Helping Kids Take Charge of Their Brains

How to Make Brain Science Your Ally with Young Clients

Rich Simon

Perhaps you’re seeing a kid in therapy who’s overcome with anxiety or depression. You may have tried to engage him with games and casual conversation about the latest X-men movie. But what about talking to him about the latest neuroscience and the way his brain works? Would that do any good?



According to interpersonal neurobiologist Dan Siegel, author of Brainstorm: The Power and the Purpose of the Teenage Brain, kids can actually find this information pretty cool when it’s articulated the right way. Understanding the brain not only changes the way kids look at themselves, Dan says, but it prompts them to be more engaged in therapy when they understand that how they behave strongly impacts how their brains operate.


In this brief video clip, Dan talks about how to put brain science into language that young clients actually find interesting. With one teenager he worked with, for instance, gamma aminobutyric acid became “GABA Goo,” likened to the soothing salve the prefrontal region of the brain secretes on the amygdala. That salve, activated through mindfulness exercises, helps regulate anxious feelings. “I want kids to be scientifically informed,” says Dan. “But I’m also using the fun, the humor, and the goofy things we say to each other because we’re developing a human relationship.”


In the Networker Webcast series A New Road Map for Working with Kids and Teens, Dan talks about how to bring brain science into therapy with kids and how to make it understandable, colorful, and a driving force in promoting change.


A New Road Map for Working with Kids and Teens:
Getting Through to Today’s Distracted Youth

Click here for full course details

Topic: Mind/Body | Anxiety/Depression | Mindfulness

Tags: amygdala | brain science | Brainstorm | conversation | Dan Siegel | depression | kids | Mindfulness Exercises | neuroscience | science | talking | teens | therapy

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