The Science Behind REAC²H

The REAC²H workshops are firmly rooted in scientific research from the fields of attachment theory, contemplative neuroscience (mindfulness), affective neuroscience (emotions), and body-oriented trauma therapy.  What does all that mean?  It means that REAC²H workshops are grounded in hard science, tethered to cutting-edge clinical techniques, and heavily flavored by the timeless teachings and practices of contemplative traditions like mindfulness.

Attachment theory is at the heart of the REAC²H workshops.  After nearly a century of strong research support, this influential theory on the importance of close relationships continues to shape the field of psychology and neuroscience.  There is compelling evidence that early attachment experiences have important effects on later social-emotional functioning and that the attachment system remains active throughout the lifespan.  Dr. Caldwell knows the attachment field well (having published his own research on the matter) and he is able to translate his knowledge into practical information and experiential techniques that are beneficial for emotional and relational healing.

Dr. Caldwell’s research has shown that insecure attachment styles (i.e., attachment-related avoidance and anxiety) are related to unhealthy patterns of expressing and regulating emotions.  He also found that insecure attachment styles and their unhealthy emotional patterns are linked to lower levels of cognitive flexibility, adaptability, resilience and mindfulness.  There is new evidence that mindfulness may actually stimulate parts of the brain that can counteract the unhealthy emotional patterns associated with attachment insecurity.  The emotional changes made possible by mindfulness practices can lead to improvements in close relationships and greater resilience in the face of life’s challenges.  Who doesn’t need that, right?

There is a growing scientific literature on the benefits of mindfulness – which is generally defined as: “Bringing one’s full attention to experience in the present moment, in a nonjudgmental or accepting way.”  Mindfulness-based workshops, like those developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, have been shown to be effective in treating conditions such as chronic pain, immune system dysfunction, stress-related illnesses, eating disorders, substance addiction/relapse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more.

In recent years, researchers like Dr. Caldwell have become interested in using mindfulness practices to alleviate distress related to childhood trauma and attachment-related problems.  Preliminary findings indicate that mindfulness may be an important intervention for healing trauma-related wounds and for helping people to restore a feeling of safety and connection within themselves, which allows for connection with others.  Dr. Caldwell will continue to contribute to this exciting field by researching the effectiveness of the REAC²H workshops – stay tuned for these results!