Train Your Brain with Individual Therapy
Our brains are our bodies executives. We cannot function without them and they dictate every word we say and every action we take. But just as even the highest ranking executive can be trained to do things differently if the need arises, so can we train our brains using therapy to react in a manner best suited for our mental, physical, and emotional health. Dr. William Klemm is a senior professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University. He explains the executive functions of the brain in further detail by revealing that the “The human brain contains a distinct network that serves as its executive agent.” This network, as he describes, is responsible for regulating the many “top down” neurobehavioral functions which our brains control and determine. Deficiencies in the function of this network, as Dr. Klemm explains, can underlie a number of neuropsychiatric conditions, including memory loss. Therefore, according to Dr. Klemm: “The ability to regulate emotions and direct rational actions is typically associated with success in life, and inability to do so often leads to dire consequences.”
Can Therapy Help Train our Brains?
Luckily, therapy can enable us to train this network so that it may develop a more robust capacity for executive control. What does this mean? Essentially, therapy can help us train our brains to better serve our own happiness by helping us take back control. Dr. Klemm suggests that some of this training takes place at home and at school, where our minds are developed, but another such means of applying this assistance can be achieved through therapy. Therapy can help by acting a supplemental means of communicating, better understanding oneself, and learning to orient one’s goals and ambitions toward self-improvement.
Therapy can not only help us train our brains but in some cases may even expedite this process. After all, many of us see more improvement once we discuss our concerns with a therapist in a comfortable, nonjudgmental setting versus perhaps opening up to the same degree when we feel as though others might judge us. This poses the question of how long exactly does it take for us to alter our executive control? The answer varies from person to person and there is no set timeframe that is considered “right” versus one that can be considered “wrong.” What Dr. Klemm has found, however, is that when it comes to issues of memory loss, one’s memory capacity can potentially be expanded in a short period of time thanks to therapeutic implementation and “training”.
Memory Training Improves More than Just Memory
Interestingly, this may mean more than we realized. Dr. Klemm states that “To pursue this possibility in a specific context, researchers have hypothesized that inappropriate or maladaptive behaviors might be reduced by effective working memory training based on emotion-laden stimuli.” In other words, by starting with our emotional memories, ones that might trigger us to behave or think in a way that can be harmful or, as Dr. Klemm puts it, “maladaptive behaviors,” we can aim to ultimately improve our overall thoughts and actions which may have developed as a result of this stimuli in the first place. Therapy sessions can be the best place to determine to what extent we are negatively influenced by our past experiences and what emotional responses we might have to certain recollections. It is through exploring these relationships that we can better understand how to move forward in our thinking and afterwards in how we behave as a result.
Better Executive Control Means Better Self Control
Dr. Klemm has examined several studies in which emotional memory training has benefited the individual participants. This training has helped them develop the ability to better regulate their emotions which then allows them to be more successful in their daily lives and interactions. Dr. Klemm explains: “The emotional working memory training produced benefits that transferred to the emotional response task. Trained subjects not only regulated their emotions better but also developed greater brain-scan activity during the emotional task in the predicted brain regions of interest, the executive control loci.” In other words, not only did this training improve their emotional responses but also improved the participants’ overall brain function. In doing this, this “training” can help afflicted individuals learn to overcome their past trauma and emotional triggers to reclaim the executive function of their brains which can then be focused on their goals, aspirations of self-improvement.