The right brain is dominant in psychotherapy

Psychotherapy (Chic). 2014 Sep;51(3):388-97. doi: 10.1037/a0037083.


This article discusses how recent studies of the right brain, which is dominant for the implicit, nonverbal, intuitive, holistic processing of emotional information and social interactions, can elucidate the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the relational foundations of psychotherapy. Utilizing the interpersonal neurobiological perspective of regulation theory, I describe the fundamental role of the early developing right brain in relational processes, throughout the life span. I present interdisciplinary evidence documenting right brain functions in early attachment processes, in emotional communications within the therapeutic alliance, in mutual therapeutic enactments, and in therapeutic change processes. This work highlights the fact that the current emphasis on relational processes is shared by, cross-fertilizing, and indeed transforming both psychology and neuroscience, with important consequences for clinical psychological models of psychotherapeutic change.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Communication
  • Countertransference
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Transference, Psychology