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.’”
In the Networker Webcast series A New Road Map for Working with Kids and Teens, Dan talks about how introducing brain science in therapy with teenagers can lead to a stronger therapeutic alliance. “Just telling adolescents what to do doesn’t work,” says Dan. “You’ve got to align with them and be more like a companion on a journey.” Brain science can make that a journey of both emotional and intellectual discovery.
A New Road Map
To Working with Kids and Teens
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