Deep Brain Learning: Pathways to Potential with Challenging Youth

Published by Starr Commonwealth and Circle of Courage
Published by Starr Commonwealth and Circle of Courage

“A cutting-edge, reader-friendly synthesis of cognitive neuroscience, positive psychology and the classic truths of human development…..astonishingly creative.” John C. Gibbs, Ph.D., Professor of Developmental Psychology, The Ohio State University

Deep Brain Learning: Pathways to Potential with Challenging Youth

A widely acclaimed new book, Deep Brain Learning, Pathways to Potential with Challenging Youth, examines the science behind the developing brain to confirm what we believe: our brains are wired to respond to community and relationship.  The book offers compelling, evidence-based research and real-life examples to point out what works—and what doesn’t—in creating long-term change in troubled youth.

“Traditional programs that modify superficial behavior will never give you anything more than superficial change,” says co-author Larry Brendtro, former president of Starr Commonwealth and now President of The Resilience Academy. Brendtro, a licensed psychologist, wrote the book along with Starr president and CEO Martin Mitchell and Starr’s Executive Vice President Herman McCall.

Today’s advances in brain science offer conclusive proof that the human brain is predisposed to respond to attachment—or the lack of it. “The brain doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel,” says Brendtro.  Instead, he says, the brain’s tendency is to look for things that support what it already believes and discard the rest. If you are a child who has experienced abuse and neglect, for example, that’s the lens through which you will view everything and everyone whether the threat is there or not. “Kids who are struggling don’t need a new way to act,” says Brendtro. “They need a new way to think.”

The key, say the authors, is in creating powerful environments where kids are treated with dignity and respect by adults who truly believe in them. With a child who constantly “pushes buttons” that can be difficult. “Many of the kids we see are using strategies that work for them, as negative as they may seem,” says Brendtro. “Our job is to give them new strategies.”  To do that, he says, you have to look at problems as opportunities to learn instead of obstacles to overcome.

Science and technology have reaffirmed what Starr psychologist Dr. Jim Longhurst calls “the tried and true.” As Longhurst points out, “People who work with kids knew in their hearts that certain things worked when the relationship was there,” he says. “But it’s always been hard to identify and quantify what is actually happening in that relationship. Deep Brain Learning is helping us bridge that knowledge gap with a look at the science behind these truths.”

 To order a copy of Deep Brain Learning, visit or call 800-647-5244.


One thought on “Deep Brain Learning: Pathways to Potential with Challenging Youth

  1. Pingback: Deep Brain Learning « Little Blue House on the Hill

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