The Neurobiology of Personal Transformation

It was once the long-held belief that the brain itself and it’s connective pathways were subject to little change after a certain point in a child’s development. This had implications for both therapists and also clients seeking personal transformation, because it suggested that the brain itself would biologically restrict the aspects and degrees of change a person would be able to undergo, especially as they got older. Viewed from this perspective, patterned responses to stress for example, conditioned in childhood, supported by wiring also laid down at the same time, would be very difficult to change in adulthood.

Research conducted by Dr Daniel Siegal and his contemporaries, in the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) (also coined by Siegal) has begun to reveal however, that we do have the power to re-wire and change our brains across our lifespan and that the primary unit in which this change occurs is the relationship. Their research suggests that while much of how we understand the world and ourselves is initially constructed through our experiences with our parents when young, that this can be re-shaped through relationships we form in the future and also mindfulness-based techniques. This has shed new light on the power of the therapist-client relationship to bring about transformation, and also increased our awareness of why this is possible and what is happening on neurobiological level that actually underpins and helps to anchor these changes. Since then, Siegal has also developed a more concrete definition of what emotional well-being constitutes for individuals today and importantly, what this looks like on a brain level and how we can begin to shift our brains and those of our children towards greater wellness.



For a list of articles as well as recommended reading by Daniel Siegal, you can visit his website at . Courses for practitioners, educators and parents interested in learning more are also available at the centre he has founded in California , The Mindsight Institute, at

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