4 MIN READ | Psychotherapy

Brain-based psychotherapy integration: clinical biopsychology (Part 3)

Robert Moss, Ph.D., ABN, ABPP

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Robert Moss, Ph.D., ABN, ABPP, (2016, September 29). Brain-based psychotherapy integration: clinical biopsychology (Part 3). Psychreg on Psychotherapy. https://www.psychreg.org/brain-based-psychotherapy-integration-clinical-biopsychology-part-3/
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Editor’s note: This article is part of a series. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here

Type-G (Giver) and Type-T (Taker) relationship patterns

I have suggested that there are two different, but basic, patterns by which individuals have learned to activate positive feelings and deactivate negative ones within relationships. These two patterns involve either the giving (Type-G) or taking (Type-T) of power, control, attention, and/or things. At the simplest level, this is consistent with the basic motivational rule and refers to both the sensory emotional memories (i.e., how one feels) and action (i.e., how one behaves) in relationship interactions. Although hereditary/genetic factors (e.g., temperament) play a role in the development of one pattern over another, a major influence involves each person’s own learning history. This learning history involves what was most effective in acquiring positive and avoiding negative consequences with all influential people within an individual’s early social system. Once developed, an individual continues to relate to the current social system in the same basic manner of giving or taking since his/her earlier emotional memories define which of these patterns results in positive or negative internal states.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Emotional memories are stored very early in development and are independent of the verbal-thinking process.[/perfectpullquote]

Type-T individuals experience positive feelings in relationships by taking power, control, attention and/or things and experience negative emotions when having to give at their own expense. Therefore, they give only if something more desirable can be obtained or maintained. For a Type-T desiring attention more than anything else, this same person may be willing to give up direct power and control. In such a case, this person may be very dependent and whiny, often being in the position of engaging in behaviours that would logically appear very maladaptive. In contrast, one who desires power and control more than attention may be willing to let others receive the attention publicly as long as he can “pull the strings”.

Type-G individuals activate positive feelings in relationships by giving power, control, attention and/or things, while experiencing negative feelings if they have to take things at someone else’s expense. They can behaviourally “take in” certain situations, but have to develop specific rules to do so. These rules allow them to define for themselves when it is acceptable to take from others. However, the major positive experience for this type occurs when he/she spontaneously decides to give in a way to someone, feels he/she has done a good job, and the person on the receiving end demonstrates a genuine appreciation for what has been done. The most negative experience is one in which the giver has to accept something from someone he/she has typically done, has no means to repay what was done, and is made to feel guilty due to statements from others.

Given a parallel processing model of the brain in which non-detailed emotional memories are stored in the right cortex and the prime directive of the system is to maximise the positive and minimise the negative emotions being experienced, the development of the described patterns is considered logical. These patterns reflect the motivation for the behaviours seen in each type. The sensory emotional memories are the factors responsible for the way a person is able to have positive and negative emotions stimulated and, thus, are responsible for the motivation to maintain the behaviour (i.e., frontal action memories) patterns.

Emotional memories are stored very early in development and are independent of the verbal-thinking process. As a result, these emotional memories serve to guide the future memories that develop since there will be an attempt to maximise positive and minimise negative emotions. Obviously, the best way to maximise the positive feelings is to stimulate the previously stored positive memories and to avoid the stimulation of the previously stored negative memories. Once an individual stores memories associated with either a pattern of giving or taking to activate positive emotions, it is logical that this pattern will continue and intensify.

In the brain, the columns tied to emotional memories form circuits. Based on these emotional memories, the right and left frontal regions will develop their own circuits of columns that guide the person’s actions, which, in turn, can activate or deactivate the non-detailed emotional memories based on environmental sensory input (e.g., observing another person’s behaviour) to the right posterior hemisphere. Once established, it is likely that the frontal columns controlling behaviour tied to old emotional memories will be the first employed in response to new environmental stimulation that results in either positive or negative feelings. Thus, the likelihood is that similar patterns tied to what environmentally leads to desirable and undesirable emotions, as well as how this is behaviourally controlled, will be maintained.

Taking this point one step further, it is not surprising to anyone that in most circumstances, one’s native verbal language (e.g., English) continues to be used in social interaction. That applies to new and old relationships, including relationships with friends, spouse, and individuals at school and work. For example, if someone never learned to speak Chinese, why would you expect him to speak Chinese in social situations? When considering emotional communications in relationships, would it not be equally expected that one would continue to employ that learned over the course of one’s developmental years?

The interested reader will probably wish to read my articles to learn more about these interpersonal patterns, including the most effective ways to deal with each. The behavioural descriptions serve a major purpose in the emotional restructuring session which is directed toward neutralising negative emotional memories tied to problematic past and current relationships.


Many other aspects exist in relation to these theories, including specific treatment approaches in dealing with influential negative emotional memories (e.g., problems tied to parents, spouse and peer bullying). Each of my articles (with the exception of the 2015 continuing education course) is available at ResearchGate  and Academia.edu. The continuing education (CE) article is available here.

Dr Robert Moss, a former associate professor in clinical psychology, is currently with North Mississippi Medical Centre’s Regional Pain Consultants. He is the founding editor-in-chief of AIMS Neuroscience. He originated the Clinical Biopsychological Model of psychotherapy integration. He is board certified in clinical psychology (ABPP) and neuropsychology (ABN). You can engage with him on Twitter @drbobmoss



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