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Adolescence is a critical period of development during which time individuals’ brains experience increased neuroplasticity and structural reorganization (Albert, Chein, & Steinberg, 2013; Bava & Tapert, 2010; Casey, Getz, & Galvan, 2008). Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change in response to new learning and environmental influences (Siegel, 2012). A number of factors influence an individual’s brain development and associated changes in affect, cognition, and behavior, including genetic predispositions, early childhood experiences, and temperament (Steinberg, 2014). For example, adolescents who have a history of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), a set of toxic experiences such as abuse or having a caretaker who is dependent on substances, often have unique patterns in brain development and are at an increased risk for engaging in anti-social behavior and/or experiencing psychological distress (Andersen et al., 2008; Duke, Pettingell, McMorris, & Borowsky, 2010). Keeping in mind the complexity and uniqueness of individual experience, we will briefly review some of the most influential changes in adolescents’ brains below.

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an Article published in Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling, July 1, 2018, available online at doi: 10.1080/23727810.2017.1381909