Intensifying the preferred self: Neurobiology, mindfulness and embodiment practices that make a difference — Marie-Nathalie Beaudoin


Neurobiology and mindfulness offer fascinating ideas for therapeutic conversations informed by narrative therapy. This article introduces two re-authoring practices that intensify the preferred self and enhance clients’ abilities to live according to their values in spite of traumatic experiences. The application of these ideas is described with the story of a young mother who, for over a year, fought for the survival of her newborn baby crippled by a life-threatening disease and who, when the infant recovered, fell into the grips of a debilitating depression (‘Critical Voice’). This depressive state lasted two years before narrative therapy was initiated. Given the neuroplasticity of our brains, how can we increase the likelihood that re-authoring conversations will be intense enough to neutralise the influence of fight or flight brain states, and gripping depressive neural networks, which have been strengthened for years? This article describes two neurobiology inspired ways to help our clients intensify the preferred self typically explored in narrative therapy: embodiment and positive affect development. Enriching narrative work with these practices increases the likelihood that we will succeed in a timely and enduring manner, in assisting people who have been suffering from long lasting, intense, viscerally embodied emotional problems and traumas.