Is Vision Therapy Part Psychotherapy?


In the previous post we scratched the surface of how emotions can be intimately linked to visual profiles, adaptations, and postural skews.  There are visual or ocular abnormalities that can result in emotional difficulties much as emotional difficulties can be manifest in visual or ocular abnormalities.  Consider the following, from a JBO paper authored by Dr. Joel Warshowsky:

JBO Cover“My observations indicate that convergence deficits appear to correlate with high levels of anxiety and ultimately this results in exaggerated agoraphobic behavior. Resolution of the convergent issue results in significantly reduced anxiety, panic attacks and the agoraphobic response. Where one sees one’s self then, relative to objects and people in the environment, can have physical and emotional affects far beyond the relatively simple physiological convergent task. If the person perceives a threat, an invasion of his personal space, or if the person’s space is unstable, then spatial behavior may reflect those stresses.”

BrainspottingWhich seems to beg the question: when a doctor or optometric vision therapist guides a patient through changes in visual function, will the therapy of necessity touch upon principles of psychotherapy?  Undoubtedly yes, which is in a way what makes some people (including some doctors) leery of the changes that occur by opening up Pandora’s Box.  During one of my many planned forays into the Psychology section of B&N, I came across a bookby David Grand, PhD that I wasn’t looking for.  Brainspotting: The Revolutionary New Therapy For Rapid and Effective Therapy.  Brainspotting is a derivative of EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.  Give a listen:

In his book Dr. Grand has a chapter titled Z-Axis and Convergence Brainspotting, subtitled Brainspotting in Three Dimensions.  Hmm … I thought, that sounds quite a bit like Brock String Theory.  Sure enough, a few pages into the chapter, Dr. Grand writes: “I was giving a Brainspotting training in 2006 in Pittsburgh.  On the final day, one of the trainees handed me a paper, saying. ‘Read this.  I think you’ll find it interesting with what you are doing.’ The paper was titled: ‘Visual Convergence Therapy as a Vagal Maneuver: An Unexpecdted Palliative for Anginal Pain and Related Issues.’  It was authored by Merrill Bowan, a neuro-optometrist, and it was actually his draft of an article that had never been published … [Note: the paper was subsequently published in JBO under a different title here]

Bowan… Bowan, an innovator in his field of optometry, gave a case example in his paper.  He helped a patient significantly reduce her panic attacks by using visual convergence therapy (also called simply convergence therapy, or CT).  He had his patient hold her finger twelve inches from her eyes and move her gaze back and forth, between her close finger and the far wall, every two seconds, for a period of two minutes.  Bowan reported that his patients remained panic free for a year after a series of CT treatments …

… The fact that a nontherapist could effectively treat an emotional condition supports my belief that the answers to our psychological issues lie deep in our brains and bodies.  Bowan treated a panic disorder by activating the OCR, a primitive reflex that accesses the vagus nerve, slowing the heart and calming the body.  There was no talking, and no analyzing, and no cognitive interventions – just results.”

One thought on “Is Vision Therapy Part Psychotherapy?

  1. Wonderful term for this technique- Brainspotting!
    However it is already possible to precisely map the body/mind/emotion/eye connections by placing an iridology chart on top of a colour visual field. In a matter of minutes the patient is able to access the most pertinent emotional block to them reaching their highest visual, physical or emotional potential. My books – ‘New Light on Fields’ @ OEP and the latest book – ‘Coaching the Invisible Fields -A new way to reach your hidden potential with light and visual awareness’ describe the process.

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