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The 5th Annual Expressive Therapies Summit

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Thursday, November 6 • 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Empathy, Neurology, and the Creative Brain

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Like all competent psychotherapists, expressive arts therapists are likely aware of the importance of empathy in daily life and effective psychotherapy. And like helping professionals of all persuasions, they must be alert to signs of physical pain—in addition to psychological distress—in their clients. A significant distinction of expressive therapists is their unique sensitivity to creative capacity in their clients, and the overall importance of creativity in wellness, resilience, and healing.

In addition to reviewing the neurological basis of creativity and empathy, we will explore biological factors that can complicate these functions, both for clients and their therapists. For instance, physical illnesses can have specific effects on brain areas that control empathy and creativity.  New scientific findings shed light on the connection between depression and empathy, and the complicated relation between emotional tone and artistic performance.

Common medical treatments, too, can have side effects that alter artistic drive or empathic skill: One commonly used migraine medicine suppresses brain areas needed for artistic emotion. Some medications for Parkinson’s disease can drive compulsive painting or musical composition.  Even low carbohydrate diets have effects that protect the brain in some groups of people but may impair motivation and decision-making in others.

This talk will highlight the relationship between disease and creativity, pain and empathy. The material covered will not only pertain to your patients’ wellbeing and productivity, but also have implications for your own.

Faculty
AF

Alice Flaherty, MD, PhD

Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Alice Flaherty is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on brain systems that control human drives, whether to walk, talk, or create. Alice is the author of The Midnight Disease and The MGH Handbook of Neurology, and the children's picture book, The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster. Each has received national awards and two have been dramatized. Known as an advocate for the abilities of the... Read More →


Thursday November 6, 2014 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Lang Center: The New School Arnhold Hall, 55 W. 13th Street, NY, NY 10011