What the heck is Relational Neuroscience?

Sep 7, 2020Uncategorized

What is relational neuroscience?

Relational neuroscience is an integrated field of study of what brains do in relationship.

Also known as IPNB (Interpersonal Neurobiology), relational neuroscience is an interdisciplinary study of how brains behave in relationship. The field brings together Psychology, Attachment Research, Cognitive and Social Neuroscience and Complexity Theory to create a synthesized understanding of self and other. Dr. Daniel Siegel is the primary figure in this field.

Working with cutting-edge neuroscience research, relational neuroscience is in a continual state of development and integration, supporting people to have a clear and compassionate understanding of themselves in the world and in their histories, both as individual humans and as mammals.

As people learn about themselves with resonance and understanding, they are freed to find their own way to healing and the natural expression of who they were born to be.

The essence of this work is to learn to resonate with ourselves and others so that our foundational and generous selves are unearthed from implicit entanglements and supported to be as integrated and complex as we are supposed to be.

What does healing from trauma have to do with neuroscience?

There are so many frameworks and worldviews for conceptualizing what health, wellbeing and illness even is. If you ask indigenous tribal elder on Turtle Island, a Sangoma healer in the Zulu tradition of South Africa, or a Somatic Psychotherapist trained in the United States “how do I heal from trauma?” they will all have different answers, and likely highly different definitions for what trauma even is.

There are no “correct” definitions, only various kinds of maps for integration and healing that are informed by the cultural context in which those healing modalities arose.

Within interpersonal neurobiology, we conceptualize that there are nine different domains of integration – that is, nine different dimensions by which we can see and articulate the way in which human brains heal and become more whole, in a way that’s just right for us.

The Nine Domains of Integration

When trauma is present, our brains capacity for integration is impaired. We become rigid, blocked, stuck in patterns of too much, or not enough. Domains of integration are the places in which our brains integrate as we do the trauma healing work.

The key to moving the system toward well-being is to begin to explore which elements are not differentiated and/or linked, across a spectrum of nine different domains:

  • Integration of Presence (consciousness)
  • Vertical Integration (body and mind, self-regulation, choice)
  • Horizontal Integration (left and right hemispheres)
  • Integration of Memory (emotional and factual memory)
  • Narrative Integration (the stories we tell and the sense we make of them)
  • State Integration (moving toward living in emotional states that are easier on us)
  • Temporal Integration (finding ourselves in time)
  • Interpersonal Integration (being just the right amount differentiated and just the right amount close and connected with others, in a way that works for us.)
  • Transpirational Integration (coming to feel connected to a larger whole.)

Again, there is no ideal “final resting place” for integration or wellness. Healing and wholeness are an entirely subjective experience that is up to us to determine for ourselves.

Recommended Reading

My book Your Resonant Self includes foundational elements of Relational Neuroscience and gives an overview of the field. Your Resonant Self explains the importance of the voice of the body and teaches us how to use resonance to move into neuroplasticity, which is how the brain heals and changes.

If you’d like to read even deeper into the foundations of Interpersonal Neurobiology, also known as Relational Neuroscience, you might enjoy these other books:

Dive deeper

While we so often want to resolve our problems all by ourselves, we cannot do it alone!  We need other people and their kindness in order to heal and thrive. We are social animals, and our brains are meant to be soothes by other human animals.

If you enjoy learning by watching, you might like the original book study course recordings, which go through the material and foundational concepts of Your Resonant Self one chapter at a time, or my foundational course Introduction to Resonant Language.


Are you longing to dive deeper into Sarah’s book, Your Resonant Self? This original book study video course moves through the foundational concepts of YRS one chapter at a time.

This product is on special 2-for-1 offer: study this material with a friend for free! (At check-out, use the “additional info” section to give us the email of a friend you’d like to give a free copy to.  We will send your friend a message to get them set up with the course so you’ll both have access.)


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About Sarah

Sarah Peyton

Sarah Peyton

Sarah Peyton, international speaker and facilitator, has a passion for weaving together neuroscience knowledge and experiences of healing that unify people with their brains and bodies.

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> Why learning about neuroscience helps us heal

> How to grow a nicer brain (hint: it's NOT mindfulness meditation!)

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> Why reassurance doesn't help us heal, and how to use resonance instead

> Why your inner voice is so cruel (and what to do about it!) 



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Right-hemispheric language calms our limbic system and transforms the way our brains approach stress

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Learn the Foundational Concepts of Your Resonant Self in a Weekly Book Study Group


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Breaking free from trauma begins with dissolving unconscious contracts


Download the Your Resonant Self Workbook guided meditations and introduction chapter to learn how to release unconscious contracts and stop self-sabotage!

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Join Sarah on May 25th for a live book launch event, featuring an unconscious contracts process and a sneak peek into the Your Resonant Self Workbook

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Meet Your Resonating Self-witnessfor a new level of self-warmth, understanding and gentleness


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Developing self-kindness takes self-trust... but how do we begin? Introducing the Resonating Self Witness.


Watch this free class from Sarah's Your Resonant Self Book Study Course to learn how to begin the journey of self-resonance and trust. No matter what traumas you've endured, healing is possible

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Curious about the Resonant Healing Practitioner Certification?

Sarah is offering two free informational calls (Nov 19th: 9am-10:30am PST & Nov 20th: 6pm-7:30pm PST) to discuss the RHP certification path. 

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