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Providence Professor to lead neuroscience & psychotherapy Conference
by Isabella Selk
Rodolfo Nolasco Jr., Professor of Counselling Psychology at the Providence Extension Site in Calgary, will be presenting a conference entitled “Gray Matters: Neuroscience and Psychotherapy, A Convergence of Two Worlds” in Winnipeg this month.
Dr. Nolasco is also the author of The Contemplative Counsellor: A Way of Being and is currently working on another book on compassion.
The Professional Association of Christian Counsellors and Psychotherapists (PACCP) is a national not-for-profit organization formed in 2001. It is the only Christian governing body for counsellors in Canada and it is dedicated to “ensuring that every Canadian has access to clinically excellent, professional, compassionate, and trustworthy counselling and psychotherapy services.”
The professional clinicians associated with it are committed to seeking God’s guidance in their work as well as providing both learning and developmental opportunities. It is fitting, then, that the organization is presenting a day-long conference on the merging of neuroscience and psychotherapy.
Neuroscience in psychotherapy is not something Dr. Nolasco is unfamiliar with; he says neuroscience has greatly supplemented his “understanding of the complexity of the human condition,” which has led to “a greater appreciation for the role psychotherapy plays in facilitating human flourishing”.
He believes the emergence of neuroscience in psychotherapy is changing the landscape in “significant ways.” One example he gives is the idea that everything that is said and done in therapy is mediated or supported by how the brain works.
This is where neuroscience comes into play; acquiring a “working knowledge of the brain” allows therapists to better treat their clients. Looking at the neural correlates of depression and considering various ways in which psychotherapy can address and promote neural integration is one of the ways in which Dr. Nolasco believes neuroscience benefits the practice of therapy and counselling, and one of the theories that attendees will work on at the conference.
Dr. Nolasco hopes to work toward re-envisioning psychotherapy as an enriched environment promoting neural integration and transferring knowledge of neuroscience into treatment of depression and anxiety throughout the day. Bridging the theory learned during the conference into actual practice will be an important outcome.
Glenys Wirch, Assistant Professor of Counselling Psychology at Providence, is a member of the national board of PACCP. She is also President of the Manitoba East Executive division of the organization, which provides continuing education credits to members of the PACCP.
The topic of neuroscience and psychotherapy is something Wirch says students in the counselling program become familiar with at a fairly early stage of their degree, so she believes the conference will be helpful to anyone with counselling experience.
Personally, Wirch has found success in applying the topic in areas of her private practice. She considers neuroscience to be an emerging foundation of psychotherapy and counselling in general as it has grown over the last 10 years or so.
Wirch is excited about the interest taken in the conference, as the registration goal has already been exceeded. She looks forward to hearing feedback from attendees on the material presented.
The conference will take place on November 21 from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the Victoria Inn and Convention Centre in Winnipeg.
Registration is $100 per person and $60 per student, which includes the fee for the conference as well as food throughout the day. Registration is open at, and more information can be obtained by emailing
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