Addiction and the Brain: Understanding the Role of Shame and the Whole-Person Way Out

Recorded: Summer, 2022

1.5 CE Credit Hours

Addiction is a ravaging disease that affects millions of people all over the world – and it is not limited to substance use disorders. Behavioral and psychological addictions are also responsible for much heartache our clients face daily.

This short class introduces viewers to brain-based effects of addiction in general and provides insights into how client behavior may point the way to causal effects. A clear cycle is presented to help clinicians understand the chain of events that perpetuate addiction and a framework for addressing psychological effects is proposed, explained, and modeled by case study.

Substance use disorder therapists will gain perspective from this view and those who do not regularly treat addiction, or who see those with non-substance-use addictions in their practice, will have a new foundation on which to build effective treatment of this important issue.


  1. Explain psychological addiction in the brain with regard to input from the limbic system, pre-frontal cortex, and the role of dopamine release
  2. List types of addictions and their potential correlations to preferred emotional states in the client as a means of better understanding causal effects in addiction
  3. Analyze key psychological and neurophysiological points in the cycle of addiction, including the role of non-conscious processes in perpetuating addictive behaviors
  4. Organize understanding of these key points into a framework that improves client awareness and agency and guides clinician in helping with recovery work

1.5 CE Credit Hours

Presenter: Hannah Smith

Hannah is a Licensed Mental Health Therapist and Certified Group Psychotherapist with nearly 20 years of experience and Master’s degrees in Special Education and Counseling Psychology. In addition, she holds various specialty certifications, including Certified Group Psychotherapist, and is a State-approved Therapy Supervisor. She has done extensive study and work in neuroscience-informed treatment of Anxiety and Trauma and she worked as a family therapist for many years. Her work experience, in both in the US and abroad, has given her a unique perspective and relatability. She has an engaging communication style and can convey difficult information in a compassionate and understandable manner.