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The Short Version: What if you could change your own brainwave patterns and positively impact your relationship with others? David Kavanagh, who specializes in neuropsychotherapy in Ireland, teaches his patients techniques to accomplish just that. By understanding the way your brain works, you can better handle stress, fear, and challenging situations at the heart of relationship problems. Through cyber-counseling, in-office visits, and his book, “Love Rewired: Using Your Brain To Mend Your Heart,” David helps people change behaviors to find lasting happiness.
Some couples feel too embarrassed to seek out the therapy they need, while others think it just isn’t worth the time. But I know how influential the right counselor can be when you’re hurt and need a healing hand.
Years ago, after a particularly tough break up, I invested in my mental health with weekly visits to a therapist. She was invaluable in helping me reframe my problems, seek solutions and find the peace I needed after finally ridding myself of a guy who wasn’t right for me. I attended sessions for about a month before we decided I had made the progress I needed.
I visited her one more time, years later, during another time of crisis, and her perspective and goal-oriented approach helped me overcome my problems and begin to build the life I dreamed for myself.
But many couples think therapy won’t work for them, even as they struggle in relationships plagued with problems and miscommunications. Part of their worry is that they won’t find the right person to talk with, or that the course of action will be ineffective. If they’re going to put themselves out there, they want something that’s going to work.
Psychotherapist David Kavanagh knows the stakes and is committed to helping people find effective, lasting solutions. That’s why he bases his work on the science of neuropsychology. Using what social scientists have learned about the human brain and how it impacts our behavior and relationships, David has helped more than 12,000 couples from around the world change their outlooks — and thought patterns.
He’s an expert in both relationships and addictions and helps individuals and couples in his office based in Dundrum, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, as well as internationally through Skype.
“I’m solution-focused and use neuropsychotherapy to underpin my coaching advice for clients, so they understand how their brains work in response to fear or stress,” David said. “They can learn to use their mirror neurons, which can, effectively, change people’s behavior and their reactions to you. By using these mirror neurons with your tone of voice or the body language, you can match the person you are trying to engage with.”
When David began his career in Ireland 15 years ago, he knew he wanted to focus on helping people connect with each other — intimately and honestly. He had studied theology at Maynooth University before working as a lay school chaplain and childcare worker. He combined the compassion of those fields with the skills he learned as a registered systemic family therapist to reach out to couples.
“I realized that people were going to psychotherapists for marriage and family problems, but no one in Ireland who was qualified as a dating coach for relationships,” David said. “That’s when I launched myself in the world of dating coaching.”
Now, the media often seeks out his practical and witty takes on how to improve communication, confidence, and mindfulness.
He appears regularly on radio shows and is quoted in Irish newspapers, and he was the featured marriage therapist on BBC’s six-part program “You’re Not the Man I Married.” David is arguably the best-known dating coach in the country.
Most of David’s clients range in age from 30 to 55 and are struggling in the dating world after an end to a long-term marriage — or frustrated about whether they’ll ever find the right partner.
Thousands of couples and individuals appreciate the straightforward manner, probing questions, and mindfulness techniques that David and his team use to help clients.
“Sessions are once a week, for an hour. I tend to begin with an assessment on how the week has been and get feedback from the exercises I gave them as homework and look at how they’ve interacted with other people,” David said. “It’s goal-focused, so at the beginning of each exercise, I try to get the person to understand more clearly what they want from the session and then plan a map out on how he or she can meet those goals.”
David’s book, “Love Rewired: Using Your Brain To Mend Your Heart,” offers a look inside your brain to understand everything from lust to how childhood events shape our adult lives.
“The book is about how neuroscience can help people have better relationships. It’s not designed as a dating manual, but for people already in relationships,” David said. “It’s a simple introduction to the fundamentals of neuroscience for anyone who wants to know how it can help them improve their relationship.”
One interesting study explained in the book is about the connection between fear and lust. Does a casual stroll down the beach or a quiet weekend away in the mountains sound romantic to you? Based on 1974 research findings published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, you may want to try a more daring date if you want to arouse your partner.
Male participants interviewed by an attractive female research assistant just after they had crossed a fear-inducing suspension rope bridge were more likely to call her afterward, according to the study. The researchers interpreted this to mean that the men found the woman more attractive when they were still feeling anxious about crossing the bridge. The more adrenaline that is running through your body, the more attraction will be in your relationship, according to “Love Rewired.”
David focuses his mindfulness workshops and counseling sessions on anxiety, sex addiction, depression, and sexual performance, among other issues. His mission is to help clients become more confident in themselves.
“My goal is to get people to see themselves differently, and that success isn’t about meeting the right person or getting a date or a long-term relationship,” David said. “Success is an overwhelming sense of confidence in yourself and an overwhelming belief that you have a right to be happy. It’s the ability to choose certain people along the way to meet your needs as you recognize those specific needs over time. That’s how you can gauge your success in the dating world.”
He’s in negotiations with a large insurance company to branch out further into the market in the United Kingdom, as well as design more programs specifically for single men and women that will lead to the same success he’s helped couples discover over the years.
“It’s a lovely feeling when you get feedback from clients who have gone out on dates and changed their behaviors. They’ve removed the negative belief systems from their minds and allowed themselves to feel happy again. It’s a good feeling, and it makes coaching worthwhile,” David said. “People should be hopeful that, if they reach out to the right coach, they can achieve their goals and be as happy as they deserve to be.”