Social Work Neuroscience and Social Work
by
Sarah Serbinski, Robert J. MacFadden
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0133

Introduction

Social work has historically embraced a biopsychosocial perspective, but in teaching, practice, and research there has been much less emphasis on the biological side of this professional stance. Recent advances in neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, education, interpersonal neurobiology, and related fields have provided an exciting new paradigm to explore the issues that are central to social work, such as coping, adjustment, mental health, child and adult development, attachment, learning, emotion, and relationships. Social work is at the earliest of stages in translating the meaning and significance of this emerging knowledge for its own professional purposes, as recently highlighted within the special edition of Smith College Studies in Social Work in 2014. As has been the tradition, social work will continue to benefit from knowledge developed from cognate professions, such as psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and education. At the same time, neuroscience itself is at an early stage in the development and refinement of knowledge relevant to the understanding of the brain, mind, emotions, thinking, and behavior. However, even in this early stage of knowledge, neuroscience and related fields are providing some insights for social work.

Introductory Works

There are several texts that provide background information useful to understanding neuroscience and neurobiology. Additionally, a few authors have focused specifically on how this new knowledge can inform social work practice and education. Applegate and Shapiro 2005 offers one of the best introductions to how neurobiology is relevant to social work practitioners and educators through an emphasis on attachment. Iacoboni 2009 introduces the discovery and significance of mirror neurons. Johnson 2004 explores addictions and neurobiology, with an emphasis on their relevance to social workers and nonscientists. Joseph LeDoux is a leading neuroscientist in the study of fear; LeDoux 1996 focuses on the fundamental nature of emotion and how this relates to cognition and behavior. Nunn, et al. 2008 presents information about the brain, its components, and its functions through the metaphor of an English village. Panksepp and Biven 2012 provides a comprehensive introduction to feelings and emotions. Siegel 1999 (revised in 2012) offers a seminal look at how the brain is involved in attachment and in the development of self. Zull 2002 presents an educator’s view of how the brain learns, including the implications of this for educators.

  • Applegate, Jeffrey S., and Janet R. Shapiro. 2005. Neurobiology for clinical social work: Theory and practice. New York: Norton.

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    The emphasis in this book is on the neurobiology of attachment and its implications for knowledge building and clinical social work practice. The book is written for clinical social workers and social work educators and emphasizes neural integration and emotional regulation.

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  • Iacoboni, Marco. 2009. Mirroring people: The science of empathy and how we connect with others. New York: Picador.

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    This book provides an introductory history to mirror neurons. It offers insights into how mirror neurons influence intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships. It also explores mirror neurons within various sectors of society, such as social work, business, and politics, as well as content areas such as brain disorders and substance misuse.

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  • Johnson, Harriette C. 2004. Psyche and synapse: Expanding worlds. 2d ed. Greenfield, MA: Deerfield Valley.

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    The first edition of this book (published in 1999 and titled Psyche, Synapse, and Substance: The Role of Neurobiology in Emotions, Behavior, Thinking, and Addiction for Non-Scientists) presents basic information about neurobiology and discusses the relevance of this content for social workers. Mental health and addictions are particularly emphasized with many illustrations and “fill in the blanks” sections to reinforce learning. This second edition offers an expanded range of topics, including a more expansive exploration of the biological and social approach to social work assessment and treatment.

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  • LeDoux, Joseph. 1996. The emotional brain: The mysterious underpinnings of emotional life. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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    This is a classic and engaging text written by an eminent neuroscientist. Focuses on topics relevant to social workers, including how the brain generates emotions and feelings, especially fear and anxiety. LeDoux points out that the emotions were our earliest form of decision making and that many emotions are products of evolutionary wisdom. In addition, he argues that emotion cannot be separated from reason, since emotions are part of the very edifice of reason.

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  • Nunn, Kenneth, Tanya Hanstock, and Bryan Lask. 2008. Who’s who of the brain: A guide to its inhabitants, where they live, and what they do. London: Kingsley.

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    Given that many social workers may not have a biology background, this text uses the metaphor of a small English town, with key inhabitants reflecting the central functions of the brain. It is a well-illustrated book that may help social workers both understand and remember brain biology.

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  • Panksepp, Jaak, and Lucy Biven. 2012. The archaeology of the mind: Neuroevolutionary origins of human emotions. New York: Norton.

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    This book provides a comprehensive and scientific discussion about how emotions—SEEKING (expectancy), FEAR (anxiety), RACE (anger), LUST (sexual excitement), CARE (nurturance), PANIC/GRIEF (sadness), and PLAY (social joy)—are created within the brain. A wealth of examples are provided for each of the identified feelings, as well as empirical research.

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  • Siegel, Daniel J. 1999. The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are. New York: Guilford.

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    In this seminal work on attachment, emotions, and the brain, Daniel J. Siegel, a psychiatrist and attachment researcher, makes fundamental connections between how the brain develops and its relationships to attachment, communication of emotions, and the developing self. This is a very densely written book, but the fundamental insights it offers are worth the effort. Siegel, in the second edition of this foundational book (published in 2012), enlarges his discussion of topics such as mindfulness, neuroplasticity, epigenetics, and consciousness and includes more diagrams and illustrations and a detailed glossary in this updated version.

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  • Zull, James. 2002. The art of changing the brain: Enriching teaching by exploring the biology of learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

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    This is a well-written text for educators that connects learning and teaching with the brain. The basic structure and functions of the brain are discussed in clear, nontechnical language and then related to how students learn. The author is a biologist and teacher in higher education, and he provides rich examples from his experience that highlight teaching as the art of changing the brain.

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Reference Resources

There are a number of web-based resources related to neuroscience. While none are specifically based in social work, many provide content and additional links that have relevancy to social work. Most of these are developed by foundations, such as the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, schools of higher education, such as Bryn Mawr College (Serendip), and societies, such as the Society for Neuroscience. Brains.org links psychological topics with neuroscience research and education in an alphabetized listing. It also includes references to recent brain-based books. Brain Mysteries is formatted to profile the latest research summaries in a news format that connects neuroscience with diverse topics, such as personality, anger, Alzheimer’s disease, and sexual orientation. It includes an archive of issues dating back to 2007. Eric Chudler’s website Neuroscience Education focuses on fundamental brain knowledge in areas such as neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, and behavioral neuroscience. It also includes other interesting topics, such as brain quotes and neuroscience milestones. Brain-Based Learning is a website run by Emerging Technologies that offers an extensive alphabetized listing of brain-based links, with a special emphasis on education and learning. Visual and audio references include, All in The Mind and TED Talks, which both explores a variety of neuroscience topics based in current research, practices, and experiences.

Textbooks

Several important texts provide a foundation in the areas of neuroscience and clinical practice and education. Arden and Linford 2009 approaches the topic from a clinical practice perspective with a heavy emphasis on evidence-based research. Badenoch 2008 emphasizes an interpersonal neurobiology perspective heavily rooted in everyday clinical practice. Davidson and Begley 2012 explores how Emotional Style may influence individuals’ resilience, outlook, social intuition, self-awareness, sensitivity to context, and attention. Cameron and McDermott 2007 offers a unique exploration of the roles of the body and the brain in social work practice. Cozolino 2010 presents an updated approach to psychotherapy that is rooted in interpersonal neurobiology. Farmer 2009 emphasizes a social work perspective to neuroscience that includes addictions and mental health and a biopsychosocial-spiritual approach to practice. Fishbane 2013 presents content in two major areas: the wisdom of neurobiology and application of this to couple therapy. Fosha, et al. 2009 deepens the discussion of how emotions relate to the brain, cognition, and behavior. Grawe 2007 brings a neuropsychotherapy perspective to practice with a detailed exploration of the implications of research findings to clinical practice. Hanson and Mendius 2009 offers a neuroscientific perspective on many of the fundamental tenants of Buddhism and describes strategies to achieve happiness. Jensen 2008 approaches the neuroscience literature from an educator’s perspective and explains its implications for educators. Montgomery 2013 offers neurobiology inspired insights on clinical practice. Matto, et al. 2013 provides social workers with a wide range of topics that explore how neuroscience is illuminating both research and practice. Pliszka 2003 presents fundamental knowledge about neuroscience and mental health for clinicians. Siegel 2010 presents the concept of mindsight, which refers to focused attention that allows us to perceive the internal workings of our own minds and that of others. This focused attention enables us to become more self-aware and less driven by habitual responses and emotional reactions. Mindsight is the basis for both emotional and social intelligence.

  • Arden, John B., and Lloyd Linford. 2009. Brain-based therapy with adults: Evidence-based treatment for everyday practice. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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    The authors describe this book as being based on evidence-based psychotherapy grounded in neuroscience. It is written for psychotherapists, including social workers who wish to incorporate an understanding of neuroscience into their assessment and intervention. It includes some fundamental brain biology and explores a range of psychotherapies, particularly the therapeutic relationship.

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  • Badenoch, Bonnie. 2008. Being a brain-wise therapist: A practical guide to interpersonal neurobiology. New York: Norton.

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    The author is a marriage and family therapist whose work is part of the interpersonal neurobiology approach led by Daniel Siegel. The book synthesizes much of the research on neuroscience and neurobiology and translates the findings into implications for therapy in a clear and compelling way. The discussion includes working with children, couples, and families from this brain-wise perspective.

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  • Cameron, Nadine, and Fiona McDermott. 2007. Social work and the body. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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    This book focuses on exploring theories that inform a social work theory of the body that includes neuroscience. Part 1 explores these theories, and Part 2 discusses implications for settings such as mental health, child protection, the aged, the body and health, and alcohol and drugs.

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  • Cozolino, Louis J. 2010. The neuroscience of psychotherapy: Healing the social brain. 2d ed. New York: Norton.

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    This second edition of this text is intended for psychotherapists who are interested in neuroscience and how both problems and interventions are related to brain functioning. Cozolino highlights the neuroplasticity of the brain and argues that all forms of psychotherapy are effective to the extent that they enhance change in relevant neural circuits. Social workers may benefit from viewing psychotherapy and other forms of intervention from this new brain-based paradigm.

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  • Davidson, Richard J., and Sharon Begley. 2012. The emotional life of your brain: How its unique patterns affect the way you think, feel, and live—and how you can change them. New York: Hudson Street.

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    The book explores how Emotional Style, based upon the neuroscientific affective research, proposes six dimensions that fall upon a continuum, including resilience, outlook, social intuition, self-awareness, sensitivity to context, and attention; however, the authors note that there are always outliers. There is a chapter dedicated specifically to assess one’s own or others’ Emotional Style. The remaining chapters provide information about the brain and how Emotional Style is developed and integrated into the mind, brain, and body. A wealth of research examples is provided.

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  • Farmer, Rosemary L. 2009. Neuroscience and social work practice: The missing link. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    Examines attachment perspectives as well as trauma, child neglect, psychotherapy, psychotropic medications, and addictions. Farmer notes that social workers have not traditionally seen the “social” as having anything to do with the brain. She argues that a neuroscientific perspective is a “missing link” for social workers that needs to be added to a transactional model so the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual can be understood in interaction with each other.

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  • Fishbane, Mona De Koven. 2013. Loving with the brain in mind: Neurobiology and couple therapy. New York: Norton.

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    In this text, the author applies neuroscience to understand the dynamics of couple functioning and well-being. It builds on a foundation of Interpersonal Neurobiology and discusses topics such as emotions, the unconscious and emotional regulation in the lives of couples. An exploration of couple reactivity, low-road functioning, and automaticity in relationships explains some of the distress that couples may experience.

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  • Fosha, Diana, Daniel J. Siegel, and Marion Solomon, eds. 2009. The healing power of emotion: Affective neuroscience, development, and clinical practice. New York: Norton.

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    This text is part of the Interpersonal Neurobiology Series by Norton and contains leading researchers and clinicians discussing the role of emotions in psychotherapy. The editors claim that emotions are at the nexus of thought and action, self and other, person and environment, biology and culture. Includes specific therapies that incorporate an understanding of interpersonal neurobiology.

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  • Grawe, Klaus. 2007. Neuropsychotherapy: How the neurosciences inform effective psychotherapy. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

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    The series editor, Bruce Wampold, describes this text as one of the most popular German psychotherapy books. Translated into English, it meticulously describes how neuroscience findings inform modern psychotherapy practice, including a focus on what psychotherapists need to know, neural correlates of mental disorders, and implications for practice. It is heavily research based and offers both basic and advanced content.

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  • Hanson, Rick, and Richard Mendius. 2009. Buddha’s brain: The practical neuroscience of happiness, love, & wisdom. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

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    Buddha’s Brain explores how a knowledge of neuroscience can inform and illuminate contemplative practices. The text explores how Buddhist teachings, supported by scientific discoveries, can help us to understand love, wisdom, and happiness. The authors explore how the brain’s fundamental negativity bias impacts our ability to experience positive emotions and offers suggestions on how to foster positivity in our lives.

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  • Jensen, Eric. 2008. Brain-based learning: The new paradigm of teaching. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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    Brain-based learning is presented as a new paradigm for educators, and the text explores fundamental biology associated with learning, along with a wide array of related topics, including sensory contributions, emotions, teacher communication, nonconscious climate, memory, sense, meaning, brain-compatible classrooms, curriculum, learning assessment, and teaching strategies.

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  • Matto, Holly, Jessica Strolin-Goltzman, and Michelle Ballan, eds. 2013. Neuroscience for Social Work: Current research and practice. New York: Springer.

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    Neuroscience for Social Work: Current Research and Practice is a 2013 text edited by Holly Matto, Jessica Stolin-Goltzman, and Michelle Ballan. It offers 19 chapters on the neuroscientific implications for social work in four areas: generalist social work practice; social work practice in child welfare and education; health and mental health and the area of criminal justice. Topics range from empathy, mirror neurons, meditative dialogues to cultivate compassion and empathy to risk taking in adolescence and the adult criminal justice system and many more.

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  • Montgomery, Arlene. 2013. Neurobiology essentials for clinicians. New York: Norton.

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    The author provides a neuroscientific introduction with a psychodynamic emphasis. The first part of the book presents some neurobiological knowledge infused with examples. The second section looks at applications for adolescents, groups and clinical supervision. The book is distinguished by generous case illustrations, including verbatim excerpts of clinical sessions with notations that offer insights into the thinking and actions of the therapist based on a foundation of neuroscience understanding.

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  • Pliszka, Steven. 2003. Neuroscience for the Mental Health Clinician. New York: Guilford.

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    This text provides fundamental information about neuroscience and how this knowledge informs mental health practitioners. The book is divided into two sections: basic principles of neuroscience and knowledge about specific mental disorders as informed by neuroscience. The text contains numerous illustrations that illuminate the content.

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  • Siegel, Daniel J. 2010. Mindsight: The new science of personal transformation. New York: Bantam.

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    The author uses the perspective of Interpersonal Neurobiology to identify how individuals can transform their lives through learning how to pay attention to the present and developing a perception of the inner world of minds.

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Bibliographies

Given the newness of neuroscience in social work, there are no online bibliographies in this area. The bibliographic sites listed here include both general neuroscience bibliographies and a range of special sites associated with social work interests, such as parenting, education, autism, and ethics. The Committed Parent website includes the Brain Bibliography, which offers parents a comprehensive list of texts that help them understand how neuroscience research can be applied to parenting. Neurodiversity.com has a number of online bibliographies on the site, including Books on Cognitive Psychology, Books on Neuroscience, and Neuropsychology and Autism. They offer information on almost all aspects of autism as well as associated links to relevant resources, including bibliographies on neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and autism and neuroscience. Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz offers the Neuroethics Bibliography: 1985–, which includes citations for books and journals from international sources that discuss various ethical issues associated with neuroscience advances and applications. Origins of Neuroscience in Social Work Practice, provides social workers with a comprehensive list of resources for their clinical practice.

Journals

One journal—the Mindsight Digital Journal—is particularly relevant to social work and neuroscience. This journal integrates a right- and left-brain approach to learning with the inclusion of empirical articles, reflections, photography, poetry, and additional resources. In 2014 the Smith College Studies in Social Work journal published a special edition on social work and neuroscience. Articles focused on the theoretical integration of current neuroscientific information to expand clinical social work practice. Many of the articles provide case examples to highlight the integration of theory and practice (see Bennett and Petrash 2014, Lapides 2014, Montgomery 2014). Miehls and Applegate 2014 introduces the special edition with a review of the brain structure and functions, as well as the importance of relationships and hope from neuroplasticity. Many of the articles focus on the therapist-client relationship. The benefits of therapy through a neuroscience perspective are identified by Cozolino and Santos 2014. Lapides 2014 makes the argument for the therapist to conduct whole-brain therapy with clients. Marks-Tarlow 2014 examines clinical intuition. Other articles are topic-specific within this special edition. Bennett and Petrash 2014 explores substance use disorders. Esprey 2014 discusses how race-based schema can impact therapist-client relationships. Farmer 2014 explores the intersection of psychotropic medications, neurobiology, and mental illness. Arousal issues are examined by Montgomery 2014. Rasmussen and Bliss 2014 speculates on the neurobiological functions that occur within traumatized clients, whereas Zilberstein 2014 specifically looks at trauma with children.

Additional journal articles that are relevant to social work and neuroscience have also been included within this section. Cozolino and Sprokay 2006 makes the neuroscience connection between education and psychotherapeutic change. Carter 2003 asserts that emotion and cognition are directly linked. Fishbane 2007 employs the latest neuroscience research to emphasize the social nature of the brain and how the brain fundamentally influences and is influenced by relationships. Immordino-Yang and Damasio 2007 reminds us that knowledge from neuroscience confirms that learning is not a rational or disembodied process or a lonely one. It is intimately tied into emotions and relationships. Porges 2009 provides a succinct overview of his Polyvagal Theory. Siegel 2006 describes the interpersonal neurobiology approach to psychotherapy, which is the most-researched and well-articulated psychotherapy perspective in the neuroscience area. Schore and Schore 2008 offers a view of attachment that has been updated to include new neuroscience knowledge that has transformed attachment thinking into a theory of regulation. Matto and Strolin-Goltzman 2010 presents a neuroscience-informed, multimodal treatment approach for substance abuse. Teicher 2002 cautions that early trauma in children can lead to more than psychological and social problems; it can also physically alter children’s brains.

  • Bennett, Susanne, and Patricia Petrash. 2014. The neurobiology of substance use disorders: Information for assessment and clinical treatment. In Special issue: Neurobiology and mental health clinical practice: New directions–new challenges. Edited by Dennis Miehls and Jeffrey Applegate. Smith College Studies in Social Work 84:273–291.

    DOI: 10.1080/00377317.2014.923629Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors provide an overview of the substance use disorder (SUD) research on additions (e.g., genetics, dopamine, and cellular signaling), and treatment (e.g., psychopharmacology, programs, and psychotherapy). A clinical case example of Cheryl provides readers with an illustration of neurobiological research into practice.

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    • Carter, Sid. 2003. The nature of feelings and emotion-based learning within psychotherapy and counselling: Neuroscience is putting the heart back into emotion. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling 6.3: 225–241.

      DOI: 10.1080/0967026042000269683Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      The authors indicate that neuroscience research is highlighting the connections among emotion, psychotherapeutic change, and learning. They further emphasize that cognition cannot be separated from emotion and that emotion, thinking, behaving, and learning are all intimately linked.

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      • Codrington, R. 2010. A family therapist’s look into interpersonal neurobiology and the adolescent brain: An interview with Dr. Daniel Siegel. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy 31.3: 285–299.

        DOI: 10.1375/anft.31.3.285Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        The author has an interview with Dr. Daniel Siegel about the “reconstruction zone” in the development of the adolescent brain and its potential impact on parent–child interactions, attachment, and clinical applications for social workers.

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        • Cozolino, Louis J., and Erin N. Santos. 2014. Why we need therapy—and why it works: A neuroscientific perspective. In Special issue: Neurobiology and mental health clinical practice: New directions–new challenges. Edited by Dennis Miehls and Jeffrey Applegate. Smith College Studies in Social Work 84:157–177.

          DOI: 10.1080/00377317.2014.923630Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          The authors describe how the human brain integrates ancient survival networks with contemporary networks through five evolutionary artifacts that may impact psychological well-being (i.e., vital half second, early learning, core shame, suppression of language under stress, and illusion). Therapy works because the brain is social, it changes through neuroplasticity, and the relationship between the social worker and client creates neural and psychic integration. Social workers are “applied neuroscientists” who assist in restructuring the brains of clients.

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          • Cozolino, Louis, and Susan Sprokay. 2006. Neuroscience and adult learning. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 110:11–19.

            DOI: 10.1002/ace.214Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            The authors assert that changes in psychotherapy reflect a particular type of learning and that the fundamentals of learning are the same in a classroom and across the life span. They articulate key principles of learning that are similar in both education and psychotherapy.

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            • Damasio, A. 2001. Fundamental feelings. Nature 413:781.

              DOI: 10.1038/35101669Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              This one-page article provides a concise description of the differences between feelings and emotions.

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              • Esprey, Yvette M. 2014. Casting light on the shadow: Clinical implications of contexualizing racial experience within a neurobiological framework. In Special issue: Neurobiology and mental health clinical practice: New directions–new challenges. Edited by Dennis Miehls and Jeffrey Applegate. Smith College Studies in Social Work 84:350–366.

                DOI: 10.1080/00377317.2014.923631Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                This article explores the integration of relational psychoanalytic and attachment theory within neurobiology to discuss the origins of race-based schema and its impact on client-therapist relationships. It shares ideas on how prejudices, biases, and stereotypes are embedded into the social functioning of both therapist and clients through right- and left-brain processing; however, this can be overcome if right-brain to right-brain therapy occurs.

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                • Farmer, Rosemary L. 2014. Interface between psychotropic medications, neurobiology, and mental illnesses. In Special issue: Neurobiology and mental health clinical practice: New directions–new challenges. Edited by Dennis Miehls and Jeffrey Applegate. Smith College Studies in Social Work 84:255–272.

                  DOI: 10.1080/00377317.2014.923640Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  This article discusses how the biopsychosocial model in social work needs to include integrate information about psychotropic medications, neurobiology, and mental illnesses; however, it has not done so well in the past. The author takes the reader through a brief history of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the integration of medications and neurobiology, and the integration of mental illness and neurobiology.

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                  • Fishbane, Mona De Koven. 2007. Wired to connect: Neuroscience, relationships, and therapy. Family Process 46.3: 395–412.

                    DOI: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2007.00219.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    This is an excellent article that presents fundamental neuroscience knowledge for social workers and emphasizes the essential social nature of the brain, including communication, attachment, self, and other emotional regulation.

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                    • Immordino-Yang, Mary Helen, and Antonio Damasio. 2007. We feel, therefore we learn: The relevance of affective and social neuroscience to education. Mind, Brain, and Education 1.1: 3–10.

                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-228X.2007.00004.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      A seminal paper connecting the process of emotion to the key cognitive processes of learning, attention, memory, decision making, and social functioning. Emotions provide a rudder to guide judgment and action, which is essential to decision making.

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                      • Lapides, Francine. 2014. Working implicitly in couples therapy: Improving right hemisphere affect-regulating capabilities. In Special issue: Neurobiology and mental health clinical practice: New directions–new challenges. Edited by Dennis Miehls and Jeffrey Applegate. Smith College Studies in Social Work 84:237–254.

                        DOI: 10.1080/00377317.2014.923695Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        The article provides a deconstruction of how therapists can conduct a whole-brain activation and functioning with clients. The authors provide a couples vignette of Eleanor and Leonard over three sessions (i.e., sessions 2, 6, and 9) to highlight how conducting whole-brain therapy is achieved in practice.

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                        • Marks-Tarlow, Terry. 2014. The interpersonal neurobiology of clinical intuition. In Special issue: Neurobiology and mental health clinical practice: New directions–new challenges. Edited by Dennis Miehls and Jeffrey Applegate. Smith College Studies in Social Work 84:219–236.

                          DOI: 10.1080/00377317.2014.923712Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          This discussion paper explores an under-researched area in clinical social work: clinical intuition. The author proposes that intuition is the link between theory and practice and can be better understood through the framework of Interpersonal Neurobiology. Client–social worker dyads are relational and embodied; thus, intuition draws upon interpersonal characteristics (e.g., sensory, emotions, and imagination), as well as the embodied experience (e.g., perception, relations, and responding). The author provides a holistic and somatic clinical example, but caution is noted regarding perceiving intuition as fact. The social worker needs to collaborate with the client or obtain additional observations or reflection.

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                          • Matto, Holly C., and Jessica Strolin-Goltzman. 2010. Integrating social neuroscience and social work: Innovations for advancing practice-based research. Social Work 5.2: 147–156.

                            DOI: 10.1093/sw/55.2.147Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            The authors stress the importance of research agendas that combine biology, behavior, and environmental transactions for social work. Using findings from neuroscience, the authors describe the development of a multimodal treatment approach for substance abuse.

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                            • Miehls, Dennis, and Jeffrey Applegate. 2014. Introduction to neurobiology and clinical work. In Special issue: Neurobiology and mental health clinical practice: New directions–new challenges. Edited by Dennis Miehls and Jeffrey Applegate. Smith College Studies in Social Work 84:145–156.

                              DOI: 10.1080/00377317.2014.924707Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              This introductory article to this special edition on neuroscience and social work provides an overview of the brain and the significance of relationship on the brain, and it provides readers with information about the triune brain, right- and left-brain hemispheres, memory, and trauma. The authors also briefly explore the intersection of social work practice and neurobiology and the hope that is provided through neuroplasticity.

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                              • Mindsight Digital Journal.

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                                This quarterly journal provides video, practical applications, and annotated bibliographies on interpersonal neurobiology to its readership.

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                                • Montgomery, Arlene. 2014. Selected neurobiological arousal issues as manifested in a clinical case illustration. In Special issue: Neurobiology and mental health clinical practice: New directions–new challenges. Edited by Dennis Miehls and Jeffrey Applegate. Smith College Studies in Social Work 84:196–218.

                                  DOI: 10.1080/00377317.2014.923690Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  The author provides a review of brain functions and structures in relation to arousal, including autonomic nervous system, polyvagal system, emotions, attachments, and defense mechanisms. A case example of Sabrina who was severely affected by trauma is used to integrate neurobiological understanding into the clinical sessions.

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                                  • Porges, Stephen W. 2009. The polyvagal theory: New insights into adaptive reactions of the autonomic nervous system. Cleveland Clinical Journal of Medicine 76.2: S86–S90.

                                    DOI: 10.3949/ccjm.76.s2.17Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    This article provides an overview of the Polyvagal Theory—immobilization, mobilization, and social communication—that regulates the neural circuits that develop in regards to the social and defensive behaviors within mammals. Note: A more comprehensive review of the polyvagal theory is found in Porges’s book, The Polyvagal Theory (New York: Norton, 2011)

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                                    • Rasmussen, Brian, and Susan Bliss. 2014. Beneath the surface: An exploration of neurobiological alterations in therapists working with trauma. In Special issue: Neurobiology and mental health clinical practice: New directions–new challenges. Edited by Dennis Miehls and Jeffrey Applegate. Smith College Studies in Social Work 84:332–349.

                                      DOI: 10.1080/00377317.2014.923714Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      The authors speculate the neurobiological functions that occur when clients are traumatized (e.g., vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue, shared trauma, and burnout) with a review of the literature and case study. They explore mirror neurons, amygdala, autonomic nervous system, sympathetic nervous system, parasympathetic nervous system, memory, hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, left- and right-brain, defenses, and attachment.

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                                      • Schore, Judith R., and Allan N. Schore. 2008. Modern attachment theory: The central role of affect regulation in development and treatment. Clinical Social Work Journal 36:9–20.

                                        DOI: 10.1007/s10615-007-0111-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        The authors update attachment theory to reflect new neuroscience understanding, which focuses on bodily based processes, interactive regulation, experience-dependent brain maturation, stress, and nonconscious relational transactions. They assert that attachment theory has evolved to become a theory of regulation.

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                                        • Schore, Judith R., and Allan N. Schore. 2014. Regulation theory and affect regulation psychotherapy: A clinical primer. In Special issue: Neurobiology and mental health clinical practice: New directions–new challenges. Edited by Dennis Miehls and Jeffrey Applegate. Smith College Studies in Social Work 84:178–195.

                                          DOI: 10.1080/00377317.2014.923719Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          The authors provide a discussion about the current neuroscientific information and the interpersonal neurobiology change mechanisms that occur within the mother–infant and therapist–client relationships. They propose that neuroscience can help expand clinical interventions strategies for social workers.

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                                          • Siegel, Daniel J. 2006. An interpersonal neurobiology approach to psychotherapy. Psychiatric Annals 36.4: 248–256.

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                                            This article is a road map for understanding the interpersonal neurobiology approach to psychotherapy. It clearly articulates the fundamental goals of psychotherapy and presents the emerging neuroscience research that supports this perspective. Over sixteen books from the Norton series on Interpersonal Neurobiology have been published that reflect this approach.

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                                            • Teicher, Martin H. 2002. Scars that won’t heal: The neurobiology of child abuse. Scientific American 286.3 (March): 68–75.

                                              DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican0302-68Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              The author cites research that supports the view that early maltreatment of children not only affects the psychological and social development of children but during critical periods it physically alters the brain and can leave an indelible imprint on its structure and functioning. Such abuse can create a cascade of molecular and neurobiological changes that may irreversibly alter the neurodevelopment of the child.

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                                              • Zilberstein, Karen. 2014. Trauma’s neurobiological toll: Implications for clinical work with children. In Special issue: Neurobiology and mental health clinical practice: New directions–new challenges. Edited by Dennis Miehls and Jeffrey Applegate. Smith College Studies in Social Work 84:292–302.

                                                DOI: 10.1080/00377317.2014.924251Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                This article reviews the current research on children who have experienced trauma. The author explores the importance of attachment on child development to help children deal with stressful events later in life. Further discussion is on neurobiology and the impacts of trauma, traumatic stress responses, neuroplasticity, and treatment (such as assessment, interpersonal relationships, neural networks, and developmental consideration).

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                                                Origins of Neuroscience in Social Work Practice

                                                Saleebey 1992 offers one of the earliest challenges to social work to incorporate a biological understanding in working with people. Johnson 2001 alerts social workers to the importance of understanding addictions from a neuroscience perspective. Applegate and Shapiro 2005 uses the emerging knowledge from neurobiology to highlight new perspectives on attachment for the clinical social worker. Farmer 2009 uses recent neuroscience findings to explore their implications for social workers in areas such as attachment, mental health, and addictions.

                                                • Applegate, Jeffrey S., and Janet R. Shapiro. 2005. Neurobiology for clinical social work: Theory and practice. New York: Norton.

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                                                  The emphasis in this book is on the neurobiology of attachment and its implications for knowledge building and clinical social work practice. A special focus is on affect regulation, or how individuals regulate emotion and affect expression. Includes introductory information about the brain, memory, affect, and attachment and looks at infant mental health, exploring some applications of neurobiological knowledge in this area.

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                                                • Farmer, Rosemary L. 2009. Neuroscience in social work practice: The missing link. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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                                                  Includes attachment perspectives and explores trauma, child neglect, psychotherapy, psychotropic medications, and addictions. Farmer notes that social workers have not traditionally seen the “social” as having anything to do with the brain. She argues that a neuroscientific perspective is a “missing link” for social workers that needs to be added to a transactional model so the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual can be understood in interaction with each other (p. 44).

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                                                • Johnson, Harriette C. 2001. Neuroscience in social work practice and education. Journal of Social Work Practice and the Addictions 1.3: 88–102.

                                                  DOI: 10.1300/J160v01n03_06Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  Johnson asserts that specialists in substance abuse, addictions, and co-occurring diagnoses are beginning to view these problems in less of a dualistic, mind-body way and more from an integrative biopsychosocial perspective. She argues that the neurobiological perspective is essential for social workers to have a biopsychosocial understanding of these problems.

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                                                  • Saleebey, Dennis. 1992. Biology’s challenge to social work: Embodying the person-in-environment perspective. Journal of Social Work 37.2: 112–118.

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                                                    Saleebey highlights many client issues that involve the body and the brain, and he discusses utilizing “body wisdom” to inform practice. Argues that social workers need to ally with the enormous restorative powers of the body, which includes brain plasticity.

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                                                    Policy

                                                    Given the fundamental nature of neuroscience, there are policy implications of neuroscience research that would interest social workers in a wide variety of areas. For example, neuroscience findings in infant and child brain development point to the importance of the very first years and reinforce the need that children receive timely, adequate, and appropriate nutrition, stimulation, challenge, and security. This has considerable implications for early childhood programs and school nutritional initiatives. Blending neuroscience with attachment research highlights how early caregivers who provide relationships characterized by consistency, security, and emotional attunement help foster children with more secure attachments. These critical attachment relationships are essential in helping the brains of infants and children develop physically, psychologically, and socially. This has implications for child welfare programs, parenting initiatives, and antipoverty programs. Emerging neuroscience research on new memory drugs may help reduce the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder for victims while raising other ethical issues, such as designer drugs for memory enhancement. An important resource in the policy area is the Society for Neuroscience. This organization addresses the significant educational and advocacy issues evolving from the research in neuroscience. The society’s website contains material that documents public policy work in the United States and includes national and international initiatives in public policy and neuroscience.

                                                    Teaching

                                                    Most of the few social work authors writing about neuroscience or neurobiology underscore the importance of teaching social workers about neuroscience and neurobiology. Social workers with more knowledge of the biological will be able to integrate this with the psychological and social to better embrace the biopsychosocial perspective that is the hallmark of the profession. There is also, however, a vibrant educational literature that employs developments from neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and related fields to inform education and educational strategies that can be useful to social work educators. This brain-based or brain-compatible learning field has been in development since the late 20th century, and there are numerous texts that provide detailed information and strategies based on much of the evidence that has been emerging. There is another compelling reason for social work practitioners and researchers to become familiar with the literature in the brain-based education area. Successful teaching and effective clinical practice both involve neural changes within the student or client. For therapy and teaching to be effective, clients and students need to experience physical change in their neural circuits. This is the nature of learning, whether its goal is for the person to become happier or to master a new task. Many of the conditions that foster optimal learning in the classroom are similar to the conditions that promote change in the therapy session. The articles cited in this section present information that helps readers understand how the brain works and how teaching can be tailored to maximize learning and neural change. Caine, et al. 2005 distills a considerable amount of brain research into twelve teaching principles to optimize learning. Cozolino 2013 illustrates how an understanding of the nature of our social brain can be used to improve both schools and teaching methods. Further, Cozolino 2014 provides knowledge from social-affective neuroscience and the biology of attachment to help teachers understand the importance of social bonding and attachment in learning. Johnson and Taylor 2006 focuses on neuroscience and adult learning. Materna 2007 is written for educators and is one of the few texts that focuses on adult learning. Sousa 2006 contains a significant number of sections termed the “Practitioner’s Corner” that translate the research into specialized teaching strategies. Sprenger 2007 offers teaching strategies based on neuroscience findings coupled with the author’s extensive personal experiences as an educator. Sylwester 2005 is a handbook of brain terms and cognitive processes fundamental to learning. Wolfe 2001 presents an informational processing model of brain functioning with special reference to attention, emotion, and rehearsal, and it provides a tool kit of brain-compatible strategies for teachers.

                                                    • Caine, R., G. Caine, C. McClintic, and K. Klimek. 2005. 12 brain/mind learning principles in action: The fieldbook for making connections, teaching, and the human brain. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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                                                      This text is characterized as a field book for making connections, teaching, and the human brain. It employs twelve research-based brain-mind principles for teaching and learning.

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                                                    • Cozolino, Louis. 2013. The social neuroscience of education: Optimizing attachment and learning in the classroom. New York: Norton.

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                                                      The author focuses on how an understanding of neuroscience and especially the dynamics of attachment and learning can help explain many of the problems faced by schools, teachers, and students in providing quality instruction and successful learning. Using social neuroscience and the concept of the social brain, he explains how essential it is to provide environments that foster emotional attunement and secure attachments. These environments promote safety, curiosity, and optimal learning. Specific strategies and case examples are provided that illustrate how schools and teachers can foster optimal learning environments.

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                                                    • Cozolino, Louis. 2014. Attachment-based teaching: Creating a tribal classroom. New York: Norton.

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                                                      Cozolino builds on his earlier book, The Social Neuroscience of Education (Cozolino 2013), and focuses more specifically on helping teachers to understand how to build secure attachment relationships with students that optimize learning. This emphasis on emotional attunement, social bonding, and rapport helps to build “tribal” classrooms and school communities.

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                                                    • Johnson, Sandra, and Kathleen Taylor, eds. 2006. The neuroscience of adult learning. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 110. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.

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                                                      This edited text contains a collection of articles from leading authors that focus on fundamentals of neuroscience and how these inform adult educators. Topics include brain functioning and adult learning, meaning and emotion, fear and learning, and brain self-repair in psychotherapy and its implications for education.

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                                                    • Materna, Laurie. 2007. Jump start the adult learner: How to engage and motivate adults using brain-compatible strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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                                                      This book is written for adults and focuses on how to engage and motivate adults using brain-compatible strategies. It features a useful section on metacognitive learning strategies, including diagrams and forms that can be used directly with adult students to motivate and stimulate thinking and remembering.

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                                                    • Sousa, David A. 2006. How the brain learns. 3d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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                                                      This book for educators contains excellent fundamental content on the brain and the process of learning and teaching. It is highly illustrated and presented in an easy-to-comprehend style.

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                                                    • Sprenger, Marilee B. 2007. Becoming a “wiz” at brain-based teaching: How to make every year your best year. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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                                                      Using the metaphor of the Wizard of Oz, the author offers some fundamental content targeted at practicing educators.

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                                                    • Sylwester, Robert. 2005. How to explain a brain: An educator’s handbook of brain terms and cognitive processes. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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                                                      The author presents alphabetized entries of neuroscience terms in a way that is useful for educators.

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                                                    • Wolfe, Patricia. 2001. Brain matters: Translating research into classroom practice. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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                                                      This text provides a primer on brain anatomy and physiology and then focuses on how the brain learns, concluding with a section on how research into neuroscience and related fields informs actual classroom practice.

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                                                    Training and Education for Social Workers

                                                    Introductory educational programs and courses about neurobiology have been developed for social workers as well as how it can be applied to their practice. These hands-on courses, such as the Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) certificate at Portland State University or web-based learning from HarvardX or the Mindsight Institute, transform the works cited under Introductory Works into dialogues between knowledge creators and knowledge users. Learners can expect to obtain information about the brain structures and functionality, as well as how to implement it into their own practices from cell to society. An online community of individuals at the Global Association of Interpersonal Neurobiology (GAINS) also provides networking opportunities.

                                                    Children and Families

                                                    In the 2000s, there has been a growing interest in applying neuroscience and neurobiology to child and parent interactions. The development of brain-based parenting practices has started to emerge within the research. The texts cited within this section present information that helps readers understand how the brain works in relation to parenting. These texts translate neuroscientific research into clinical applications for social workers to use within their practices, but also offer practical, everyday suggestions for parents and youth to use themselves. The overarching theme among all of these texts is the neurological benefits and need for parents (or caregivers) to emotionally connect with their children—especially when challenging behaviors or situations emerge—and then redirect the unwanted behaviors (Siegel and Payne Bryson 2012; Siegel and Payne Bryson 2014). The texts predominately focus on parent and child interactions, so Siegel 2014 adds to the parent knowledge by providing a better understanding of the adolescent brain and how social workers, parents, and even adolescents can learn from the adolescent years in order to cultivate a more social and emotional human being.

                                                    Readers can expect to learn more about the structures of the brain and the processes of the mind within the context of the parenting relationship. The texts provide “tools” for both social workers and parents to connect more effectively with their children through a brain-based framework. These “tools” are suggestions, not prescribed parenting techniques. As Siegel and Payne Bryson 2014 suggested, these “tools” add to the parents’ “toolbox” of resources to discipline one child, within one specific moment. A same or different child and a different moment may require different resources. Additionally, the context of the situation and the child’s perspective, age, developmental stage, emotional style, and temperament all need to be considered as well. Parenting is all about connection, so the authors provide some “tools” that can be implemented into practice. Hughes and Baylin 2012 provides social workers with information on how they can apply their neuroscientific caregiving formula PACE—(P)layfulness, (A)cceptance, (C)uriosity, and (E)mpathy—within clinical practice, and a summary of nine strategies for brain-based parenting. Siegel 2014 approaches adolescence from the perspectives of the teenager, parent, and helping professional in a conversational way that highlights new knowledge from neuroscience and innovative perspectives from Interpersonal Neurobiology. A major message is that adolescence should not be seen simply as a transitional stage that teenagers need to work through, but as a transformative period and an important foundation for adult mental health and well-being. Siegel and Hartzell 2003 provides practice exercises for parents and additional references resources that can be used to explore topics further. Siegel and Payne Bryson 2014 provides further resources, including a “Connect and Redirect Refrigerator Sheet” of the No-Drama Discipline framework and “Our Discipline Approach in a Nutshell,” that can be shared with caregivers.

                                                    • Hughes, D. A., and J. Baylin. 2012. Brain-based parenting: The neuroscience of caregiving for healthy attachment. New York: Norton.

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                                                      This evidence-informed book provides an overview of the brain and parenting within five parental domains—approach system, reward system, child reading system, meaning making system, and executive system. Building upon this knowledge, the authors propose a neuroscientific caregiving formula PACE: (P)layfulness, (A)cceptance, (C)uriosity, and (E)mpathy.

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                                                    • National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. 2005. Excessive stress disrupts the architecture of the developing brain: Working paper #3.

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                                                      This working paper explores the impacts of chronic stress on the child’s developing brain, such as rewiring of neural circuits, adrenaline production, cortisol, gene activation, and social supports. Misrepresentations of neuroscientific research and the gap between policy and practice highlight some of the key challenges to brain-based information.

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                                                      • Siegel, D. J. 2014. Brainstorm: The power and purpose of the teenage brain. New York: Tarcher/Penguin.

                                                        DOI: 10.1037/e651052013-077Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        A major message of this text is that building facilitative relationships with teenagers is central and that such relationships need to be characterized by connection rather than correction. Rather than immediately trying to fix things or problem-solve, parent–teenager relations first should focus on establishing strong, collaborative relationships characterized by mindsight. Secure attachment, a core concept in this book, is achieved through open and responsive relationships characterized by mindsight. Parents are able to create a secure and safe relationship in which children are able to be seen and soothed. This changes the child’s brain circuitry in a way that builds self-control, positive self-esteem, and a belief that others will be supportive.

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                                                        • Siegel, D. J., and M. Hartzell. 2003. Parenting from the inside out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive. New York: Tarcher/Penguin.

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                                                          This book provides new insights into parenting through intrapersonal and interpersonal approaches. The authors talk about a variety of topics through an informal dialogue with the reader. Some of the topics explored are: memory (implicit, explicit, and autobiographical), development of narratives (stories), emotions (primary emotion, initial orientation, appraisal and arousal, and categorical emotion), communication approaches, attachment styles (secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure-anxious/ambivalent, and insecure-disorganized), integration (“high road” and “low road”), connection and disconnection (rupture and repair), and mindsight (intentionally paying attention, in the moment).

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                                                        • Siegel, D. J., and T. Payne Bryson. 2012. The whole-brain child: 12 revolutionary strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind. New York: Bantam.

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                                                          This book has been translated into seventeen different languages and provides twelve brain-based strategies that parents can implement when interacting with their children. The authors provide examples of how parents can rephrase certain everyday situations, along with providing education around the brain, mind, and relationships. The authors explore a variety of topics, including vertical and horizontal integration, implicit and explicit memory, mindsight, wheel of awareness, focused attention, emotions, empathy, and connection. These topics are also illustrated with drawings that compare and contrast the differences between parenting and brain-based parenting techniques.

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                                                        • Siegel, D. J., and T. Payne Bryson. 2014. No-drama discipline: The whole-brain way to calm the chaos and nurture your child’s developing mind. New York: Bantam.

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                                                          Building upon their 2012 work, The Whole-Brain Child, the authors explore discipline by reframing it within the context of neuroscience research to be about teaching a child, and not about punishment. First, parents need to connect with their child and then REDIRECT—Reduce words, Embrace emotions, Describe, don’t preach, Involve your child in the discipline, Reframe a no into a yes with conditions, Emphasize the positive, Creatively approach the situation, and Teach mindsight tools—by following the 1-2-3 discipline approach which activates the upstairs brain (prefrontal cortex), instead of the downstairs brain (amygdala) of both the parent and child.

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