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  • Chris Molnar, PhD - Mindfulness Training for the Extreme States of Mind and Body that Drive Reactive Behaviors

Chris Molnar, PhD - Mindfulness Training for the Extreme States of Mind and Body that Drive Reactive Behaviors

  • 05/26/2017
  • 8:30 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Grey Towers Castle Mirror Room, Arcadia University, 450 S. Easton Rd, Glenside, PA 19038
  • 0


  • Includes 4 CEs
  • Includes 4 CEs

Registration is closed

Extreme emotional states can occur trans-diagnostically and interfere with responsiveness to traditional mindfulness training that lacks adaptations. Elements of extreme emotion states, when deconstructed, can also serve as cues for novel and adaptive responding. With spaced and repeated practice, such healthy responses can be evoked even under extreme states of emotion. This is a bottom-up process involving activity in primitive brain regions whose function does not degrade under conditions of extreme stress physiology that interferes with top-down processing. Extreme emotion elements that manifest in the mind (cognition), body (central and peripheral physiology), and behavior (overt and covert) provide the focus for the training modules of an adapted mindfulness training program, the META program. This is a modular curriculum for teaching highly distressed people to transform threat into challenge states and ultimately new habits of mind, body, and behavior. Influenced by the many disciplines in which Dr. Molnar has experience, this mindfulness training curriculum teaches people to use elements of extreme maladaptive emotional states to cue adaptive overt and covert mindful behavioral responses. The META program trains people to change how they habitually relate with internal unwanted experience through training in interpersonal mindfulness. This adaptive way of relating with experience is grounded in findings about learned attachment-based social behavior (Benjamin, in press), wholesome states referred to as the “Brahma Viharas” in Buddhist Psychology, and a transformational relational practice of mindfulness called Insight Dialogue developed by Gregory Kramer, Ph.D. This focus on covert relational behavior reflects an important addition to traditional training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) that addresses an important need of the highly anxious whose attachment conditioning can sometimes result in non-responsiveness to traditional CBT interventions.

This workshop will introduce attendees to a modular mindfulness intervention, the META program, designed for people with severe anxiety-, stress-, obsessive-compulsive, and related DSM-5 disorders. This “low dose” mindfulness training program can be offered in an individual or a group format. It was adapted from the traditional Mindfulness-Based- Stress Reduction (MBSR) and -Cognitive Therapy protocols (MBCT) protocols. The META program is grounded in theory and findings from traditional and more recent developments in CBT including Michelle Newman, Ph.D. et al’s Interpersonal Emotional Processing (IEP) interventions and Contrast Avoidance Theory; cognitive and functional neuroscience; emotion and motivation; and other areas of inquiry. The four modules of the META program will be summarized. Several brief case examples will be used to illustrate common ways that each specific module can be applied as part of a treatment plan applicable transdiagnostically. Case examples will illustrate how various modular components can be used to support adaptive emotion regulation in people diagnosed with Panic, Agoraphobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Anxiety and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As well, attendees will be guided in some of the short and guided practices and experiential exercises that train people to develop awareness and application of effective inter- and intra-personal relational habits. Attendees will be introduced to the three questions, summarized by the acronym “WHO” that supports the deconstruction of extreme emotional states, the cueing of adaptive responding, and has potential to enhance executive functioning.

Registrants will be guided in brief contrast practices of the mindful and mindless eating of a snack that will be provided along with continental breakfast. All attendees will receive many resources including short handouts for patients, resources for learning more about how to acquire and refine skills for teaching mindfulness and integrating a personal mindfulness practice into the care of both clients and self. Attendees will receive a suggested reading list in support of the evidence base behind the META program. Finally, active PBTA members who are interested in experiencing the full program as a participant this spring will receive a benefit of $150.00 off of the modular training program offered by Dr. Molnar.

CE Learning Objectives

Following this presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe four common ways that components of extreme emotions in mind, body, and behavior can interfere with responsiveness to mindfulness training. Describe how mental, physiological, and behavioral elements of extreme emotion can be transformed, with practice, into adaptive mindful responding even during extreme states of emotion using the adapted META training program for teaching mindfulness
  2. Practice brief exercises, including brief guided meditations and experiential demonstrations, that support the deconstruction of extreme emotional states into the four objects of awareness that are the focus of the modules of the META program adaptation of MBSR and MBCT
  3. Describe four ways that the META program curriculum elements support people in cueing adaptive intra-personal relating marked by friendliness, compassion, and freedom vs maladaptive habits of critical and hostile control that only increase stress physiology
  4. Describe the “WHO do I want to be now?” tool from the META program and how it is used to support people in knowing: (A) “WHAT” of 4 objects is getting attention during extreme emotion states; (B) “HOW” one is relating with the objects that comprise extreme emotion; (C) “OUTCOME”: What is outcome of these covert behaviors
About the Presenter

Chris Molnar, Ph.D., obtained her Ph.D. degree in Clinical Psychology and Psychophysiology from The Pennsylvania State University. Her post-doctoral fellowship training was in traumatic stress, brain imaging and stimulation at the Medical University of South Carolina. After this she trained at the International Center for Mindfulness (CFM) to teach Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). She has adapted the CFM’s MBSR program to teach highly distressed and stressed people mindfulness, emotion management, and relationship enhancement. She is President of the Mindful Exposure Therapy for Anxiety and Psychological Wellness Center, Inc. (META Center: At META Center, she integrates Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) with other forms of psychotherapy. Her work is guided by ongoing developments in functional and cognitive neuroscience, emotion and motivation, and other areas of inquiry into how humans learn optimally to maintain and apply healthy habits during states of threat and challenge. Before founding META Center in 2007, Dr. Molnar worked as a clinical investigator supported by grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and other funding agencies. For a full list of her scientific contributions, popular press articles, and select professional presentations visit Here you will find Dr. Molnar’s full credentials under the Resources tab.

Target Audience

This presentation is intended for mental health professionals, researchers, and graduate students. The instructional level of this presentation is intermediate and formal training in teaching mindfulness is not required of attendees.

Continuing Education

Philadelphia Behavior Therapy Association is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Philadelphia Behavior Therapy Association maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

This program provides four (4) hours of CE credits. PBTA is also an authorized provider for CE credits for Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Clinical Social Workers licensed in the state of Pennsylvania.

Full attendance is required to obtain CE credits for this program. APA guidelines do not permit PBTA to issue partial CE credits. No refunds are provided for CE programs. No exceptions allowed.

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