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Marwa Azab, Ph.D.
5 Hours 54 Minutes
- Audio and Video
Mar 08, 2019
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Marwa Azab, PhD, is a sought-after international public speaker who is invited to speak on a variety of interdisciplinary topics, including five TEDx talks. Her book on anxiety, fear and panic will be published by Springer Nature (Dec. 2021). Dr. Azab's blog for Psychology Today, "Neuroscience in Everyday Life" has been viewed over one million times and hosts the popular weekly show on Clubhouse called "Inside the Anxious Mind". She has facilitated many groups such as anger management, stress management, interpersonal communication and many others for patients suffering from a variety of mental disorders.
Dr. Azab teaches for the psychology department at Cal State University, Long Beach, (CSULB). She currently teaches the psychopharmacology course for students and has taught for the biology department at University of California, Irvine (UCI). After many years of addressing human behaviors from a psychological perspective, Dr. Azab realized that there were blind spots that needed to be satiated from complementary fields. Thus, she completed a PhD in Biological Sciences with emphasis on Neuroscience from UCI. Marwa started life coaching utilizing an interdisciplinary approach that intersects psychology, biology and genetics.
Financial: Marwa Azab has an employment relationship with Cal State University, Long Beach. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.
Non-financial: Marwa Azab writes a blog for Psychology Today called “Neuroscience in Everyday Life.”
Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)
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- Ascertain the underlying neurological processes that impact anxious symptoms for clients.
- Develop client engagement in treatment using personalized goals and attending to the therapeutic relationship.
- Evaluate the differences between amygdala-based and cortex-based anxiety symptoms and identify how these symptoms inform treatment interventions.
- Communicate strategies for calming and training the amygdala in order to alleviate symptoms of anxiety.
- Implement methods for teaching clients to retrain the cortex so that anxiety is resisted rather than exacerbated.
- Analyze how psychotropic medication impacts neuroplasticity in the brain; identify related treatment implications.
Use Neuroscience in the Treatment of Anxiety
Enhancing Engagement in Treatment
- Positives: We know more about anxiety-based disorders than any other disorders
- Science gives explanations, evidence, authority, destigmatizes difficulties
- Concerns: It can be difficult to explain, answer questions
- Clients may feel a lack of responsibility
- Oversimplification is inevitable
- Don’t neglect the therapeutic relationship!
- Address the challenges of anxious clients
- Remember that strategies are effortful
- Guide the process using client’s goals
- Maintain motivation
Identify Two Neural Pathways to Anxiety
- Define Neuroplasticity in everyday language
- Therapy is about creating a new self
- ”Rewiring” as an accessible concept for change
- Re-consolidation: the modification of emotional memories
Client Friendly Explanations
- Amygdala – bottom-up triggering of emotion, physicality of anxiety
- Cortex – top-down emotion generation based in cognition
- Explain the two pathways to clients
- How anxiety is initiated in each pathway and how pathways influence each other
Neuroplasticity in the Amygdala (Essential for all Anxiety Disorders, PTSD, OCD, Depression)
- Use illustrations to create concrete understanding
- Fight/flight/freeze responses
- The “language of the amygdala”
- Anxiety and the cortex
- Help clients recognize the two pathways to anxiety
Neuroplasticity in the Cortex (Essential for GAD, SAD, OCD, PTSD, Depression)
- Sleep and the amygdala
- The influence of exercise
- Breathing techniques to reduce activation
- Relaxation, meditation, and yoga to modify responses
- Exposure as opportunities for the amygdala to learn
- Combatting avoidance
- When anxiety indicates that the amygdala can learn new responses
- Push through anxiety to change the amygdala
Neuroplasticity and Medications for Anxiety Disorders, OCD, PTSD, Depression
- ”Survival of the busiest” principle – strengthen or weaken specific circuitry
- The healthy (adaptive) use of worry in the cortex
- ”You can’t erase: You must replace.”
- Recognize and modify the impact of uncertainty
- Training correct uses of distraction
- Left hemisphere techniques – cognitive defusion, coping thoughts, fighting anticipation
- Right hemisphere techniques – imagery, music
- Mindfulness and anxiety resistances
Move Beyond Diagnostic Categories to Focus on Anxiety Pathways
- Medication’s effects in the rewiring process
- The myth of the chemical imbalance
- The danger of sedating the brain with benzodiazepines
- Promoting neuroplasticity with SSRIs, SNRIs
- The effectiveness of CBT and meds
Research, Risks and Limitations
- Anxiety is a component of many diagnoses (depression, substance abuse, etc.)
- Amygdala- and cortex-based techniques help in other disorders
- Targeting brain-based symptoms rather than disorders
- Worry, obsessions, rumination respond to similar cortex-based techniques
- Panic, phobic responses, and compulsions respond to amygdala-based techniques
- Empirical versus clinical and anecdotal evidence
- Clinical considerations for specific clients and settings
- Efficacy of particular interventions may vary
- Social Workers
- Marriage and Family Therapists
- Case Managers
- Addiction Counselors
- Occupational Therapists
- Occupational Therapy Assistants
- Speech-Language Therapists
- Other Mental Health Professionals
Total Reviews: 6