On-Demand Workshops

Adolescent Brain Development

Myths and Truths


Continuing Education
Credit Hours (CEC)

During the tumultuous stage of adolescence, the brain undergoes significant changes. During this period, adolescents are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviours, seek out novel and new experiences, and emphasize peer friendships over family relationships. These neurological, hormonal, and behavioural shifts can leave educators, parents, and other caring adults feeling overwhelmed and reactive rather than supportive. This workshop explores the neurobiology and development of the adolescent brain, as well as the subsequent effects on cognition, emotions, physiology, relationships, and behaviour. Participants will leave with new insights and ideas for supporting adolescents as they navigate this critical stage of development.

Trainer: Kelly Smith, MSW, RSW

Each on-demand purchase is for one viewer. Please purchase one copy per viewer.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this workshop, participants should be able to:

  • Define adolescence in a historical and cultural context
  • Describe features of the adolescent brain and how it differs from the child and adult brain
  • Identify the influence of substances and technology on adolescent brain development
  • List strategies for supporting healthy adolescent brain development

Some of the Topics Reviewed

  • Historical and Cultural Context of Adolescence
  • Introduction to Neurobiology
  • How the Adolescent Brain Is Different
  • The Role of Dopamine on the Developing Brain
  • How Attachment and Parental Relationships Shape the Brain
  • Gender and the Brain
  • Risk-Taking, Novelty Seeking, and Peer Relationships
  • The Effects of Trauma on the Adolescent Brain
  • Mental Health Disorders and Adolescence
  • The Role of Substances and Technology
  • Practical Strategies for Supporting Adolescents

Target Audience

This is an introductory-intermediate level workshop intended for school personnel, social service and health care professionals, counsellors, social workers, and anyone working with adolescents.

Trainer: Kelly Smith


Kelly is a Registered Social Worker and holds a Master of Social Work degree. She has also completed six levels of training in Sandtray-Worldplay with Gisela Schubach De Domenico and three levels of training with the Canadian Association of Play Therapy. In addition to training with CTRI, Kelly has an eclectic private practice where she incorporates play therapy, sandtray therapy, DBT, emotion-focused therapy, dance, somatic work, and mindfulness into her work with children, teens, adults, couples, and families. She specializes in providing trauma-informed counselling for motor vehicle accident victims and their families. Kelly believes that everyone can access their own self-healing abilities and feels honoured when asked to be a part of the journey. As a trainer, she is both passionate and engaging.

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