By: Katie Connell
For a long time, scientists believed that changes to brain structure only occurred during infancy and childhood. By the time one became an adult, it was thought that brain structure would remain largely permanent and that no more changes could occur. However, in the 1960’s, scientists discovered that changes to the adult brain were indeed possible. One thing that verified this were brain changes that occurred to patient’s brains that were damaged in injuries and accidents. Damage that occurred in certain parts of one’s brain resulted in healthier parts taking over. With this discovery came insight into other ways that the brain could be changed, specifically in the realm of psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a great example of a type of psychotherapy that can lead to long lasting changes to the brain. During a process called synaptic pruning, extra neurons (which transmit information) and synaptic connections (which permit neurons to transmit info) are eliminated to increase the efficiency of neural transmissions. One way this happens is by neurons being used more frequently. Those that aren’t used as much get eliminated, which improves the transmission of information. By repeated exposure and engagement in CBT (including thought shifting techniques and cognitive restructuring), neurons become strengthened, meaning less synapses and better transmission of neurons. Through the use of routine CBT, critical neural networks are able to change how we think and feel.
If you or a person you know is seeking CBT or other forms of therapy, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Please contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.