Making the Connection: Brain-based Coaching Intro
Friday, June 8, 2012 12 Comments
ACO Conference Binder 2012
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC
Blog augmented Speaker Content – Part I
Making the Connection:
EVEN if you understand the impact of an ADDer’s unreliable Prefrontal Cortex, do you know how to tweak your coaching to reflect what you know?
How do the brain’s OTHER areas relate to ADD challenges — and how we need to massage our technique so our clients are able to change can’t into can?
In the articles of this series (blog-edited “reprints” of my speaker’s content published in the ACO 2012 Conference Binder), you will learn what’s going on and what it means – in plain English – and take a new look at ADD Coaching competencies in light of brain-based understanding.
Understanding this information has the potential to kick your coaching skills into outer space!
Readers of this series will:
1. Be introduced to the regulatory responsibilities of 4-6 primary areas of the brain that are currently believed to contribute to ADD characteristics, and how the inter-relationship of those areas combine to create the ADD challenges and strengths described in the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, published by the American Psychological Association)
2. Come to a new understanding of the “conductor” role of the Prefrontal Cortex, along with why it is not optimally effective to focus ONLY on the PFC in our attempt to understand or coach ADD challenges.
3. Begin to develop a set of competency-linked skills specifically tailored to compensate for the differences in the ADD brain-style, allowing you to begin to come to a brain-based understanding of how, where and why ADD Coaching and vanilla coaching differ.
“Vanilla” coaching, unflavored by techniques tailored for those with Attentional Spectrum differences, is the established coaching technique used by coaches who are not trained to work with ADD; older technology designed to be effective with the neurotypical brain-style,
Brain Basics: The Cliff Notes
Personality, talents and abilities, emotions, intellectual prowess – and consciousness itself – are products of the biological function of the brain.
Your brain is a 3-pound organ with a consistency not unlike thick pudding, composed of a right and left hemisphere. It is made up of cells and micro-components that are fundamentally different from most of the cells in the rest of the body, with names that may be unfamiliar outside the coffee houses and neighborhood bars of the neuroscience crowd.
We are going to concentrate on the components that are most important to us as ADD Coaches, in just enough detail that we can begin to understand how certain areas of the brain combine to produce our client’s struggles, so that we can augment our coaching skills to help them move on to wild success.
Say hello to your CNS
In the articles of this series, you’re going to meet your CNS –the “brainy” half of your nervous system. She’s in constant communication with her brawny sibling, the PNS (Peripheral Nervous System) – by the way, her C stands for Central.
The PNS, who won’t be with us much in this series, consists of all of the nerves that are not part of the brain or the spinal cord:
12 pairs of cranial nerves, 31 pairs of spinal nerves, nerve plexus,
and the spinal and autonomic ganglia associated with them.
We’re going to focus on CNS because understanding what she does is
going to help us understand why ADD Coaches need to do what WE do.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the PNS is not important — or “peripheral” to your sense of Self — that’s not true. However, the part of the Nervous System that can be addressed with COACHING is, primarily, the CNS.
Although we often refer to our brain “wiring” (as in, “neurons that fire together, wire together” – and vice versa), neurons communicate with each other through an electro-chemical relay race.
And that’s what makes the conscious coach’s world go ’round!
Neurons — The brain’s voltmeters
A human being is a bioelectric organism. In every cell in our bodies there is a tiny difference in electrical charge between the inside and the outside of the cell wall (aka cell membrane).
A neuron is a specialized cell that can detect these small electrical charges and use them to begin a chemical cascade that will transmit those charges to other cells.
- Inside each neuron is an active “biological pump”
that pushes positively charged particles out of the
cell, while the cell membrane keeps negatively
charged particles inside the cell.
- At rest, a neuron is negatively charged:
75 millivolts less than outside of the cell
(a millivolt is a thousandth of a volt).
- When a neuron is stimulated
(at synaptic sites – aka synapses),
it quickly raises the electrical charge inside the cell.
- This reverses the charge differential – meaning that the charge inside the cell is now greater than the charge outside the cell membrane.
That change fires the starting gun for an electro-chemical relay race.
In addition to a nucleus, neurons (aka “nerve cells”) have long, thin, carrot-root looking fibers called dendrites as well as a long fiber “bridge” called an axon.
What’s an Axon?
An axon is a bit like a lamp cord — it carries current and it is often sheathed in an insulating material called the myelin sheath.
An axon (also called a nerve fiber) can be up to three feet long, carrying impulses from, say, your spinal cord to your big toe.
That signal needs to get there FAST– fast enough to allow another relay to send messages that move your hand to your foot — quickly enough to swat that pesky mosquito that started the relay races in the first place!
So you know the voltage has to travel much faster than household current.
A heavy myelin sheath helps information travel distances quickly.
Although a great many axons have no sheathing at all, the more quickly information must travel (meaning the more necessary rapid communication and feedback are to the survival of the organism), the thicker the myelin sheath.
At a certain point (+50 millivolts) that “biological pump” inside the neuron’s nucleus pushes the positively charged particles out of the cell along the axon, info on its way to some other neuron which will take its turn relaying the electro-chemical message – and the beat goes on!
Axons vs. Dendrites
Most nerve cells have one axon, but some can have up to 100,000 dendrites, connecting to other neurons – primarily at synaptic sites. The connection is accomplished neurochemically, using one or the other of about 60 neurotransmitters (depending on how you count and who’s counting). That’s how neurons pass notes!
Each neuron could potentially be communicating across
one hundred thousand synapses – in patterns of connections
that continue to change and evolve through-out the life of the brain.
And THAT’s the great news for ADD Coaches and their clients!
Since the amazing strides made during The Decade of The Brain, scientists are learning more and more about the brain every single day, throwing out old information as they learn more about what’s really going on in that “black box” inside our skulls.
It is incumbent upon us, as Professional Coaches who work with clients with brain-based differences, to keep up with the science!
MORE TO COME
Stay tuned – I will be posting all of my speakers content from the 2012 ACO Conference – editing to take advantage of the chance to add content I had to delete to fit within space constraints, and adding links to provide background context, illustrations and additional information. There will also be a few resources that I did NOT share at the conference that those of you who stick with the series will LOVE me for sharing – leave me comments, likes and gold stars or I may change my mind ::grin::
As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Brain-based Resources series – or any new posts on this blog – give your name and email to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too)
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Attribution: graphics not otherwise attributed, are courtesy of
Wikipedia, under the Creative Commons License
Articles in this Series
(links click ONLY once the article has posted – active links turn red on mouseover)
- Making the Connection: Brain-based Coaching Intro
- Brain-based Overview (part 2 in the series)
- Lessons from the TBI Communiy (TBI-part 1)
- Gathering the Tribe: Characteristics and Challenges (TBI-2)
- TBI Specifics — Overlaps with ADD (TBI-part 3)
- Comparing ADD Affect to Brain Part Imbalances
- Throwing down the Gauntlet: challenge to professionals
- Brain-Based References: Books on Mind and Brain
- Brain-Based Resources: Blogs & Websites
- Brain-Based References: Attentional Spectrum Books
- Booklist from the original ADD Coach Training
- Glossary of Terms from this Series
- Internet Quiz on content
Related Articles on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
- What ARE Executive Functions?
- Brain-based Coaching Paradigms
- Got Memory (Part I)
- ADD Overview-101 (first in a series)
- Brand New Brain-based resource
Related Articles around the ‘net
- Paralysed rats on ‘incredible’ road to recovery (abc.net.au)
- Social Interactions and Brain Cell Connections (my.psychologytoday.com)
- Paralyzed Man Regains Use Of Hands After Having Nerves Rewired (singularityhub.com)
- Revealing the Stars of Brain Adaptability (neurosciencenews.com)
- Quest for the Connectome –
- Unlocking a major secret of the brain: Researchers uncover crucial link between hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (medicalxpress.com)
- Brain images predict how smart you are (futurity.org)
- Brain areas cooperate to keep us ‘proper’ (futurity.org)