Types of Counseling: What The Brain Says About Therapy

Types of Counseling: What The Brain Says About Therapy

Orlando Counselor Providing Trauma and Anxiety Counseling

You’re stressed, anxious, and out of sorts, mind and body. You’re ready to feel better, but you’re apprehensive when it comes to calling a new counselor. You’ve been in therapy before, but it didn’t really seem to help. Starting over with a new therapist seems like a daunting task.

As an anxiety and trauma counselor providing counseling in Orlando, many of my clients have been in therapy before and have felt the same way. There are certain types of therapy that are more effective when it comes to healing anxiety and trauma.

In my last post Types of Counseling: A Bottom Up Approach, I explored how alternative therapies that use a somatic approach or bottom up approach are more effective for healing anxiety and trauma than traditional talk therapy. In this post, I explain why.

As humans, we have a triune brain, meaning we have a three part brain system. The development of the brain system follows the course of evolution. It also follows the course of the how human brain develops from infancy to adulthood. Our human brain stores and processes information from the level of the body, the emotions, and thoughts through the three part brain system. Allow me to take you on the most basic tour of the human brain.

Brainstem

Let’s start with the most primitive part of the brain, the brain stem, also known as the reptilian brain. The primary concern of this part of the brain is survival. This is the part of the brain that does all the things we don’t have to think about, like breathing, digestion, elimination, and body temperature. In a real or perceived threat of danger, this is the part of the brain that is first on the scene with it’s automatic response of fight, flight, or freeze.

Limbic System

The second part of the brain is the limbic system or the mammalian brain. The primary concern of this part is emotions and relationships. The limbic system is responsible for giving life texture and depth. It is the part of the brain that informs you of your preferences and dislikes, and pleasures and discomforts. The mammalian brain motivates you to be social and have relationships. In an emergency, this is the second part of the brain that comes online and provides the emotional quality to your experience, which can be intense emotions, such as anger, fear, or sadness.

Prefrontal Cortex

The prefrontal cortex is the third part of the brain, and this is the part that sets us humans apart from other mammals. This part of the brain is responsible for planning, organizing, predicting, decision making, problem solving, judgement, and other executive functions. And this part of the brain is last on the scene of an emergency. The prefrontal cortex will eventually recognizes that the coiled up thing in the corner of your eye is actually a water hose. It analyzes things and puts them in their appropriate places in the brain’s filing system.

Snake!

As an adventurous and outdoorsy person that loves to run the lakes in Orlando, I have a slew of examples of how the three part brain system has kept me safe. Just last week, I was running around the lakes in my neighborhood, listening to music and taking in the light show from our beautiful Orlando skies. My eyes caught a glimpse of something that was dark, curvy, and moving. My brainstem jolted my body across the sidewalk away from this thing (flight, in the flight, fight, or freeze response). Next, I got the information from my limbic system that I was afraid of that thing and I had strong preference to stay away (emotions were strong around fear). After all that, my prefrontal cortex did it’s job (labeling and organizing information) and I realized my brain was responding to an actual snake that was slithering along my running route.

This whole ordeal happens at least once a month, y’all. Sometimes it’s an actual snake and sometimes it’s a stick, rope, or hose that my brain is responding to as if it were a deadly snake. Every single time, I have the same bodily and emotional reaction of flight and fear. And every single time, my prefrontal cortex is the last one on the scene to give me a deeper analysis and deem whether it is a in fact a stick, rope, hose, or a deadly snake.

For the purposes of safety and survival, I am grateful for my triune brain system. If my prefrontal cortex were the first on the scene, taking up valuable time analyzing and categorizing, I would not have enough time to get out of the way when I encounter and actual snake.

In my next post, I talk about why all of this important in counseling.

For now, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them in comments section below!

Orlando Counseling for Trauma

If you’re interested in learning more about alternative therapies in Orlando, feel free to check out this page on trauma counseling in Orlando. You can also reach me through my contact page.

More on Alternative Therapies:

Types of Counseling: Trauma Counseling

Types of Counseling: What is EMDR?

Types of Counseling: Mind, Body, and Emotion

Types of Counseling: A Bottom Up Approach

Types of Counseling: Sensorimotor Psychotherapy


Lauran is an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, FL. She also specializes in helping people heal old broken relationship patterns that keep them from finding, creating, and keeping healthy relationships with partners, friends, and family. Lauran uses a down to earth approach infused with cutting-edge therapies that go beyond traditional talking to help clients feel calm in their body and mind and find peace within themselves.