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Affect Regulation Theory

A Clinical Model

Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology


Daniel Hill (Author)

With a Foreword by Allan N. Schore

Overview | Contents

The rich, complex theory of affect regulation boiled down into a clinically useful guide.

Affect regulation theory—the science of how humans regulate their emotions—is at the root of all psychotherapies. Drawing on attachment, developmental trauma, implicit processes, and neurobiology, major theorists from Allan Schore to Daniel Stern have argued how and why regulated affect is key to our optimal functioning. This book translates the intricacies of the theory into a cogent clinical synthesis.

With clarity and practicality, Hill decodes the massive body of contemporary research on affect regulation, offering a comprehensible and ready-to-implement model for conducting affect regulation therapy.

The book is organized around the four domains of a clinical model: (1) a theory of bodymind; (2) a theory of optimal development of affect regulation in secure attachment relationships; (3) a theory of pathogenesis, in which disordered affect regulation originates in relational trauma and insecure attachment relationships; and (4) a theory of therapeutic actions targeted to repair the affect regulating systems.

The key themes of Hill’s affect-focused approach include: how and why different patterns of affect regulation develop; how regulatory patterns are transmitted from caretakers to the infants; what adaptive and maladaptive regulatory patterns look like neurobiologically, psychologically, and relationally; how deficits in affect regulation manifest as psychiatric symptoms and personality disorders; and ultimately, the means by which regulatory deficits can be repaired. Specific chapters explore such subjects as self states, mentalization, classical and modern attachment theory, relational trauma (and its manifestations in chronic dissociation, personality disorders, and pervasive dissociated shame), supporting self-development in therapy, patient–therapist attunement, implicit and explicit therapeutic actions, and many more.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • August 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-393-70726-7
  • 5.8 × 8.6 in / 320 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“With Affect Regulation Theory, Daniel Hill makes an invaluable contribution to the growing field of psychotherapy that is reflective of a psychobiological perspective. The book is well written, well researched, and comprehensive. For any therapist seeking to broaden his or her theoretical knowledge base, with the ultimate goal of incorporating that information into clinical practice, I recommend reading this book first and foremost.” — Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, clinician, researcher, teacher, and developer of A Psychobiological Approach To Couples Therapy® (PACT)

“Understanding affect is central to human psychology. From the start, Freud was concerned with the vicissitude of how emotions connected to ideas and to their transformations into symptoms and psychopathology. And yet psychoanalysis has been slow to develop a comprehensive theory of affects. Daniel Hill is a master teacher, and in Affect Regulation Theory he demonstrates how affects and their regulation and dysregulation are central to our sense of agency, authenticity, and interpersonal relations. He grounds his understanding in psychoanalysis, attachment theory, and neurobiology and illuminates the clinical relevance of relational trauma, dissociation, and self-states, thus integrating a comprehensive theory of mind, development, psychopathology, and psychotherapy. This book is essential reading for graduate students and clinicians.” — Lewis Aron, PhD, Director, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis

“Daniel Hill has written a beautiful, user-friendly translation and elaboration of the theories of Allan Schore, Daniel Siegel, and Peter Fonagy. Illustrating with clinical vignettes, Hill integrates affect regulation, early attachment trauma, and theories of neurobiology. This is an excellent book for the working clinician.” — Beatrice Beebe, PhD, Clinical Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, NYS Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University

“Affect regulation theory is the surprising meeting ground of neurobiology, developmental psychology, and psychoanalysis. In this important book, Daniel Hill captures its relevance to each of these realms. His book not only enhances our understanding of the physiological basis of emotions but also illuminates how emotional trauma in childhood emerges from prolonged states of dysregulation. Wonderfully comprehensive and engagingly written, this book will be a book to students. But it will also captivate those of us whose education preceded these exciting cross-disciplinary developments.” — Robert B. Karen, PhD, author of Becoming Attached and The Forgiving Self

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