Liza Hinchey is a Limited Licensed Professional Counselor (LLPC) in private practice at Trinity Family Counseling Center. Liza completed dual Master’s degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Art Therapy from Wayne State University, and works with individuals, families, and groups across a range of presenting issues.
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change over the course of our lives, and is one of the most helpful concepts to grasp in order to understand how therapy works.
Imagine your current ways of thinking as paths in the woods. Whenever a certain belief about yourself or the world originated, that pathway was not yet worn in—but after years of “walking” that path, the ground became worn and easy to travel. Our brains create many paths like this throughout our lives, for better or worse. Sometimes the beliefs that created a path are rooted in self-compassion—but at other times they might involve self-doubt or self-hatred.
In these cases, we can take advantage of the brain’s ability to forge new pathways and create healthier ways of thinking. Starting a new path with a more helpful thought process isn’t always easy at first. It’s most likely covered in brambles, complicated by tree branches, and full of confusing twists and turns.
But, the more you practice walking this new path, the more your footsteps will wear a clear trail through the woods. And by practicing walking on the new path, the old pathways (of self-hate, insecurity, shame, etc.) will start to fade as the brambles creep back and the forest swallows them up again. You might come across one of them again one day. You might even start to walk down it. But it will be weaker now, while your new pathways of self-love will be strong and clear.