teen questioning

By Kristin Kleppe, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist, Orange County Health Psychologists, Inc.

Of all the questions we fear our children might ask us, “Hey Mom, what’s my amygdala?” is probably not one of them. Yet understanding this part of the brain prepares a child to manage their emotions and behavior for an entire lifetime. This makes it one of the most important conversations you can have with your kids.

Here’s one way to think about it: As a society, we devote tremendous resources to giving kids sex education, but don’t give them the brain education to go with it. So, imagine having a sexual encounter as a teen, for example, without being able to properly deal with amygdala-induced anxiety, fear, and aggression. It could be disastrous.

By Kristin Kleppe, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist, Orange County Health Psychologists, Inc.

The longer I am in practice in clinical psychology, the more I appreciate the importance of psychologists learning about the physical body as they endeavor to heal the mind or spirit. I often hear people complain about medical doctors who conceptualize cases from only the biological or physical and not understanding how the physical body is impacted by depression, anxiety, stress and interpersonal relationships. In other words, we want our medical doctors to practice from a “biopsychosocial” model. When I was on faculty at UC Irvine, in the Department of Family Medicine, part of my job was to train residents and medical students on the biopsychosocial model. Many family medicine residents were truly gifted in being able to conceptualize cause and effect – and healing – from this model and others struggled with it.