Role of Cognitive Neuroscience in New Age Psychotherapies for Adolescents

Role of Cognitive Neuroscience in New Age Psychotherapies for Adolescents

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-9983-2.ch018
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Adolescents undergo significant developmental changes in their brain structure and function during this period. The adolescent brain is characterized by ongoing neurodevelopment, with dynamic changes in neural networks and cognitive processes. Adolescents may experience challenges in various aspects of their neurocognitive functioning, including emotion regulation, decision-making, impulse control, attention, and cognitive flexibility. Neurocognitive therapies refer to therapeutic approaches that target the cognitive and neural processes underlying mental health and behavioral issues. Advances in cognitive neuroscience research have provided insights into how the brain processes information, regulates emotions, and supports cognitive functions, which can inform the development and refinement of new age therapies for adolescents. The integration of cognitive neuroscience principles into new age therapies for adolescents can provide a unique and promising approach to promoting mental health and wellbeing in this population.
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Adolescence is a transitional period between childhood and adulthood where individuals experience significant changes in their lives (Lenz, 2001). It is a time of rapid physical, emotional, and cognitive development, where adolescents start to establish their identity, form new relationships, and make important life decisions. While this is an exciting period for many, it can also be a time of significant stress and challenges, particularly for those who experience mental health issues. Adolescents often struggle with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, self- harmand other mental health conditions that can have long-term consequences on their lives. Unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, drinking and illegal drug use are frequently initiated during adolescence, and associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and pose importance to public health issues (Otto,2021). Many mental health illnesses begin in adolescence and add to the current disease load in young people and later life. More than half of adult mental illnesses begin before the age of 18. Students who have mental health problems in school have poor school adjustment, reduced concentration, low achievement, problematic social relationships, and a higher rate of health risk behaviours such as substance use, school dropout, and expulsion.

Nonpharmacological treatment approaches, primarily psychotherapy and counselling are critical component of treatment for adolescents with mental health issues. However, traditional psychotherapy approaches have been effective in treating many mental health conditions, but they often fail to address the neurocognitive underpinnings of these conditions (Sorscher,2020). Cognitive neuroscience has provided a better understanding of the brain mechanisms involved in mental health disorders (Belcher,2021), leading to the development of new age therapies that can better address adolescents' specific needs.

This chapterhighlights the new age psychotherapies for adolescents in the backdrop of the unique developmental needs of adolescents, the gaps in traditional psychotherapy approaches, the neurocognitive underpinnings of adolescent mental health issues, and the integration of specific therapies that target these neurocognitive needs. Finally, the chapter presents case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of these therapies and highlights the importance of a multidisciplinary approach for treatmentof adolescents with mental health issues.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a goal-oriented psychotherapeutic approach that focuses on identifying and modifying negative thought patterns and behaviors. It is used to address a wide range of psychological issues, including anxiety, depression, and phobias.

Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy: Mindfulness-based psychotherapy is an approach that incorporates mindfulness techniques and practices, such as meditation and deep awareness, into traditional psychotherapeutic methods. It helps individuals develop mindfulness skills to manage stress, emotions, and improve mental well-being.

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a therapeutic approach that involves conversations between a trained therapist and a client. It aims to address emotional and psychological issues, improve mental health, and facilitate personal growth and self-awareness.

Virtual Reality Therapy: Virtual reality therapy is a therapeutic approach that employs immersive virtual reality environments to treat various psychological and behavioral issues. It allows individuals to confront and manage their fears or challenges in a controlled, virtual setting.

Adolescence: Adolescence is the transitional stage of development that typically occurs between childhood and adulthood, marked by physical, psychological, and social changes. It encompasses the teenage years and is a critical period for identity formation and growth.

Neuropsychological Need: Neuropsychological needs refer to the specific requirements and support that individuals with cognitive, emotional, or behavioral challenges require addressing or managing their conditions effectively. This may involve assessments, interventions, or accommodations.

Cognitive Neuroscience: Cognitive neuroscience is a multidisciplinary field that explores the relationship between the brain's neural processes and cognitive functions like perception, memory, language, and decision-making. It seeks to understand how the brain supports cognitive processes.

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