Brainspotting Therapy Now Available

If you are looking for a Brainspotting Therapist (Phase 1) I am now officially trained (as of March 12, 2023). Here is my info sheet on Brainspotting Therapy (BSP):

What is Brainspotting Therapy (BSP)?

Where you look affects how you feel. – Dr. David Grand

Brainspotting Therapy (BSP) was discovered by Dr. David Grand, PhD in 2003. BSP functions as a neurobiological tool to locate, focus, process, and release experiences and symptoms that are typically out of reach of the conscious mind and its cognitive language capacity. Working with the deep brain and the body through its direct access to the autonomic and limbic systems, it taps into and harnesses the body’s innate self-scanning capacity to process and release focused areas which are in a maladaptive homeostasis or “frozen primitive survival modes.”

More simply: BSP is the utilization of fixed eye positions which appear to stimulate neural networks and facilitate both the associative process and the resolution, digestion, or healing of both physiological and psychological trauma. 

Who benefits from BSP?

Children, teens, and adults can benefit from BSP. 

What are the risks of BSP?

The risks are similar to regular talk therapy in that you may feel tired or fatigued after your session and processing of your emotions may spill over into the next day. 

What can be expected during a BSP session?

During a session, the trained therapist might:

  • guide you to think about an issue or problem that causes trouble or concern, such as memories of bad experiences, arguments, physical pain, worries, etc. The therapist will ask a few questions about the problem but does not focus on an in-depth discussion of the issue or trauma. 
  • help you find an eye position (i.e., Brainspot)
  • guide you to be aware of how your body is feeling, e.g., noticing any tension in the head, neck, shoulders, stomach, or other areas. 
  • encourage you to harness the deep, mindful processing of your issue.
  • suggest you listen to bilateral sounds, a type of music or nature sounds which move back and forth between right and left ears. Bilateral sound causes alternating activation of the right and left-brain hemispheres and activates the parasympathetic, or calming, part of the nervous system. 

Through these and other interventions, the therapist helps your brain reprocess anxiety, trauma, and stress. When completed, like most people, you will likely report feeling calmer and more relaxed.

Tips:

  • During your session, you may or may not be able to (or want to) verbalize your thoughts. It is completely up to you if you want to remain silent or not.  
  • You may become upset, tearful, or some other strong feelings (activation) may emerge. This is completely normal, and it will likely come in waves of intensity.
  • You may feel like closing your eyes at times and that is okay, too. Just remember when you open your eyes to try and come back to the brainspot. 
  • If you feel like you need to move, or shake it off, that is okay, too. 
  • Your therapist may check in with you and will let you know when the Brainspotting session is coming to an end. 
  • Most sessions last about 40 minutes. 
  • Self-Brainspotting is not recommended. 

Note that although ideally it is done face-to-face, BSP can also be done virtually.

For more information on Brainspotting: https://brainspotting.com

or contact myself, Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW.

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Stressed Out? Consider Counselling and Speak to a Therapist

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Stress is a normal part of life and can be caused by a wide range of factors such as work, relationships, financial problems, aging, caregiving, and health issues. While some level of stress can be helpful in motivating people to take action and find solutions, chronic stress can have a negative impact on a person’s mental and physical health.

People may seek counselling for stress because it provides a safe and supportive environment to explore and understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours related to stress. A therapist can help individuals identify the root cause of their stress, develop coping strategies to manage it, and learn relaxation techniques to reduce symptoms of stress.

Therapy can also provide an opportunity for people to process their experiences, address past traumas or negative life events that may be contributing to their stress levels, and develop a better understanding of their emotions and thoughts.

In addition, counselling can also help individuals with stress-related conditions such as anxiety, depression, and burnout. By working with a therapist, people can gain a deeper understanding of their patterns of behavior and thought, and develop a more holistic approach to managing stress.

Overall, therapy for stress can provide people with the tools and support they need to manage and reduce stress levels, and improve their overall mental and physical well-being.

Check out my Psychology Today profile for up-to-date information on my counselling services.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Made with the help of ChatGPT.

The Magic Wand – A Brainspotting Therapy Session

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

I would like to tell you about my recent therapy experience. I believe in order to be a good therapist, one should be seeking therapy as needed to deal with their own issues. Even the best therapists need a therapist occasionally! To optimize my emotional and psychological health, I occasionally seek outside help. With this in mind, I saw Clinical Social Worker Ruth B.Z. Thomson of Winnipeg, Manitoba, for a therapy session. She used a therapy technique called “Brainspotting” (BSP) which was new to me and which I was very curious about. 

“Brainspotting is a powerful, focused treatment method that works by identifying, processing, and releasing core neurophysiological sources of emotional/body, pain, trauma, disassociation, and a variety of other challenging symptoms. Brainspotting is a simultaneous form of diagnosis and treatment, enhanced with bilateral sound, which is deep, direct, and powerful, yet focused and containing.”

David Grand, Phd, Brainspotting Developer and Trainer

By the way, bi-lateral and BIO-lateral are two different things. It sounds confusing, but here is a way to explain the difference. Also, there is a link between brainspotting and EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing).

After filling out forms and consenting to treatment I entered Ruth’s beautifully decorated and comfortable office. She said I could choose any chair to sit on. There were about six chairs. I scanned the room, chose a chair, sat down, and got comfortable. I rearranged the cushions and used a little step stool. She sat across from me. She told me after a brief talking session, I would be listening to music with headphones, and she would use a wand for me to look at and focus on. The wand looked like one of those telescopic back scratchers and it had a dark blue handle.

We chatted for a bit to discuss my issues and then she told me we were going to get started with the brainspotting treatment. She passed me the headphones and made sure I could hear the music in both ears. It was not too loud as she also wanted me to be able to hear her. She said she was going to be watching me and I was to focus on my physical and emotional responses related to the issues I had presented to her with. 

The music she chose for me is called “bilateral” and it’s not exactly music. It was calming peaceful sounds such as chimes, waves, and birds chirping. The sounds alternated between the left and right ears. 

The music was very relaxing and calming. I noticed a yellow “glow” around the wand. (It almost looked like a magic wand!) Ruth held the wand to the left of her, almost at an outstretched arm’s reach, at eye level and I stared at it. She moved the wand slowly and watched my physical reaction. Sometimes I blinked more or fidgeted or took deep breaths. She also watched my facial expressions. 

After a few minutes she moved the wand and asked me to follow it. She moved it to the right of her body. It was about eye level. Very slowly and methodically she would move the wand up or down all the while watching my reaction. 

She asked me what I was feeling and thinking. I shared my thoughts, then she took the wand and moved it back to her right side. 

The music was very calming. I processed some feelings and thoughts. At one point I felt mad, and this was a bit of a revelation. This was good!

She then had me talk it out some more until I was done with my observations and feelings about the issue at hand. 

Then Ruth had me close my eyes and brought the wand closer to me. She had me open my eyes and I followed the wand, and she brought it back to her right then circled downward and back up closer to me. She repeated this closeup – back to the right – downward swoop movement in a fluid moderately paced motion about 4-5 times. It was like drawing a sideways “D” in the air with the wand. We then paused for a bit. 

Photo by Laura Stanley on Pexels.com

She then had me do a relaxing visualization. I found myself on a hammock in Hawaii! All the while the bilateral music played quietly in my ears, alternating between left and right.

After the guided imagery was over, she had me take off my headphones. There was a long pause as we sat in silence. She then asked me for my thoughts. 

I told her I like analogies to explain things when I can’t quite put my feelings and thoughts into words. I told her it felt like I was put into a long, dark tunnel and now I’ve come out of the tunnel and I’m not quite sure where I am. I’m looking around, but I’m not quite sure what just happened and where I ended up. It feels good though. I told her I think it’s going to take me a little while to process what just happened. She agreed and said that it will take a few days for the neural pathways to change. She told me to drink lots of water and gave me a couple pages to read on brainspotting.

As promised, she emailed me this link as an example of bilateral music – 1 HR Bilateral Music Therapy – Relieve Stress, Anxiety, PTSD, Nervousness – EMDR, Brainspotting (best heard with headphones). 

I am hopeful that this treatment will help me with my issue, and I could already tell just a couple hours later that I was already feeling some benefit. 

For more information on brainspotting check out David Grand’s book, Brainspotting: The Revolutionary New Therapy for Rapid and Effective Change.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Finding Balance – Notes from a Therapist/Jewelry Maker

Crystal Healing Bracelets by Angela Gentile, Gentle Angel Treasures

In the fall of 2021 I decided that my counselling skills were not going to go to waste. I started seeking out office space that was comfortable, wheelchair accessible and affordable. I found a great office in the heart of downtown Winnipeg in an area called Osborne Village. The office is on the main floor and it overlooks the Assiniboine River. I can see the Golden Boy on top of the Manitoba Legislature from one of my windows.

My client list is growing, and I have a few regular clients now. Some come in to the office, some prefer home visits, some like telephone, and many prefer virtual or “teletherapy.” I use the platform called Sessions by Psychology Today. They also have an app so my clients can use their mobile devices instead of having to be on a desktop or laptop computer. This makes counselling and therapy very convenient!

As my private practice thrives I have to be careful that I take time to look after myself. Burnout can happen to anyone in any kind of caring profession. I have been burnt out before, so I am very careful and will not let that happen again.

To keep myself balanced, a work-life balance, I have decided to work with my private practice Monday to Thursday. Friday to Sunday are my days off. I have also developed a new passion and hobby which allows me to be creative and nourishes my passion for helping people.

In my spare time, I make semiprecious gemstone bracelets. These bracelets are said to have crystal healing properties and some people believe the energy that comes from them can help them feel better. Some wear them for the healing properties, others just like the visual appeal of wearing natural stones. I have been wearing these types of bracelets since my cancer diagnosis in 2017. The designing, creating, assembling, and sale/gifting of these beautiful and natural gem bracelets is very “recreationally therapeutic” for me. I love making these bracelets, and I have also started making custom orders for people. Some of the most popular types of stones I use are onyx, obsidian, howlite, amethyst, rose quartz, jade, jasper, agate, hematite and lava. My supply has grown leaps and bounds since October 2021, and I think I have almost every type of bead now!

Counselling and therapy is hard work. Making crystal healing bracelets is fun and energizing. The combination of these two activities creates a great balance for me. I am very well mental-health wise, and feel energized and grounded. I remember years ago listening to Dr. Laura Schlessinger on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. In addition to her marriage and family advice talk show, she would talk about selling her jewelry that she handcrafted. Now I get it. A therapist who has a creative and fun outlet is better equipped to handle any stress, trauma, grief, and conflict that a client brings to them. It just makes good sense.

If you are interested in booking an appointment for counselling or would like to see what I have for sale in my Gentle Angel Treasures shop, please send me a message in the comment box below.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Are Social Work Counselling Therapy Services Covered?

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Angela G. Gentile, MSW RSW

“Are your services covered?”

I get this question asked many times. If you are in Manitoba and would like to claim the expenses for my Social Work services, please take note of the following options:

1. Group Health Insurance Plans (Check to see if your plan covers “Social Worker”)

  • Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan has included social work coverage since 2014. You pay me for the service, then I give you a receipt which will include my name, credentials, and my social worker registration number. You submit to Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan for reimbursement (Johnston Group). 
  • Empire Life – I am a registered provider
  • Great West Life may provide some coverage for the services of a social worker. See Comprehensive Healthcare Plans.
  • Green Shield Canada (GSC) – I am a registered provider
  • Manitoba Blue Cross – I am a registered provider. Check out the Counselling Services information for EAP and IAP. The website states, “Counselling services are available to those who have Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or Individual Assistance Program (IAP) coverage with Manitoba Blue Cross. If you are unsure of your coverage, visit your mybluecross online account to confirm.”
  • Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) – I am a registered provider. This service is covered under the “Fatality Claims – Grief Counselling” provision.
  • Manulife – Some plans cover social workers, so check your plan. If your plan does include social worker, then you pay for the service, get a receipt with the social worker’s name, credentials, and registration number and submit to Manulife for reimbursement.
  • Sun Life Financial Health Insurance and coverage – I am registered with the Sun Life Lumino Health Network
  • SSQ Insurance – I am a registered provider

2. Indigenous Services Canada – First Nations and Inuit Health Branch Mental Health Counselling Services

  • First Nations Inuit Health Branch – Non-Insured Health Benefit (NIHB) Mental Health Counselling Services and the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Programs (IRS RHSP) – I am a registered to provide services (free of charge) to those who qualify. This therapy is provided by funding through Indigenous Services Canada.

3. Manitoba Government Employees Health Spending Account

If you have a Health Spending Account through Manitoba Blue Cross, please see the following from the government website:

“A Health Spending Account can be easily compared to a bank account. The Province
of Manitoba deposits a pre-determined amount of benefit dollars into your account.
These benefit dollars can be used to top-off existing benefit maximums, or to pay for
any medical expenses you incur which meet the requirements for the medical expense
credit as defined by Canada Revenue Agency, for anyone for whom you claim a tax
deduction in accordance with the Income Tax Act (Canada).”

4. Medical Expenses on Income Tax Through Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA)

You may be able to claim the therapy on the CRA Income Tax Form, Line 330 – Medical Expenses for Self, Spouse or Common-Law Partner, and your Dependent Children.  Social workers are on their list of approved qualified medical practitioners for almost all provinces.

Therapy is listed as an eligible medical expense by the CRA. The following is from their website:

“Therapy – the salary and wages paid for the therapy given to a person who is eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC). The person giving the therapy must not be your spouse or common-law partner and must be 18 years of age or older when the amounts are paid.

The therapy has to be prescribed and supervised by one of the following practitioners:

  • a psychologist, a medical doctor, or a nurse practitioner (for expenses incurred after September 7, 2017) for a mental impairment
  • an occupational therapist, a medical doctor, or a nurse practitioner (for expenses incurred after September 7, 2017) for a physical impairment

For more information about the DTC, see Guide RC4064, Disability-Related Information.”

Contact Numbers:

Canada Revenue Agency (for Manitoba): 1-800-267-6999.

Manitoba Blue Cross(204) 775-0151

Clarify your eligibility for coverage prior to our first session. If you need any help finding out if you have coverage, please let me know.

References:

Manitoba Blue Cross Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.mb.bluecross.ca/faq

Medical Expenses (2020), Canada Revenue Agency

Social Work Services and Third Party Payments – Canadian Association of Social Workers