Dan Siegel, author of Brainstorm: The Power and the Purpose of the Teenage Brain, knows that nobody—especially an angst-filled teenager—likes being told what to do. As creative and adventurous as they may be, you’re likely to get eye rolls and crossed arms when you tell them, for instance, that the best way to control their anger toward their parents is through breathing exercises. That’s why Dan takes a more roundabout approach. “Would you like to know more about your brain?” he asks first. Only when the answer is yes—or rather, “Sure, why not? I’ve got nothing better to do.”—can you break out the brain science.
In this brief video clip, Dan recalls explaining to one young client how weak fibers in his prefrontal brain were responsible for his moodiness. “Well, what can I do about that?” the client responded with a small glimmer of real curiosity. Aha! Engagement. “Now he’s asking me!” says Dan. “Now I’m not some sort of dictator saying, ‘This is what you must do.’”
Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.
Longtime Psychotherapy Networker contributor Daniel J. Siegel, MD, is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and completed his postgraduate medical education at UCLA with training in pediatrics and child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry. He is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, founding co-director of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, founding co-investigator at the UCLA Center for Culture, Brain and Development, and executive director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational center devoted to promoting insight, compassion, and empathy in individuals, families, institutions, and communities. Dr. Siegel’s psychotherapy practice spans thirty years, and he has published extensively for the professional audience. He serves as the Founding Editor for the Norton Professional Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology which includes over 70 textbooks.