14 Jun Counselling changes the Brain
Neuroplasticity is an important term that explains how the benefits of counseling can change the brain. Neuroplasticity describes our brains ability to change itself through new experiences. Every experience we have create neuropathways in our brain. The more similar experiences we have the more our neuropathways develop and become stronger. For instance, if a dog bites me, I might be surprised. If it happens again, I may start to feel scared of dogs. As these negative experiences with dogs occur, my neuropathways are being strengthened in areas of the brain that keep me on high alert. It will then take many positive encounters with dogs in order to reverse all the negative experiences.
Neuroscience explains what happens in our brain as we encounter new experiences. Research has found that behaviors can actually not only change the physiology (function) of the brain but also its anatomy (structure). The concept of neuroplasticity is linked to the idea of synaptic pruning which states connections between the neurons in the brain is changing in the constant manner. Previous connections are broken to make the new ones. Multiple stimuli such as behavioral changes with respect to the environment, thinking processes in some specific way, emotions etc. are needed for such changes in the brain. Similarly, changes at multiple levels are noted ranging from cellular and synaptic level to cortical remapping in response to stimulus.
Development of certain behaviors through neuroplasticity can also influence our relationships. Counselling facilitates new experiences for client. Of course, it depeneds on the counseling style, here at core counseling we work with the client in highlighting new experiences and positive experiences that are often minimized by the client. As negative emotions are processed with a counselor, a client often will feel relief. However, the work does not end there, for new new neuropathways to establish a person needs to stay and experiences the emotion for 30 seconds or more. The plasticity of the brain, for new connections to be made which then enable us to develop new set of behaviors, skills, attitude, belief etc.
How does that affect us in relationship? When it comes to relationship there are many factors that contribute to a good relationship. However, neuroplasticity can influence how we feel about our partners, friends, or family. For instance, everytime you have a positive encounter with a person take time to experience both the moment and the feelings. Then share the experience with the person and see how it affects them. These experiences can enhance feelings of safety, joy, love etc. for that person. Increasing the potiential for more positive experience to be fostered between two people. In order to have satisfying relationship, it involves continuous input from our partner to alter our brain mapping in order to enhance loving feelings. When we tried to avoid people in our relationships or expressed and unexpressed needs and desires of our life partner, we are reinforcing dislikes in our brain, making deeper neural connections in avoidance. Therefore, focusing on the positive in a relationship allows you brain to develop stronger neural connections to areas where positive experiences are stored.