The advent of new technology for studying the human brain – particularly functional magnetic resonance imaging – has changed the landscape of counselling and psychotherapy forever. Where it used to be considered sufficient – even comprehensive – knowledge for mental health professionals to observe the behaviour of their clients and/or analyse the client’s reported thoughts and emotions, it is now considered important to also understand the neuroscience associated with various aspects of human behaviour, thought, and emotion. The courses in this collection reflect the current (early) stages of understanding of this new science and its relationship to therapy.
Because neuroscience is in its infancy – particularly with respect to applications to therapy – several courses examine it at a basic level, through the prism of what counsellors need to know in order to translate its new understandings to clinical practice. As therapists, we are in the business of helping clients change, so one course looks at the neurobiology of behavior change, and another examines habits from a neuroscience angle. As therapists, we also need to be conversant with the main effects of neurotransmitters and hormones on brain function, and how these may change as the brain ages; several courses examine those topics. From questions such as how our brains reconsolidate memory and what happens with mirror neurons in talk therapy to ultimate questions of what we can learn via the mechanisms of brain (and gene) plasticity, the courses in this collection illuminate many aspects of what is going on in the brain as we set about doing normal human life – or endeavour to change that life through therapy.
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