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Digital Recording

Taming Your Amygdala: Brain-based Strategies to Quiet the Anxious Mind

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Catherine Pittman Ph.D., PhD, HSPP
1 Hour 31 Minutes
Audio and Video
Dec 01, 2022
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Digital Recording
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In this recorded session, view neuroscience and anxiety expert Catherine Pittman, PhD, as she teaches you effective evidence-based strategies for Panic, Agoraphobia, Social Anxiety, GAD, OCD, and PTSD, including:

  • Relaxation, exercise, exposure, and sleep interventions to calm and retrain your clients’ amygdala
  • Cognitive restructuring techniques to reduce cognitions and anxious responding
  • Methods to reduce cortex-based activation of the amygdala
  • Tools and exercises from her latest workbook for clients, Taming Your Amygdala

Dr. Pittman’s approach is rooted in neuroscience yet explained in ways that are straightforward and accessible. Teaching clients how to understand and retrain their amygdala increases their motivation and engagement because the focus shifts away from decreasing anxiety and towards changing the brain!


Planning Committee Disclosure - No relevant relationships

All members of the PESI, Inc. planning committee have provided disclosures of financial relationships with ineligible organizations and any relevant non-financial relationships prior to planning content for this activity. None of the committee members had relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies or other potentially biasing relationships to disclose to learners.  For speaker disclosures, please see the faculty biography.


This online program is worth 1.75 hours CPD.



  1. Demonstrate the role of the amygdala in maintaining anxiety disorders for purposes of client psychoeducation.
  2. Defend how clients who know the language of the amygdala have improved treatment engagement and mindfulness.
  3. Use neurologically informed strategies such as relaxation, exercise, exposure, and sleep interventions to produce changes in the amygdala.
  4. Use neurologically informed strategies such as cognitive restructuring techniques to reduce cognitions that ignite the amygdala activation that produces anxious responding.


  • Key Knowledge about the Amygdala
    • Help clients understand the experience of stress, anxiety, and panic
    • How the amygdala learns through experience
    • Why vivid experiences in therapy are needed
  • Essential Steps to Using the Amygdala in Therapy
    • Form a strong, empathic therapeutic alliance
    • How does your client experience anxiety?
    • Focus on client’s personal goals
    • Connect amygdala to client concerns and questions
    • Change the amygdala rather than avoid anxiety
    • Acceptance of limits of control using Serenity Prayer
  • Teach Client’s Where Their Anxiety Comes From
    • Amygdala pathway – bottom-up triggering of emotion
    • Cortex pathway – top-down generation of emotion
    • Both pathways require the amygdala for anxiety to be produced
    • Help clients recognize their two pathways
    • How anxiety is initiated in each pathway and how they influence each other
  • Client Friendly Explanations and Examples
    • Fight, Flight, Freeze Response
    • The amygdala as protector
    • The limits of the amygdala
    • How the amygdala learns thru experience
  • Neuroplasticity in the Amygdala (Essential for all Anxiety Disorders, PTSD, OCD, Depression)
    • Interventions that calm the amygdala
    • Effective use of sleep, exercise, relaxation, yoga
    • Exposure interventions that teach the amygdala
  • Through the Eyes of the Amygdala
    • The limits of how the amygdala processes information
    • The amygdala is not logical
    • Amygdala’s misinterpretations
    • Amygdala’s limited response set
    • The language of pairing
    • A better-safe-than sorry approach
  • Changing Client’s Relationship to the Amygdala
    • Don’t trust the amygdala
    • A mindful approach to the amygdala
    • Mindfulness training for discomfort
  • Relating Client Goals to the Amygdala
    • Amygdala’s misinterpretations
    • Amygdala’s blocking of goals
    • Amygdala’s limited response set
  • Relationship of Cortex to the Amygdala
    • How the cortex can misinterpret amygdala activation
    • How the cortex can activate the amygdala
    • Neuroplasticity in the cortex
    • Emphasize how cortex “constructs” reality
    • The amygdala watches cortex television
    • Changing the channel in the cortex

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Physicians
  • Psychologists
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Social Workers
  • Other Mental Health Professionals


Satisfaction Guarantee
Your satisfaction is our goal and our guarantee. Concerns should be addressed to or call 01235847393.

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