Kate Cohen-Posey, Psychiatric & Psychological Services – Director, USA

Participants will study the use of imagery to heighten activation and, conversely, to provide a calming focal point. Experiential exercises, research review, demonstration, and discussion will be used to examine the role of images and symbols in “picture gazing” brainspotting (BSP). Arousing and calming effects of images will be experienced through personification and identification exercises. Discussion will consider the possibility that (1) negative images heighten disturbing emotions; and (2) pictures that personify specific qualities of distress and inner resources aid attunement. Pertinent neuroscientific research will be shared: negative images activate the right prefrontal cortex (PFC), with strong connections to the amygdala, and positive pictures activate the left PFC that can, in turn, inhibit the amygdala. A demonstration will show how to integrate imagery with BSP, making only minor modifications. After observing this picture gazing protocol, the power of positive images (as gaze spots) to assist the shift from fight-flight (SNS) to the rest-connect (PNS) nervous systems can be evaluated. In particular, the power of pictures to mindfully externalize distress and provoke relevant associations and insights will be witnessed.

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