Therapy Lingo

Left and Right Brain Functioning

Each hemisphere of the brain functions like two different personalities with their own way of processing information. The left brain thinks methodically and likes to organize and categorize information from the environment. It connects new information with old, making sense of our world.

This contrasts with the right brain which "thinks" holistically in pictures. The right learns kinesthetically through the body and functions with the present. It's the right brain that's responsible in counseling for bringing in our awareness to the present.

They are still debating which functions are governed by which hemisphere however generally speaking, each hemisphere dominates in the following ways:


left and right brain described


Other Important Right Brain Functions

These are the important characteristics in therapy.

  • Tone of voice
  • Facial expression
  • Gestures
  • Posture
  • Intensity of response
  • Autobiographical Memory (remembering your Birthday, significant events)
  • Map of the body (only on this side)
  • Stress Management

The left brain connects our internal world to our external world giving us that feeling of being separate from one another. It's the left brain that gives us the sense of "I am".

The right brain is that part of our brain that connects us to each other. In counseling, it's the right brain that gives us the feeling that our therapist is attuned to us.

Dr. Iain McGilchrist - The Divided Brain

You might find more precise characterizations of the left and right brain in Dr. McGilchrist's entertaining video on the two sides of the brain:


What's important to know

Whatever that part of the brain which sends this type of information is the same part of the brain that receives it. And, for our purposes it's also important to know that the right hemisphere functioning is the first area of the brain to develop. The left hemisphere develops later.

Related Topics

Right Brain Functioning

Left Brain Functioning

Right Side of the Brain "Break"

Right Brain Approach to Counseling

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Well, she said, I was like, projecting my stuff onto her...some sort of transference thing.