Cliffside Malibu - Hazy Beach Cliffs

Mindsight & Interpersonal Neurobiology

Addiction recovery is about health and connection, about creating opportunities for a new and fulfilling life and then learning how to live that life. Recovery is healthier living. At Cliffside Malibu, we don’t subscribe to the idea that addiction is a disease for which you must be treated. Instead, we believe in “loving a person with substance use disorder into treatment” — helping you to hear and eventually believe that the life you want for yourself is possible. Once you realize this at a core level, we can then help you attain that very life you thought you could never have.

Woman doing yoga and practicing mindsight at Cliffside Malibu, an addiction treatment center in Malibu, California.

What is Mindsight?

Mindsight, a term created by Dr. Siegel, is the process of learning how to “name and tame” our emotions. It is the ability to be able to reflect on our own inner experience. Addicts lack impulse control. At our treatment center, we use tools such as mindfulness meditation to help individuals cultivate the ability to sit with a feeling and make positive choices about what to do in a situation, instead of acting impulsively and immediately on what is being experienced.

Two men talking about Interpersonal Neurology at Cliffside Malibu, a treatment center in Malibu, California.

What is Interpersonal Neurology?

Interpersonal Neurobiology illustrates the ways in which people are wired to grow healthy brains when in community. Our brains and emotions develop best when they are in a supportive environment. At Cliffside Malibu, we recognize that each of us can reach our fullest potential when qualities of deep interpersonal relationships are fostered in positive ways. We therefore work with each of our clients to help them build the support structure and community they need to be successful and sober long term, both in the treatment center and after going home.

Group of people sitting in chairs at group therapy at Cliffside Malibu, an addiction treatment center in Malibu, California.

Dr. Dan Siegel

Dr. Dan Siegel, a Harvard trained psychiatrist and clinical faculty at the UCLA School of Medicine, is a pioneer in the area of brain research. His work parallels what we do at Cliffside Malibu. He is a psychiatrist leading the call to bring holistic ideals and a focus on wellness, rather than disease, back into medicine. He has developed two concepts that are of particular importance to addiction recovery, Mindsight and Interpersonal Neurobiology.  Although Cliffside Malibu applies the work of Dr. Siegel in its clinic, Dr. Siegel is not on our staff nor is he associated with Cliffside Malibu.

Dr. Siegel’s work validates a therapeutic approach to healing and addiction recovery. We use the tenets of Dr. Siegel’s work to help the addict heal holistically – on the levels of mind, body, and spirit. From “loving people into recovery,” in our interventions, we work with addicts to develop the community and family support they need to live healthy, productive lives. Additionally, we offer several different forms of meditation in our treatment protocol to help addicts quiet their minds and develop the emotional maturity that short-circuits the impulsivity and undermines the recovery process.

Suggested Readings

Dr. Siegel has a new book out, published in 2014, that further develops our understanding of how the brain works. It’s called Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain. Not only is it aNew York Times bestseller, but its readability captures Dr. Siegel’s work at its best. We’ve used the ideas in this book to help us understand how addiction changes the teenager’s brain and helps us to better treat addicts who began using in their teens. This breakthrough research is helping us in particular to develop better treatment for those addicted to marijuana.

To learn more about Dr. Siegel and his work, we encourage you to explore the following resources:

You may also be interested in one or more of his many books. Some of our favorites are: The Developing Mind, Second Edition: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We AreMindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, and Parenting from the Inside Out: How A Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive, co-authored with Mary Hartzell, M.Ed.


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(424) 320-3061