Unlike a neurologist, who determines if parts of your brain work or don’t work, functional neurology assesses what parts of your brain work and what parts are not working as well as they could. Functional neurology can determine if one hemisphere of your brain works overtime, while the other sits around doing very little. It can determine if the problem is with the lobes in the brain, the cerebellum or a part of your brainstem.
Why would knowing this information be important in therapy? It is important because it determines how we perceive all the information we are taking in from the world around us. If part of our brain is weak then it throws everything off balance including: what we determine is important in a conversation; how we perceive someone’s tone and interpret that information; whether we tend toward being depressed or anxious; and our ability to change is impacted by using only a part of our brain. Additionally, when one side of our brain fatigues, it allows our limbic system (our emotional) brain to escape and take over our thinking. Thus, old and new emotions flood our system, impact our perceptions and influence our behavior toward ourselves and others.
Additionally, whether we are using talk therapy, experiential therapy, EMDR, brainspotting or any other technique, functional neurology informs the therapy so that we build up any parts of the brain that have not been working “full time”. In doing so, it allows the therapy to work more deeply and in a more targeted manner. It allows us to stop any fatigue in the brain and neurons in the brain, and in doing this, it means that you can handle the stresses and decisions of life in a balanced manner.