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Mon, Mar 07


Online Event

Introduction to Evolutionary Psychology, Behavioral Genetic, Personality & Esteem Dynamics for System Involved Youth

Cody Gibson, LMFT

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Introduction to Evolutionary Psychology, Behavioral Genetic, Personality & Esteem Dynamics for System Involved Youth
Introduction to Evolutionary Psychology, Behavioral Genetic, Personality & Esteem Dynamics for System Involved Youth

Time & Location

Mar 07, 2022, 9:00 AM – 12:15 PM PST

Online Event

About the Event

Cody Gibson, LMFT

Training Description

Evolutionary Psychology (EP) offers an evidence-based approach to understanding universal human nature. Behavioral Genetics (BG) explains how the five-factor model of personality (Big 5) has a genetic component and accounts for many individual differences between people. Having a deeper understanding of these theories allows stakeholders to better meet the needs for growth in the areas of social/emotional/intellectual development and to be more effective in promoting wellbeing for system involved youth. This training will provide tools to improve identification of strengths and needs of system involved youth and families. The training will provide an introductory understanding of BG research that demonstrates a heritable component to most elements of human psychology including psychopathology, social relationships and overall life outcomes. EP offers insights into how various models can be integrated into an eclectic approach to supporting system involved youth that is grounded in evolutionary principles. Goals of this training are to give participant’s an introduction to EP, BG, and the Big 5 so that these learnings can promote a deeper understanding of system involved youth and their families inform strategies aimed at improving the lives of system involved youth which are grounded in a unifying evolutionary framework. Learning activities will include polls, small group break-out discussions, experiential personality test, and vignettes.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn the foundation of EP including some of the fundamental theories from EP that highlight universal human tendencies (i.e. psychological adaptations, reciprocal altruism, information processing, cost-benefit analysis, conflicts of interest, sexual selection, parental investment theory, resource signaling, mismatch, inclusive fitness, in-group/out-group dynamics, dominance hierarchies, and status)
  • Explore the foundations of BG (heritability established via adoption and twin studies, gene-environment interactions)
  • Identify the 5 factors of personality, examine possible evolutionary trade-offs related to each dimension
  • Interpretation of psychopathology in terms of adaptive mechanism and evolutionary mismatch
  • Develop insights into esteem dynamics, social signaling, and domains of human competitive processes
  • Explore how evolutionary theory can function as a meta-theory unifying elements of various strategies to support system involved youth and families.


9:00-9:10am  Welcome, trainer’s background, introduce topic

  • Set stage with consilience theory and intention of the training to unify separate approaches into strategies to support youth most effectively
  • Basic overview of what is EP
  • Proximal versus ultimate causes

9:10-9:40am  Evolutionary Psychology Principles

  • Psychological adaptations, reciprocal altruism, information processing, cost-benefit analysis, conflicts of interest, parental investment theory, mismatch, inclusive fitness, sexual selection, signaling theory, supernormal stimuli, dominance hierarchies, and status

9:40-10:00am  Basics of Behavioral Genetics

  • Adoption and Twin Studies, define heritability
  • Poll-Heritability of various phenomena
  • Heritability of psychopathology

10:00-10:30 am  Five Factor Model of personality

  • OCEAN-openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism (emotional stability)
  • Define each dimension in terms of bell curves, and evolutionary trade-off and clinical considerations

10:30-10:50am Brief Personality test, self-assess and break out rooms

  • In break-out room discuss personality distortions of self, youth, or family member

10:50-11:05am  BREAK (CEUs will not be offered during this time)

11:05-11:35 EP and Esteem Dynamics and consilience with traditional counseling modalities

  • Three main competitive domains, internal audience, esteem cues, identifying and improving fundamental skills in competitive process
  • Using EP as a meta-theory for an integrative eclectic approach to supporting youth and families

11:35-12:00pm  Psychopathology in terms of adaptations

  • Depression-Behavioral Inhibition
  • Anxiety-the smoke detector principle
  • PTSD-adaptive in a threatening environment
  • Vignette, discuss in break-out rooms in the context of esteem dynamics

12:00-12:15pm Closing remarks, review key learning and evaluations

Meet Our Trainer

Cody Gibson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California. He has been a Mental Health Therapist for Fred Finch Youth & Family Services for 7 years servicing particpants doing Therapeutic Behavioral Services (TBS), facilitating child and family and team meetings (Katie A), in the Visiting Therapist Program with system involved youth, and is currently in the John Muir Commuinty Health Program collaborating with other agencies in treating victims of violence. Cody first studied evolutionary psychology as an undergraduate at CSU, Chico doing his senior seminar in Evolutionary Psychology (2006). The culminating project of Cody’s Master’s degree program (also at CSU, Chico) was his analytical review (like a thesis without data collection) titled “Towards an Evolutionary Approach of Psychopathology” (2009). Since that time he has continued self-education in the the field of evolutionary psychology continually striving to intergrate it into his clinical practice, has published a psychoeducational webpage and has developed this training to introudce how this cutting edge reaserch can be applied to mental health work.

This course meets the qualifications for (3) BBS CEUs for LCSWs, LMFTs, LPCCs, and LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences & is provided by Fred Finch Youth Center, CAMFT Provider #045295.

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