eliminate Beliefs in Neuromyths by Kelly Macdonald, Laura Germine, Alida Anderson, Joanna Christodoulou and Lauren M. McGrath

Article: Brain Images Make Cognitive Research More Believable

Article: Neuroscience and education: myths and messages

Article: Brain images make the article seem more reliable

The manifested article that has not been vetted for scientific accuracy, but I can’t believe I found it: The Neuroscience of The Secret


Our Linktree:


Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

It’s NOT a Chemical Imbalance: An interview with Dr. Kristen Syme

Times we’ve actually had conversations about neuroscience on the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide:

The Neuroscience of Stress: A LIVE interview with Dr. Celisa Flores, PsyD

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health: An interview with Dr. Barbara Stroud

Managing Chronic Pain and Illness: An interview with Daniela Paolone, LMFT


Who we are:

Picture of Curt Widhalm, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcast; a nice young man with a glorious beard.Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Picture of Katie Vernoy, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcastKatie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:


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Consultation services with Curt Widhalm or Katie Vernoy:

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Connect with the Modern Therapist Community:

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Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):

Transcripts do not include advertisements just a reference to the advertising break (as such timing does not account for advertisements).

… 0:00
(Opening Advertisement)

Announcer 0:00
You’re listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe, and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm, and Katie Vernoy.

Curt Widhalm 0:15
Welcome back modern therapists, this is the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm, Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast for therapists about the things that are going on in our field, the ways that we interact with clients, the things that help us and the very bright and yet vague future of the ways that research and research flavored things and upcoming into help us in the ways that we utilize them.

Katie Vernoy 0:39
Research flavored?

Curt Widhalm 0:41
Well, as we dive into this, we’re going to get into how in 1989, President George Bush, the elder, declared the 1990s as the decade of the brain. And this launched a multibillion dollar initiative, to start to really understand the way that the brain was going to be made. And ever since then, the National Institute of Health in the United States, equivalent agencies across the world spend 10s of billions of dollars each year to better figure out how our brains work. And the reason that we’re talking about this here in this episode is, as more and more research gets published, as things come out of this research, therapist starts to use terms like neuroscience, and we use explanations of things in neuroscientific sorts of ways. And this is ultimately proven out to be a load of garbage.

Katie Vernoy 1:40
A load of garbage?

Curt Widhalm 1:41
A load of garbage.

Katie Vernoy 1:46

Curt Widhalm 1:46
Because subsequently…

Katie Vernoy 1:49
{uninteligable] Curt @

Curt Widhalm 1:55
Yes, title all of your emails in response to this episode to me, Curt @ I will read and open and respond to every email that is titled ‘In defense of vaguely neuroscientific things’. But each decade since the 1990s, has been declared some variation of the decade of the brain or the decade of neuroscience, and at this point being 33 years into it, $330 billion worth of research into the United States, billions of dollars elsewhere in the world. Are we actually doing anything with this research that affects most of us as therapists?

Katie Vernoy 2:40
I have no idea. It seems like we should.

Curt Widhalm 2:44
It seems like we should. And we’re gonna get to why we continue to do this stuff kind of throughout this episode. But we’re going to talk about a couple of research studies that have happened over the last decade or so that really lay into the crux of is this actually useful research for mental health. Now, we’ve had past guests on the podcast here past Therapy Reimagined speakers, Kristen Syme, for example, talking about things like we have a lot of contributions into things like depression, that aren’t necessarily things like neurotransmitters, that were a lot more complex creatures than being able to take a picture of the brain and be able to be like, yep, that’s your depression spot, we just push on that one, and the right way will massage the depression right out of you. And then people will feel better. And despite people like Dr. Syme being really wonderful, and calling out some of the crap in the fields that we tend to still by lock stock, and two smoking barrels into a number of what the research calls neuro myths. And these are things that we tend to believe and just kind of pass on as things that explain why we do things, whether or not they’re actually real. So, you know, one of the really common ones. There’s been movies made about this over, you know, decades is like, you know, humans only use 10% of their brains. And hopefully, most of our audience already knows that that one’s a steaming pile of garbage and but there is plenty of continued cultural, just kind of understanding that these myths are actually true. I’m looking at an article from Howard Jones, this came out in 2014 and was a cross cultural study of the prevalence of neuro myths amongst practicing teachers. And this neuro myth alone, nearly half of the teachers in five different, very different cultural areas all believes this one to be true. So, recognize that this is not just mental health practitioners here, but this does speak to, you know, if people from China, Greece, the Netherlands, and the UK, are all believing this at about 50%, it stands to reason that there’s some pervasiveness in the cultural aspects of this. Now, Katie, as I’m talking about this, what are some of the neuro myths that you might be hearing within our field and things that we might be passing along?

Katie Vernoy 5:26
I think there’s a lot of things that seem to be related to how we use the brain. And so there’s like left brain, right brain, introverts and extroverts use their brains differently. Learning style, like you have to teach people in the way that they will best receive it, that their brains work in a certain way. And I don’t know if those are myths or truths, but I hear a lot about our brains works in specific ways and in predictable ways, based on whether it’s diagnosis or personality factors, or whatever. And we need to adjust to them.

Curt Widhalm 6:09
And everything that you are describing here are amongst the things listed in this same article, and the prevalence of these things, ranges, anything from like 90%, of teachers believing this kind of stuff. And we just kind of take this, like, if everybody’s talking about it, then it must be true. I know for myself, you know, I’ve shared some of these things in the past, like, Oh, if you tend to learn better by moving around, I mean, you’ve sat next to me at enough conferences and workshops that I don’t sit still, and I don’t really pay attention when I’m sitting still. But I also don’t pay attention very well, when I’m in motion, either.

Katie Vernoy 6:50

Curt Widhalm 6:53
And so into the research of learning styles, a lot of this stuff has been debunked, but it’s so culturally present that we just kind of continue to echo what’s already being said. And some of the other things that are listed in this article is that drinking six to eight glasses of water a day or failure to do so can cause people’s brains to shrink, and 29% of the teachers in the United Kingdom agreed with this, 25% in Turkey. So these are things that are not necessarily present in all cultures, China on the same one, only 5% of teachers believe this. So there is some evidence of cultural variations in this, which could make us more prone to just believing those who are around us and using this even in sessions of like, yeah, if everybody’s saying it around us, then it’s probably true for you as well.

Katie Vernoy 7:45
Well, I think about the, the TikTok or Instagram therapists or even just health and wellness influencers that put a lot of this stuff out as fact. And then also, the stuff that kind of feels true.

Curt Widhalm 8:01
Oh, yes.

Katie Vernoy 8:02
So you know, is that confirmatory bias? Is that something where you’re, you’re believing something and so you’re making it happen? I mean, is it that there’s no evidence? Or is it that the evidence is the reverse?

Curt Widhalm 8:17
Some combination of all of the above.

Katie Vernoy 8:20

… 8:21
(Advertisement Break)

Curt Widhalm 8:22
I’m going to talk about two articles from 2008 that kind of laid out where some of these problems are.

Katie Vernoy 8:30

Curt Widhalm 8:30
The first is a 2008 article by McCabe and Castel. In their study, they presented study participants with articles summarizing results of fictitious research in the field, and asked people to answer questions of how much they agreed with the following statements. Like the article was well written, the title was a good description, things like that. Now, in a control groups, this is just kind of a normal article. In the experimental groups, they included various levels of things like brain images, or they included things like you know, graphs that showed in a bar graphs and this kind of stuff. The content of the written part of the articles was exactly the same in all of them. But people rated the articles that were all completely fictitious and made up. They rated the articles with images of brains as being more believable and more authoritative than those that had bar graphs or those that had no graphics whatsoever. So just the image of posting a brain or an MRI scan of something makes an article more believable. Whether or not the supporting evidence goes along with it or not. And it’s what you’re looking for. You know what our art is for this episode. That’s why we are going to have a brain image.

Katie Vernoy 9:56
All right, I’ll keep that in mind.

Curt Widhalm 9:57
And you know, if you’re gonna use this kind have information mischievously just start throwing MRI scans into any talk that you do, whether or not it has anything to do with the brain or not. You know, oh, I’m coming in for, you know, tendinitis in my ankle. Well, you see, here’s an MRI of the brain. And here’s what over here. This is basically what this article says. It’s like just having an image of a brain there, makes it feel more authoritative.

Katie Vernoy 10:26
So the more credibility comes with a picture of the brain.

Curt Widhalm 10:30
Yes, we have spent billions of dollars knowing that the brain does magic. And let’s put a picture of it there. And that makes it more believable.

Katie Vernoy 10:39
All right. All right.

Curt Widhalm 10:42
Another 2008 study, this was done by Weisberg et all, they gave participants, four different versions of texts on various psychological phenomena and the explanations of these phenomena. And so there was pictured, you know, a box, we can post a graphic of this in our show notes over at But in their four different boxes, they have good explanations of a psychological phenomenon without neuroscience. A good explanation of the same phenomena with some neuroscience stuff in there. A bad explanation of the phenomena without neuroscience and a bad explanation with neuroscience. And so…

Katie Vernoy 11:26
Is there an example of that? Because I’m trying to understand what that actually means.

Curt Widhalm 11:30
So what they used is a good explanation without neuroscience. The researchers claimed that this quote unquote, curse happens because subjects have trouble switching their point of view to consider what someone else might know, mistakenly projecting their own knowledge onto others. That is a good explanation without neuroscience.

Katie Vernoy 11:50
So a good explanation of not being able to see from somebody else’s perspective.

Curt Widhalm 11:54
Correct. Now, a good explanation with neuroscience. Brain scans indicate that this quote unquote curse happens because of the frontal lobe brain circuitry known to be involved in self knowledge, subjects have trouble switching their point of view to consider what someone else might know, mistakenly projecting their own knowledge onto others.

Katie Vernoy 12:15

Curt Widhalm 12:16
So the difference is words like brain scan, frontal lobe brain circuitry, self knowledge.

Katie Vernoy 12:22
Got it. And that’s good because it’s accurate.

Curt Widhalm 12:27
Yes, it describes what’s happening and it adds with neuroscience. Now, a bad explanation without neuroscience. Researchers claimed that this quote unquote, curse happens because subjects make more mistakes when they have to judge the knowledge of others. People are much better at judging what they themselves know. Okay, at a bad explanation with neuroscience, brain scans indicate that this quote unquote curse happens because of the frontal lobe brain circuitry known to be involved in self self knowledge. Subjects make more mistakes when they have to judge the knowledge of others. People are much better at judging what they themselves know.

Katie Vernoy 13:01

Curt Widhalm 13:02
So now we’re getting into, all right, we’ve got some explanations, some with neuroscience knowledge, some with good explanation, some with bad. We have four comparison groups here.

Katie Vernoy 13:14
Got it.

Curt Widhalm 13:15
Now what they did is they presented these four types of explanations to three distinct groups of people. One is a group of people who are novice or have no knowledge of neuroscience sort of stuff. And they ask them to rate these four different things. And what the novice group did is they recognized that the good explanations both with and without neuroscience tended to be more positive and the bad explanations without neuroscience were really negative. And the bad explanations with neuroscience were slightly positive, as far as believability.

Katie Vernoy 13:54

Curt Widhalm 13:56
Group two is neuroscience students, people who are studying or have some background with some neuroscience. Group three was experts in neuroscience. So, this is where I’m gonna say most of mental health practitioners have some knowledge and an interest in neuroscience just by virtue of being in our field and having people talk about neuroscience. So

Katie Vernoy 14:24
The middle group.

Curt Widhalm 14:25
The middle group.

Katie Vernoy 14:26
[uninteligable] the middle group, okay.

Curt Widhalm 14:27
Yes. So, the middle group, good explanations without neuroscience had basically no effect. It was rated as completely neutral. Bad explanations without neuroscience we’re pretty good at recognizing those. There’s a really…

Katie Vernoy 14:47
So they were seen as negative.

Curt Widhalm 14:48
They were seen as very negative. Good explanations with neuroscience, slightly more positive, but bad explanations with neuroscience. We were, we believe them more than people with no neuroscience background whatsoever.

Katie Vernoy 15:09
So because there was neuroscience in there, we were like, sure that sounds great.

Curt Widhalm 15:16
If it sounds good, and it has neuroscience in it, whether or not it’s true, we actually tend to believe it if it’s got neuroscience language in it, and it sounds like crap.

Katie Vernoy 15:30
It sounds more sciency.

Curt Widhalm 15:31

Katie Vernoy 15:33
Sounds more expert-y.

Curt Widhalm 15:35
And this, okay, so comparing this to the experts, they rate it most highly and most believable, and bout halfway between novice and students were that middle group, but they rated the best way of describing things as the good explanations without neuroscience. The bad explanations without neuroscience they rated horribly. But the good explanations with neuroscience, the experts also rated as having a negative effect. And the bad explanations with neuroscience, they also rated quite horribly, but not as badly as the bad explanations without neuroscience. So in the follow up of this, what the conclusion was, is that even the experts are saying that adding in neuro scientific terms doesn’t actually help us to make any sort of change with the language that’s being in there. We’re better off being more succinct, and not adding in a bunch of neuroscience mumbo jumbo than we are to just telling people like, Okay, if this is a thing about perspective taking, let’s talk about perspective taking, without putting in, they’re like, Oh, here’s frontal lobe deficits that cause some people to have more challenges with this. The end of the day, if the intervention is take a different perspective on this, we’re better off according to the neuroscience experts of just telling people, let’s work on taking a different perspective on this.

Katie Vernoy 15:35
Got it. Is there in the discussion, any ideas why this why the group that we would likely fit in are more likely to rate neuroscience more highly?

Curt Widhalm 17:20
You have already given that answer in this episode. And it is, because it feels good. There is…

Katie Vernoy 17:29
So, there’s like we’re fans of neuroscience, we think that sounds sciency, it feels good. So we’re going to add…

Curt Widhalm 17:36
Well, and think of especially those of us who are very well educated and possibly even over educated in that, we tend to like data, we tend to like things that sounds good. We tend to like coming out of a few minutes of information with, you know what, that adds something to my little electric oatmeal up inside my skull, and I can just, you know, have this knowledge and I can carry this with me and I might be able to apply this someday. It feels good.

Katie Vernoy 18:08
Well, I can also see it being the flack we get as therapists or folks that study psychology is that it’s a soft science. And there’s some disparagement of what we do. And so when you add scientific terms and talk about the brain, like you know what it actually does; I think it it moves us more fully into that role of quote unquote expert versus somebody that’s just telling you stuff that, yeah, probably people can usually figure out.

Curt Widhalm 18:39
Yeah, it makes us appeal to authority or make other people when we’re talking about things see us as part of having authority, just by using terms that other people may or may not understand.

Katie Vernoy 18:54
Sure. I wonder if it would be interesting. And maybe there’s a study that’s already done, but I’m gonna I’m gonna put this out into the world for all those imposter syndrome folks like is does the amount of imposter syndrome correlate to the number of neuroscience terms that you use?

Curt Widhalm 19:10
You know, and there’s probably brain structures involved somewhere in the limbic system that would show some sort of correlation with that.

Katie Vernoy 19:18

Curt Widhalm 19:20
But even speaking of that, of how many trauma courses do we hear talking about things like this part of the brain lights up? That is such a pet peeve of mine.

Katie Vernoy 19:31
The brain lights up in the brain scan.

Curt Widhalm 19:34
The brain scans show activity. We use the brain scans to show different levels of activity by showing them lighter or darker. There’s not like paparazzi going off in neurons in your brain that actually make your brain light up.

… 19:47
(Advertisement Break)

Katie Vernoy 19:50
So but, but when we’re talking about this, I mean, some of the, like, I’m not, I’m not, I’ve not been trained in EMDR. I’ve not been trained in brain spotting, but some of the things that I hear, there’s a lot of neuroscience explanations that I hear within both of those descriptions that this is how your brain works. This is, you know, this is why your eyes need to move, like there is a lot of stuff going on there. So, we’re not saying that neuroscience is inaccurate, we’re saying that we’re overusing it, or are we saying that neuroscience is a bunch of a bull bull pucky.

Curt Widhalm 20:23
I was really going into the research of this episode, trying to be like, you know, what, we’re, we’re wasting a bunch of money and time by trying to embrace neuroscience of everything. And I was really trying to go into this with a very critical neuroscience seems to be something that works for neuroscientists, but the applications to mental health are very limited. Now, I was, I will admit that I have seen a lot of positive things that I had not considered. The aforementioned , you know, transcranial magnetic treatments for depression come out of neuroscience. It’s be it’s a better version, and different function for all of you, people are gonna argue the neuroscience on me. But it’s a better version of being able to treat medication resistant depression than something like ECT electro convulsive therapies, because it can be focused more specifically, in better ways.

Katie Vernoy 21:25
So we can actually push the button in the brain for depression.

Curt Widhalm 21:29
We can push the world’s worst woodpecker into people’s brains.

Katie Vernoy 21:33
For the TMS is expression like that the research is actually there. And there, this is neuroscience that works is what you’re saying?

Curt Widhalm 21:41
Exactly. Yeah.

Katie Vernoy 21:42
Got it. Got it.

Curt Widhalm 21:44
So there is plenty of good stuff that’s coming out of this. But at its core, a lot of neuroscience’s objective measures of brain activity or brain structures. And that’s not the subjective experience of feelings or responses to societal pressures or things around us. And so, in the research that I came across, in preparing for this episodes, there’s a lot of good stuff that’s coming out of this, this isn’t a neuroscience bad episode. This is more of a we got to stop it with the crap sort of things, because some of the articles that I’ve come across are things like, neuroscience and the laws of attraction.

Katie Vernoy 22:24
Oh, no. Okay, we’re going to talk more about this, tell me tell me about the neuroscience and the laws of attraction. It’s like a bunch of mumbo jumbo to me.

Curt Widhalm 22:34
Well, this all comes back to the point of, if we say things, and we add neuroscience to them, it makes us feel like we’re actively doing something with this information, or that there’s some sort of scientific backing up to the things that make us feel good. Whether or not there’s any evidence to it.

Katie Vernoy 22:53
Okay, so But no, like, I’m literally asking, what is the neuroscience of the laws of attraction? Because that, that really sounds a bit ridiculous.

Curt Widhalm 23:04
It is, I can try and post this. I don’t have the tab pulled up here.

Katie Vernoy 23:09
All right, I won’t put you on the spot.

Curt Widhalm 23:12
But, you know, this is…

Katie Vernoy 23:14
I will try to manifest that article in the show notes over at

Curt Widhalm 23:20

Katie Vernoy 23:21
I’ll use, I’ll use a part of my brain that’s specific to manifesting.

Curt Widhalm 23:24
Yes. And so these are the kinds of examples that we hear all over the place. And while there is some basis in some research, you know, you’re talking about brain spotting and EMDR. Going back to your question on that, that does show differential functioning in fMRI scans of brain activity pre and post treatment, that does show more blood flow between neo cortex and limbic system sorts of responses, pre and post treatment, that does back this up. It actually, if we’re over explaining this to clients can be done in non trauma informed ways. And if we’re looking at these as being, you know, frontline trauma treatments that people are being able to use, talking to a client of like, oh, yeah, when you’re going into this panic attack, or you’re going into this, you know, PTSD sort of episode. And what’s happening is you’re going down into your limbic system, and your, you know, fight or flight response is taking over and this kind of stuff. That’s all vaguely neuroscientific that doesn’t help somebody in the midst of a panic attack, because that is all information that gets processed in the neocortex.

Katie Vernoy 24:40
I hear you and I’m curious if there there is a middle ground between saying let’s not talk about the neuroscience when it’s not helpful and let’s talk about it in a way that’s helpful. Because I have used fight or flight a lot and maybe this is me having the vaguely neuroscience bug here, but but when I talk about it, I talk about trying to identify triggers up to that point when you go into the limbic system, or you go into lizard brain or whatever it is, and being able to try to get back into more of the kind of the logical part of the brain or the language portion of the brain. And so, is that just all BS? Am I am I am I making it? So people just feel like, Oh, yep, went into the limbic system again, after the fact? Or is there actually ways to use some of this knowledge about what’s happening to try to help people to cope, because I think my experience with clients have been that they have been able to try to catch things earlier, because it feels more important to because they don’t want to be stuck in fight or flight or the limbic system or whatever.

Curt Widhalm 25:54
And so, you know, I’m not sitting in the sessions with you. But what I would ask you to consider is, how many times are you working on this kind of stuff with clients, where you tell them this kind of stuff, and they continue to run into the same triggers anyway. And they continue to have panic attacks, or they continue to operate in that fight or flight response? Because that psychoeducation doesn’t end up helping them when they’re actually in the fight or flight response. I’m not saying that it’s all unhelpful stuff. But part of using this kinds of information with your clients is, does it actually have any practice based evidence that it’s working for any of these particular clients?

Katie Vernoy 26:40
I’ll let me respond to that. Because I think there’s, there’s two elements that I think are actually helpful in that. One is, I do see that panic attacks, or those kinds of responses go down. Now, when they have them, I don’t know that it helps them in that moment. But it does seem to help them with proactive coping, when they’re, when they’re recognizing this is something that’s going to happen. I also feel like it is normalizing. And so there’s a lot less self judgment of Oh, okay, after the fact or leading up to it, I’m more susceptible to this. They feel more like they understand what’s going on. Now, I don’t say and this part of the brain and that part of the brain. I studied trauma for kids. So I talked about lizard brain and human brain and you know, all that stuff…

Curt Widhalm 27:22
Being able to relate it to… Yeah, to appropriate cognitive developmental level. Yeah, that all?

Katie Vernoy 27:28
No, I’m talking to adults. I’m just saying I use it like I learned how to describe it to kids. So everybody understands. But I think it does. It does help in some ways. But I think when we’re thinking that we’re addressing one thing, maybe we’re actually addressing something else. Like that, we’re because I think it is helpful to understand the fight or flight response. I mean, would you would you argue that it doesn’t help to understand that?

Curt Widhalm 27:53
hey, you’re painting me into a quarter of like, yeah, of course, I’m gonna agree on this. But that’s not the point of you know, the takeaway of this episode, which is that when we utilize this kind of information, you know, traumas sorts of responses and being able to, you know, study whether EMDR brainspotting work, and there’s gonna be plenty of people on both sides who can have that argument as far as the functions of why and that’s not the point of this episode here. The point of this episode is, think of how much other times that we end up being able to just throw in neuroscience sounding stuff. You know, there is this kind of trauma research and this kind of, you know, backing behind this part of our field. But even when it’s just like, you know, oh, you’re going into managerial mode, and you need to think with a different part of your brain here. Like…

Katie Vernoy 28:50

Curt Widhalm 28:50
You know, can you switch to just kind of your managerial part of your brain? Or is it just taking a different perspective? That this kind of stuff is very prevalent in the way that we end up talking with clients. And it sounds believable, and it sounds good. But a lot of the research just shows that it doesn’t actually end up helping those who are more novice oriented. And the experts are saying, don’t use a lot of extra lengthy, long scientific descriptions for things when you don’t really need to because most people will get what you’re intending by speaking more leanly and direct to the interventions of what you’re doing anyway.

Katie Vernoy 29:36
So, it isn’t that we stop studying neuroscience or that we stop trying to understand things. It’s that we actually think about what what is true? Not what did I hear on social media? That sounds pretty good. But what have I actually studied and it’s not just relevant because it has a picture of a brain scan, you know, so what is the basis here, what is the point of what I’m trying to say? And what’s the most effective way to say that’s going to have a good outcome on the client?

Curt Widhalm 30:06

Katie Vernoy 30:06
Because I think in, in talking about this, I think there’s the, the overuse of kind of the expert scientific language that I think helps therapists feel more confident potentially, or, or feel like they’re, they’re talking about something scientific, but may not be at all helpful to the clients and/or may not be true. I mean, like, I’m thinking about the neuroscience of the power of attraction.

Curt Widhalm 30:38
The neuroscience of Marie Kondo-ing your office. You know, like, it’s almost a Mad Libs of how we just kind of throw these terms in. And we get this from supervisors, we get it from educators that there’s a lot of places where we can point the finger at it. But being able to say, like, you know what, this is all happening in our fields, we need to kind of hold ourselves accountable to this being something that we need to change.

Katie Vernoy 31:09
All right.

Curt Widhalm 31:10
You can find our show notes over at We’ll put our references over there. Follow us on our social media, and continue the discussion in places like our Facebook group, the Modern Therapists Group. And if you like what we’re putting out there. Support us on Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee. And if you disagree with this episode, use a different part of your brain. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm Katie Vernoy.

… 31:36
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