Executive Functioning Evaluations and Counseling in Reading, PA
Executive functioning is a new buzz word in the educational world and mental health field. But is it a real thing or passing trend? Call a Thriveworks Reading-Wyomissing counselor to find out more information and to help you decide if you or your child has executive functioning deficits.
What is Executive Functioning?
Neuropsychologists have been studying executive functioning for many years, however with new neuroimaging techniques, research has increased in the past decade. There has been much confusion and questions about what exactly executive functioning is because there are many theories. It is a complex construct which makes it very frustrating. Basically executive functions are a part of the neural circuit that make up the frontal lobe and in a nutshell, it is the multiple directive capacities of the brain that cue other parts of the brain to do the work. A metaphor that the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University used was “Having executive function in the brain is like having an air traffic control system at a busy airport to manage the arrivals and departures of dozens of planes on multiple runways.”
Executive functioning develops over a lifetime. However, because executive functions are developmental in nature, there can be maturational lags and delays. There can also be disruptions in the neural circuits due to injury, illness, or even aging that can cause many executive functioning problems or deficits.
How Do I Know If I Have Executive Functioning Deficits?
There are many signs and symptoms of executive dysfunction. Some people have problems with attention, impulsivity, inhibition, organizing, planning, prioritizing, initiating, shifting, working memory, or with managing emotions. In fact, George McClosky from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine proposed that there are about 33 different executive functions (or self-regulation/control capacities). Executive functions can impact your perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and actions. Just because you have good executive functions in one area does not mean you have them in all areas and there can be extreme variation in-between. However, extreme executive functioning deficits can cause significant problems at home, work, and school, as well as with others, and can impact overall daily functioning.
Isn’t Executive Functioning Just A Fancy Word For ADHD?
Yes and no. People with ADHD have executive functioning deficits, but not all people with executive functioning deficits have ADHD. Executive functioning deficits are usually more global. In fact, many and almost all mental health illnesses can disrupt neural circuits and cause executive functioning difficulties. This includes anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, autism, dementia, among many others. Accidents such as head injuries or even strokes can also cause executive dysfunction in people who have had otherwise good executive functioning.
How Can Thriveworks-Reading/Wyomissing Help?
Everyone has the capacity for executive functions, however many people do not use the skills because either the neural circuits have not matured or they have not learned how. It is not helpful just to say someone has poor executive functioning. What is more helpful is a comprehensive assessment to define exactly which executive functioning skills you or your child is having difficulty with so that intervention can alter that part of the brain. Research has found that interventions are effective and you can retrain your brain and increase your executive functioning to be more productive. If you have executive functioning deficits due to a head injury or illness, an evaluation and intervention may also be needed again to appropriately assess the situation and make a plan for interventions. Some mental health illnesses may respond to medications to target that part of the brain where there are neural disruptions, in addition to counseling. At Thriveworks Reading-Wyomissing, we have experienced, credentialed, and licensed psychologists and counselors to conduct a thorough evaluation and/or to provide counseling to help you or your child increase their executive functioning skills. “Let’s get Thriving!”
Your Team at Thriveworks Reading Counseling