How Your Brain “Grows Up”: Brain Change from Adolescence to Adulthood

Growing up, do you remember counting down the days until your 18th birthday? For many of us, 18 meant adulthood and, most importantly, freedom from the rules and restrictions that often come along with adolescence . . . . . . rules meant to protect teenagers from what we might think of as risky or impulsive behavior. According to Dan Siegel, MD, these behaviors may have to do with the structure of the teenage brain. In this video, he explains one fundamental change that happens in the brain during adolescence, and why it may hold the key to understanding the…

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A Trauma Therapy Program for Children in Conflict Zones

If a single traumatic experience can change a person’s life for years to come, what must an average day be like for someone who faces traumatic events on a routine basis? For people affected by war or natural disaster, where entire populations from infants to the elderly have been exposed to so much suffering, what can we possibly put in place to help them cope? Researchers wanted to see whether the Teaching Recovery Techniques (TRT) program could be one effective resource for this population. TRT is a skills-based cognitive behavioral therapy program that has significantly reduced symptoms of PTSD in…

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How to Recognize Childhood Trauma

When kids have trouble paying attention in school, when they’re too emotional, or reactionary, or downright aggressive, what can we do to help them turn it around? Perhaps too often, these behaviors are addressed with medication for ADHD or bipolar disorder. But according to Bessel van der Kolk, MD, the problem (and the solution) may lie in knowing how to recognize the signs and symptoms of childhood trauma. Bessel walks us through the major markers of this kind of trauma in this short video – check it out, it’s just 4 minutes. Click here to sign up. Bessel will tell…

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Do stress and emotional trauma affect child development?

Trauma and children

Can trauma pass from parent to child? It’s an interesting question. Some leading-edge research suggests that it’s possible – trauma felt by survivors might even affect their children’s gene expression. But we don’t need epigenetics to study how trauma strikes across generations. For example, researchers at Auburn University studied a more mundane form of intergenerational trauma transmission. Led by Mona El-Sheikh, PhD, a research team looked at whether household stress harms children’s stress response systems. They proposed that children who experience marital conflict will experience stress that results in poorer cognitive performance. To test this hypothesis, researchers observed 251 children…

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Mindful Kids: How Mindfulness Meditation Can Change the Classroom

We got a lot of heartfelt responses to our last blog post about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Judging from the words of comfort, it’s clear that the community of Newtown, CT is still in our thoughts and prayers. Reading through the comments, I noticed that a number of people mentioned a need for our children to have access to mindfulness in the classroom. As Suzy from Colorado put it, “I want mindfulness to be part of the grade school curriculum. Believing in yourself and encouraging positive self-concept in the early years might decrease the possibility of these…

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Our Hearts Go Out to Sandy Hook Elementary

Tragedy at Sandy Hook

How can this keep happening? That was my immediate thought upon hearing the tragic news of this latest school shooting that took place yesterday in my home state of Connecticut. The unthinkable has happened again, this time at an elementary school – 26 dead, 18 of them children, at the time of this writing. The details, I’m sure, will keep trickling out for weeks to come. But the heartbreak is here and now, and the wounds of such trauma run incredibly deep for the families whose lives have just changed irrevocably. And even though in our work as practitioners we’re…

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