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Neurophysiological changes during narrative therapy conversations

Grant Winners

  • James Hibel, Ph.D.
  • Jaime Tartar, Ph.D.
  • Mercedes Fernandez, Ph.D.
  • Michelle Manley, M.S.


  • Honggang Yang, Ph.D.
  • Don Rosenblum, Ph.D.


Award Winners

Significant progress has been made in the use of biophysiological technologies such as EEG and hormonal markers as applied to human behavior. These techniques have been successfully applied to investigating specific processes in cognition and emotion. There are also a number of recent developments in therapy modalities. A number of these new modalities have been developed within family therapy, and these often are relatively brief and focus on positive experiences. One of these modalities, narrative therapy, has been applied and studied with a range of emotional and behavioral problems, and the model has been widely adopted within family therapy. However there is relatively little hard evidence regarding the effects of this modality. Further, the technologies of the neurophysiologists and the therapist, particularly family therapy, have not been used corroboratively in the past. This proposed study develops methods and techniques to explore the effects of conversations utilizing approaches from narrative family therapy on physiological measures that we expect to correlate with these conversations. It is hypothesized that conversations that focus on bringing forward problem events will be reflected in different neurophysiological patterns and markers from conversations that bring forward personal recollections of success over these problems. We also hypothesize that these markers and patterns will differ from assessments made in a control group which experiences less personal, more neutral conversations. The study also intends to develop and refine techniques that will be used to investigate these processes in greater depth and specificity in the future, as well as providing some of the technology required to resource a lab for the purpose of these further investigations.

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