"Use your head!" You've probably heard this explained by an exasperated mother rin the checkout line or an annoyed friend at the mall. The assumption is that the angry person wants the recipient of their annoyance to think instead of mindlessly going through the motions. But what exactly does that mean? How does this work? Is one supposed to snap into action and use their brain or their mind? And does this discussion really even matter? (I think you'll find that it can have tremendous implications for the counseling field."
In the article The Difference Between Brain and Mind, the blogger seeks to bring some clarity to the disparity between one's brain and one's mind. The analogy used is that of hardware and software on a computer. The brain is similar to the hardware, which contains the software that allows the computer to function. Though there may often be an overlap of which does what, there is still a clear distinction between the two. Though simplistic, the point is clear; the brain is a tool that houses the mind, and the mind is the seat of one's consciousness and volition.
But how does this apply to counseling and why is it important? I believe this distinction is invaluable when practicing various cognitive techniques. For example suppose a client struggles with negative self-talk every day from sun up to sun down. One reasonable technique is to help the client learn how to counter these negative thoughts with more realistic, positive truths. However, there may come a point when the client simply gets lost in the battle of ideas and needs more help. This is where I think it can be helpful for a client to recognize the important distinction between brain and mind. Just because their brain is busy bringing up practiced condemnations and learned negative thoughts it does not mean their mind must join in. Their mind can simply observe the thoughts and emotions that the brain is producing. Live a river flowing by, so is the stuff the brain produces. The mind, on the other hand, is able to pick and choose what exactly it will or will not pluck out of the stream to examine and believer.