Edited article by Melanie Watts.
BWRT – Brain Working Recursive Therapy – is a ground-breaking, but entirely natural, new therapy that helps you rewire your thoughts. Living with fears or uncomfortable feelings – whether they’re about spiders or flying, public speaking or even leaving the house – can mean you’re not living your best life. There are trusted methods to tackle these problems, including cognitive behavioural, humanistic, and mindful therapies, which fall within the bracket of ‘talking therapies’, invented by Freud more than 100 years ago.
But what if we told you that after all this time there’s a new treatment in town, suitable for most people, for most issues, backed by practitioners and patients across the globe? Brain Working Recursive Therapy (BWRT) is a one-to-one talking therapy that gives you the tools to reprogram your emotional or habitual responses, through the power of your thought alone. The best thing is, this rewiring can be so effective that you may only need one or two sessions. Sounds too good to be true? Let’s meet the man behind BWRT.
What is BWRT?
BWRT was created by Terence Watts, a therapist for more than 30 years, with more than 35,000 session hours under his belt. “After working with all different kinds of people for years, I became increasingly fascinated by the way the mind works,” says Terence. ‘To really hardwire a new way of thinking, most therapies require repeated sessions and activities that the patient needs to keep doing in order for them to be effective.’
Your brain is an amazing thing, computing a stream of input from all your senses, while referencing memories, and automatically making decisions as you go about your day, trying to make sense of everything it hears and sees.
How does BWRT work?
BWRT enables you to create a different neural pathway response – in other words a different mental reaction – before you react to something. ‘The change can be so natural that the client doesn’t even notice the subtle switch,’ says Terence.
It can be effective in treating pretty much anything, from an uncomfortable feeling, emotion or habit, right up to an intense phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even addictive behaviour.
Your unconscious mind controls ‘fight or flight.’ These automatic responses come from your limbic cortex. ‘It controls things that don’t require conscious thought, such as breathing, perspiration, organ function and the hormone system,’ says Terence. ‘It also controls your fight-or-flight mode, which is the physical and emotional response you feel when confronted with something your brain perceives as stressful or dangerous.’ This means some negative, automatic actions or reactions – such as a fear of flying or reaching for a sugary snack, if you feel low – can stem from misinterpreted or outdated information that your brain has stored from a past situation. ‘And it doesn’t have to be the distant past either,’ says Terence. ‘As your situation changes in life – your kids move away, you retire, or your partner does, or it could be something bigger like a health change or the menopause – it can subconsciously affect you.’
You might find yourself suddenly devoid of a plan, or lacking focus or confidence. Your brain learns patterns associated with these feelings, such as a release of the stress hormone cortisol and you feeling the jitters when you go to sign up for that new fitness class. It will automatically continue that reaction each time the issue comes up, without you even stopping to realise that’s what is going on.
‘But the amazing thing is, this part of your brain doesn’t differentiate between reality and imagination, so this reaction can be “recorded over”,’ says Terence.
What happens in a BWRT session?
If you’ve had any kind of counselling or therapy, you’ll know it can sometimes be frustrating, awkward, or even traumatic, as your brain mulls over problems, past and present.
But with BWRT, you don’t even need to discuss the cause or root of the problem in much detail at all, making the concept of treating it feel a lot more comfortable.
In a BWRT session, which usually takes around an hour, the therapist will ask you to target the thing you don’t like about how you’re behaving and feeling and focus on how you’d rather feel.
Essentially you freeze the response before it goes past your limbic part of your brain – rather than letting the emotion or action form. This is how it differs from therapies such as CBT, which looks to change your response or reaction once the troubling emotion has already formed. Acting at this crucial, innate position in your brain, BWRT allows you to create a more empowering – but still realistic, reaction, replacing those older fears or insecurities. ‘It takes that false, scared or limited personality away, and trades it with who you really want to be,’ says Terence. ‘In essence it’s a natural and practical form of therapy, and the best thing is, the change comes completely from within you.’
BWRT case study: ‘A couple of sessions was all it took’.
When Julie Watts,(author of this article) age 60, had a crisis of confidence, she decided to give BWRT a go – with life-changing results.
‘I adored being a professional dancer for 40 years, embracing all the glamour that came with it. I was also a dog trainer, as well as now being a company director, running training events – which is a great mix! I was always very upfront, happy to be out on the floor. So it came as a shock when I started having “wobbles” around four years ago, which I put down to the menopause. And it wasn’t just in front of an audience. In shops I’d experience random blushing, sweating, and anxiety. It was completely horrifying for me, I felt out of control of my own personality – stupid and unprofessional. It had an impact on how I acted, and even what I chose to wear.
‘My husband Terence developed BWRT therapy, but I must admit I hadn’t really taken on board just how effective it was. However, after a couple of sessions my situation was completely changed around.
‘The effectiveness of the therapy was particularly impressive as I’m not easily suggestible – I’d be considered a fairly resistant client.
‘But thanks to BWRT being “content free”, meaning you can simply think of the problem rather than discuss it, I found it very do-able and it made me much more receptive to it.’
How to try BWRT
BWRT is now available at Femina Health. Mary Rogers and Debbie Jameson, our resident clinical psychologists are both registered BWRT practitioners.