- How the brain develops in teens and adolescents
- The teen brain and behaviour
- The importance of sleep in supporting brain development
- How solution focused hypnotherapy can help support teens and good mental health
Unpacking the brain
In the last twenty years, advances in technology have enabled us to look inside our brains. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) means scientists can investigate how our brains change as we age. This offers amazing insights and informs what I do using hypnotherapy to support teens.
Late childhood and adolescence is an exciting time in terms of brain development. The teen brain is like a sponge soaking up experiences. Brain plasticity is high and research shows brain cells in teens are connecting at a rapid rate. This facilitates the building of new neural pathways, which are needed to acquire new skills. Learning to play the piano for example; is easier for a young person, compared to an adult.
Uneven rates of growth
However, though the circuitry system or neural connectivity of the brain is evolving quickly, this rate of growth is not distributed evenly across the different brain regions. Development of the brain begins at the back of the brain; in the regions that deal with movement skills and visual and spatial perception. It is therefore easier for teenagers to learn from, change and adapt to their environment.
The final stage of development is in the frontal lobe, which is like the executive function. This area deals with the cognitive processes that enable us to have insights, make judgements and be able to engage in critical decision-making.
Risky and reward seeking behaviours
As the rational part of the brain is the last to mature; in the mid to late twenties, it is no surprise that teenagers are more likely to take risks and lack judgement. The high cost of car insurance for youngsters reflects the increased risk of accidents within this age group.
Research also shows that connections in the brain that deal with reward are more active. Many teenagers experiment with sex, drink and drugs; seeking heightened feelings and sensations but overlooking the accompanying risks. Moving from the back of the brain to the mid-brain reward system in the limbic region, again, this is maturing at a faster rate than the frontal lobe. Because the brain is still in the uneven process of maturity; addictive patterns of thinking can become established at this time.
In addition; hormonal changes in the teen brain affect the circadian rhythm. Research shows increasing levels of melatonin shift the sleep cycle forwards. Ideally, teenagers would have 8-10 hours of sleep per night. The school routine does not allow for this, if teens are sleeping later and still having to get up early.
Re-modelling of the brain and sleep
Following on from the increased neural connectivity in the teen brain comes the re-modelling stage. The profuse generation of neurons and communication pathways between neurons; facilitated by synapses, requires some fine tuning.
In his book ‘Why we sleep’, neuroscientist and sleep expert Matt Walker discusses his research into sleep during the teenage and early adult years. His findings show that where the REM (rapid eye movement) or dreaming stage of sleep, has been necessary to increase brain connections, deep NREM (non-dreaming sleep) deals with the sculpting or re-shaping of the brain. Deep sleep intensity begins at the back of the brain and then moves forward through adolescence, finally reaching the frontal lobe where we can think rationally.
The re-modelling process of synaptic pruning can result in the removal of up to 40% of synapses/junctions between neurons, as stated in a Harvard health article. Critical thinking, cognitive skills and reasoning ability start to improve.
The efficiency and accuracy of the remaining connections also improves as the white insulating coating of myelin on the axons that carry the signals between nerve cells continues to increase.
How solution focused hypnotherapy can help
Hypnotherapy can help young people navigate through the maturing process by encouraging them to move into the pre-frontal cortex region of their brain and manage stress better.
This positive, solution focused approach is often a relief to teens, where they do not have to keep talking about the problem. The emphasis is on taking positive action and developing confidence to achieve their goals.
The pre-frontal cortex is in the frontal lobe and can help with emotional regulation. In sessions; we look at what is happening in the teen brain. With this insight; teens can better understand their behaviours and move more towards self-awareness and self-confidence. They can begin to feel more calm and in control, which, in turn, promotes better sleep.
Matt Walker also explores the importance and benefits of teenagers getting sufficient sleep to consolidate and safeguard new learning. This can help with exam success and better health in every respect.
Hypnotherapy can help overcome issues common to adolescents, such as addictions, anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, depression and low confidence.
The exciting potentials within neuroplasticity
I am forever excited by neuroplasticity! In other words, this means we all have the potential to rewire our brains and change the way we think. All of us can therefore tap into this amazing ability. Because of this, we can take responsibility for our brains! Solution focused hypnotherapy can help us achieve this.
A little bit about me
Emma Victoria Tranmer MA (Hons) PGCE HPD DSFH Member of the AfSFH Solution Focused Hypnotherapist
I specialise in helping people overcome anxiety and stress related issues. Hypnotherapy transformed my life for the better and I subsequently enjoy helping others do the same. Working as a hypnotherapist is therefore incredibly rewarding.
My love of learning means I am always looking at ways to further my own professional development. Hypnotherapy can help with a wide range of issues and I see clients with varied challenges like sports performance, addictions, phobias, disturbed sleep, panic attacks and depression.
Book an Appointment
You can take positive steps to help you attain a more hopeful perspective. Move forward in your life can become easier as a result. In addition, hypnotherapy can help you discover the tools and inner resources to do this; step by step.
I offer an initial consultation where you can meet me and find out more about what I do. This will also give me the opportunity to understand where you are in your life right now and what you would like to achieve. There is no charge for this.
There may be something else that you, or someone you might know, is struggling with right now. Give me a call on 07550 098029 to discuss in strictest confidence.