Counseling and the Brain: An Overview


The last several decades have turned up numerous strands of research illuminating ever further the myriad ways in which, with the right conditions, the human brain actually builds itself throughout the person's life or, given conditions of unrelenting trauma and stress, falls very short of its incredible potential development. Both types of conditions are highly relevant to mental health helpers, whose main work is to create the former while mitigating effects of the latter.


Dr Allen Ivey (2009) has extensively reviewed the burgeoning literature base and confirms the good news: mostly, we counselors/therapists/mental health professionals get it right! Most of what we do fosters clients' brain (and other) development, but how do we do this? What are the mechanisms by which counseling and therapy actually change, re-wire, and grow a person's brain? How are the effects of that change seen in a person's life? And we must ask the converse question as well: what brain functions and growth are stymied when there is emotional and even physical trauma, such as in domestic violence, natural disaster, or political conflict/war? An elementary grasp of new neuroscience understandings - and how these relate to our fields of counseling, psychotherapy and social work - helps us to help our clients with greater awareness and effectiveness.


The purpose of this course is to give you an overview of the emerging connection between the human brain and counseling, with particular focus on the ways in which brain processes affect and are affected by the processes of counseling and psychotherapy.



Upon successful completion of the course, you will be able to: Explain how we are neurobiologically hard-wired to survive and to connect; Name the main parts of a neuron and understand the function of each part; Identify the five processes which define the interface between counseling and neuroscience, and explain the role of each in human development; Describe the role of mirror neurons in developing capacity for connection; Identify the main parts of the brain and name their functions; Correlate the counseling micro-skills with the brain areas affected when we use each skill; Trace the role of nutrients and neurotransmitters in regulating brain processes; Identify how optimal diet and exercise preserve brains in a healthy state.




Level: 1

Duration (hrs): 3

Author: Dr Meg Carbonatto

CE Approvals:

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