Why are our Early Learning years so important? what does it have to do with Counselling?
The Power Of Early Learning in Counselling
What is the power of Early learning in counselling why is it important? Understanding how the brain develops can help us understand why counselling works. We were all babies once.
Much of a babies brain is developed after birth. Approximately 90% of brain growth happens before nursery. At birth, the average baby’s brain is about a quarter of the size of the average adult brain. During the first year is doubles in size. It keeps growing to about 80% of adult size by a child is aged aged 3. By the age of 5 a child’s brain is nearly fully grown.
Development of a Babies Brain
A newborn baby has all of the brain cells (neuron’s) they’ll have for the rest of their life, but it’s the connections between these cells that really make the brain work. Brain connections enable us to move, think, communicate and do every action or thought. The early childhood years are crucial for making these connections. At least one million new neural connections (synapses) are made every second, more than at any other time in life. So when a client arrives in therapy they are bringing these childhood, unconscious experiences with them. They have been carrying them since childhood.
Faster Older Structures
Its the fast/older structures within the brain develop first during childhood (remember we talked about them in part 1) Therefore, the first few years of life (beginning in the womb) have a disproportionate impact on the development of the brain.
The early years present the best opportunity for a child’s brain to develop the connections they need to be healthy, capable, successful adults. The connections needed for many important, higher-level abilities like motivation, self-regulation, problem solving and communication are formed in these early years. Or not formed in some cases.
How Brain Connections Are Made
Starting from birth, children develop brain connections through their everyday experiences. They’re built through positive interactions with their parents and carers. A young child’s daily experiences determine which brain connections develop and which will last for a lifetime. The amount and quality of care, stimulation and interaction they receive in their early years makes all the difference. You can learn more about brain architecture and how early experiences affect brain development from Harvard University’s Centre on the Developing Child.
Childhood memories – how this can effect us as adults.
From birth, young children serve up invitations to engage with their parents and other adult carers. This “serve and return” process is fundamental to the wiring of the brain. By the time we develop self awareness, we have already been programmed by early experience and assume these to be true.
The Task of Therapy
My aim as a therapist would be to help clarify suggested or implied but not ever clearly said “memories” – by putting a narrative to these unconscious experiences. By doing this symptoms, such as seemingly self destructive behaviours can be viewed as implicit memories – rather than pathology, being a bad person or stupidity even.