What is Emotional Brain Training?

A new, brain-based approach to healthcare

We live in a stressful world, and that stress causes most of our health problems. The EBT approach is to train the brain for both self-regulation (spiraling up from stress to joy in the present) and reconsolidation (rewiring circuits encoded during stressful episodes in the past). As these circuits control our physiology, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, EBT is fundamental to self-care and healthcare.

What are the EBT tools?

A set of tools that changes the brain

EBT has codified the pathways in the brain that change physiology. There are five levels of stress and five corresponding tools. There are three ways to use these tools. Spiral Up #1 ("Instant Boost") quickly switches off stress and activates positive emotions. It takes about a minute to work and is intentionally done quickly. Spiral Up #2 ("Quick & Easy") provides a complete set of five resiliency tools and takes about two to three minutes. These first two tools are for self-regulation. Spiral Up #3 ("Deep Work") guides the user through rewiring the stronger, more self-damaging circuits in the brain.

Why is EBT so important?

The tools give us a new way to take charge of our lives

EBT is so important because there is no other method that has codified tools that enable us to control stress circuits, and this method gives us a unifying approach to self-care. Instead of analyzing a problem - a psychological challenge, behavioral excess, relationship issue, or health concern - we appreciate that the underlying cause is a stress circuit. We switch off that circuit and find that we didn't need to analyze our problem. We just needed to switch off the biological root cause - that stress circuit.

Why is EBT a new paradigm?

EBT shuts off the bidirectional rise in brain-body stress

EBT focuses on rewiring the circuits that cause stress overload. From a neuroscience perspective, there is no boundary between brain and body stress. Brain stress causes body stress and vice versa. Stress in one amplifies stress in the other. For example, an ankle sprain triggers anxiety, and that anxiety prolongs the healing of the ankle, and the bidirectional feedback loops between the body and brain cause relationship issues and work stalls. The spike in stress causes cognitive lapses and forgetting to rest the ankle, which results in reinjuring it! By shutting off the stress circuit, we stop stress overload. This science was published by Peter Sterling in 1988. However, until the discovery of EBT, we did not have a self-directed way to shut off these stubborn cycles of stress overload, much less activate healing cycles of well-being. With EBT, now we do, and that is the focus of Brain Based Health.

Why is the goal of EBT to raise the set point?

By training the brain for resiliency, benefits can be lasting

The brain has a stress set point, the level of stress that has become its habit, which the brain defends. For example, when someone is highly stressed, buys a lottery ticket, and wins, even with all this financial success, they spend all the money and return to their previous level of stress within two years. That's the power of the brain's set point. By using the method over time, we can train our brain for resilience, so our unconscious wiring tends to move through stress to joy. There is nothing that compares to the experience of having a highly resilient emotional brain. We're naturally vibrant, healthy, and happy. This is why raising our set point is the most powerful thing that we can do to improve our overall health and well-being.

Why is the technology of EBT essential?

The brain needs external support to turn stress into joy

When a stress-reactive circuit is activated, the neocortex, the only brain area that gives us personal control, goes offline. We therefore need external support to enhance our effectiveness to do what we need to do to deactivate that wire and activate an effective one. This is why peer support and one-on-one therapy can be so effective. We do not fully "have our own back" when we are in high-stress states. The Spiral Up! app and online tools included with your membership provide external support. Using simple leading phrases supplied by this technology, you can use the tools in any level of stress and get from stress to joy, often in four minutes or less. Technology makes EBT scalable as it is both easier to learn and easier to use.

How does EBT fit in with other methods?

EBT is fundamental self-care and fits in well

EBT is relatively new, as the sciences of neuroplasticity and neurophysiology are relatively recent. The traditional methods that are commonly used in self-help programs and healthcare were developed 50 to 100 years ago, prior to these neuroscience breakthroughs that form the conceptual framework of the method. EBT is so fundamental that it can be used in conjunction with most other methods:


Medications can be an essential part of the treatment for many health problems, particularly when an individual is recovering from extreme stress overload. However, medications do not rewire stress circuits and can create unwanted side effects. EBT can improve our physiology, creating a healthier inner world that can improve the effectiveness of many medications and perhaps even decrease our excessive dependency on pharmacologic treatments for stress-related health problems.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy, or changing thoughts to change emotions and behaviors, has shown short-term effectiveness, enough to be the therapy of choice in the last 20 years. However, during this time, emotional and behavioral problems have become an epidemic. Recent research has shown that although cognitive methods seem to be effective, during high-stress times, when we really need them, the neocortex goes offline, and cognitive techniques may become ineffective. EBT can enable us to quickly reduce stress in real-time and make the use of cognitive techniques more effective.

Behavior Therapy

Research has shown that three behaviors - sleep, exercise, and eating - determine about 50 percent of our risk of major diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It makes perfect sense for all of us to try to control our lifestyle. However, behavior change methods, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), produce only short-term changes. It's hypothesized that this is because behavioral treatment does not address the physiologic root cause of the problem. If we change our behavior without changing the circuit that drives it, the circuit lives on and causes recidivism. We can use EBT to rewire the underlying drive and become more effective in making and sustaining behavior changes.


All methods of self-control include being present in the moment, using our neocortex to oversee ourselves and orchestrate changes in how we respond to life. EBT incorporates mindful awareness in its tools. However, the tools make effective emotional processing the priority as that is what has the most significant impact on our biology. It is emotional processing that gives us the most rapid and reliable way to switch off stress and activate well-being. As our working memory is limited, focusing our attention on stress levels and changing them is the brain-based priority to improve the quality of our life. Stress is ubiquitous in life today, so EBT can be seen as the next step for those who practice mindfulness. It rapidly reduces stress and enhances our capacity to experience the seven elevated emotions: love, compassion, gratitude, hope, forgiveness, awe, and joy.

Prayer and Contemplative Practices

Spiritual practices can impact our thoughts and emotions, which range from insights and philosophical breakthroughs to experiences of rapture and mystical awareness. EBT can support spiritual and contemplative practices as the tools can be used to switch off the stress that causes prayer to turn into a practice that is not "spiritual" and contemplation to become rumination. By using EBT to process emotional stress and rewire circuits that cause stress overload and strong emotional and addictive drives, prayer and contemplation may become more rewarding.


Psychotherapy and the one-on-one support of a counselor can be highly effective and essential in the treatment of mental health problems. When the root cause of these problems is a brain set point in stress overload with a dominance of extreme stress circuits, psychotherapy, along with medical treatments and detoxification in addiction treatment, are the EBT-recommended initial steps in recovery. Once the brain becomes unlocked from stress overload, adding EBT can hasten healing by using the individual's increasingly-resilient brain to heal itself. This gradual shift from psychotherapeutic and psychiatric care and the benefits of integrating the two approaches is why so many health professionals refer their patients to EBT.

12-Step Programs

The #1 self-help treatment worldwide is 12-Step. Most programs are free to join, and the warm support of a community and their widespread availability can make them lifesavers. As people who use 12-step programs recover, they often add EBT to their program, as they need a complete set of tools to reduce the stress of recovery and raise the brain's set point for lasting results. Addictive circuits encoded during adverse childhood events or later trauma may never be completely erased. EBT can help in two ways: 1) use of the tools to rapidly reduce stress in real-time to avoid relapse (the Spiral Up! app), and 2) raise the brain's set point (Advanced EBT) to lessen the risk of reinstating traces of addictive circuits. We recommend adding EBT to addiction programs to decrease the risk of recidivism.

How does the EBT Program work?

Step 1: Learn How to Spiral Up

The first step in the EBT Journey is to try out the tools. The emotional brain learns through experiences! Download the app and experiment with the tools. Listen to some relaxation audios and get comfortable with EBT. Complete the EBT Essentials video course and drop into daily Spiral Up Groups led by Certified EBT Providers and weekly Spiral Up with Dr. Laurel Zoom sessions led by the program founder to listen to others spiral up or receive coaching yourself.

Step 2: Learn How to Rewire

The second step in your EBT Journey is to learn how to rewire the most impactful circuits in your brain, the ones that cause problems. Once you have mastered spiraling up, move on to the How to Rewire course and rewire four circuits of your choosing. Rewiring your "Big 4 Circuits" will have a major impact on your health and quality of life. Continue with your basic membership or upgrade to a weekly 30-minute Group, a 60-minute Group, or a daily (weekdays) 30-day intensive for best results. These groups are designed to give you a private, supportive environment to rewire your brain for lasting changes.

Step 3: Raise Your Set Point

Once you have rewired the Big 4 Circuits, immediately continue with the advanced EBT courses. You have rewired enough circuits so that your set point is higher so you can be successful at wiring your brain for higher purpose. There are seven courses, one for each of the seven rewards of a purposeful life: Sanctuary, Authenticity, Vibrancy, Integrity, Intimacy, Spirituality, and Freedom. Raising your set point until you have an abundance of all seven of the rewards promotes optimal health and quality of life.

Do I need to access coaching or a telegroup?

The more support you use, the better your results

The emotional brain changes through emotional experiences, best accomplished by using the method with others. The tools are more effective when someone else listens as we use them, and by listening to others use the tools, our brain changes automatically. We offer daily Spiral Up Groups that you can use as if you were going to the "brain gym" to boost your EBT skills of self-regulation. The weekly 30-minute, 60-minute, and daily (weekdays) 30-day intensive groups include facilitation by a Certified EBT Provider and access to Connections with others between sessions. These groups function as the "brain gym" for both self-regulation and rewiring (reconsolidation). The extra structure and support help people stay focused on rewiring circuits that matter to them and stay with the process until each circuit has been rewired. Our private coaching is on demand. Each powerful session enables you to move forward with clarity and purpose to complete the program. Also, you can use the sessions to enhance your skills in moving past any stress that arises in daily life.

Who are EBT Providers?

They are health professionals who specialize in EBT

EBT Providers are licensed, registered, or certified health professionals who have completed personal training and use the tools in their daily lives. Certified EBT Providers complete clinical training to provide coaching and group training in EBT. Most are psychotherapists, physicians, counselors, nutritionists, or nurses. They are drawn to provide these services because they want to empower people to help themselves and to be part of a new neuroscience-based paradigm in healthcare. Since EBT Providers have experienced the power of the tools to transform their own lives, they are enthusiastic about sharing the EBT skills with others and have completed specialized training to help you get from stress to joy as easily and as quickly as possible!

What happens in a session?

Groups are inspiring, effective, and fun

Daily Spiral Up Groups, available at no extra cost to all members, last 30 minutes and start with the provider greeting everyone and leading them through a meditation in which they check in and identify their stress level, followed by one person volunteering to be coached through the skills by the provider. The session ends with the group saying in unison, "We are creating joy in our lives."

The EBT groups vary. They include the same format as Spiral Up Groups, starting with a guided meditation and ending with a joy close. The weekly 30-minute Group focuses on each member having time to share their progress, get advice from the provider, and listen to the seven other people in the group, so they develop a relationship with them. Between sessions, the group members become a needed support system to improve success in rewiring circuits. A confidential system through the app and website allows you to make private telephone calls for about five minutes to lend each other support. These "Connections" have been shown in research conducted at the University of Kentucky to be associated with improved health outcomes and how much people like EBT. The weekly 60-minute groups include these features and the provider coaches one person in the group doing an in-depth use of the tools. The 30-day Intensives provide sessions daily (weekdays) that are much like the 60-minute groups, but all members complete one EBT course in the 30 days, and with this increased intensity change their brain more rapidly..

What about family and friends?

Sharing the app with family members and friends

We welcome you to share your Spiral Up! app with family and friends. We want EBT to be widely available. Your family members and friends can join separately, but if you want to share your membership in the online tools with them, then please do so. These tools are fundamental to self-care and healthcare. We want to eradicate stress overload. Support this Brain Based Health movement and share EBT with others.

My spouse and I are both stressed

Most people are stressed these days. Relationships are extremely sensitive to stress. Engage your partner in the Brain Based Health movement and reset how they process their stress. Share the mobile app. Give them a copy of What’s my number? or ask them to join you in doing a Connection, taking turns using the mobile app and giving Connecting Messages. Consider joining different telegroups and strengthening your own resilience and/or scheduling a coaching session to develop a plan for moving forward as a couple. EBT is a brain-based way to switch off ineffective relationship patterns and activate new responses that are practical, easy to learn, and highly effective.

What about children and adolescents?

If you are a parent or guardian of a young person under 18, your choice to learn the tools and raise your set point can have an important beneficial impact on them. As your set point rises, your seemingly small actions can improve their emotional circuitry. To develop a personalized plan for supporting the emotional evolution and stress resilience of a child or adolescent, please schedule a coaching session with a Certified EBT Provider. Children and adolescents have highly plastic brains. Bringing EBT to them and to those who are close to them - stepparents, the less involved parent, grandparents - can create a change in the family that supports the young person's resilience.

Can I be certified to coach or provide EBT?

Resetting the healthcare workforce for Brain Based Health

Most health problems are rooted in stress overload, and EBT is uniquely suited to rewiring the stress response, offering a self-care way for individuals to switch off stress-reactive (triggered, stuck) circuits and decrease physiological stress. With decreased chronic stress and stress reactivity, other treatment modalities may be more effective. The EBT movement includes certification for all health professionals, starting with an introductory self-study program to learn the science and practice of EBT. We invite you to learn more about certification programs at  www.ebtcertification.com

Integrating EBT into clinical practice

Certified EBT Providers (licensed, registered, or certified health professionals) and Certified EBT Coaches (coach certification only) can provide services based on their certification level. All certification requires scientific and clinical training and embodying the method from completing personal training in EBT. Go at your own pace in the certification process and find the way that is right for your discipline, practice, and role within EBT.

Is it easy to stop my EBT membership?

EBT has a one-click cancellation policy

If you are not completely satisfied with the program for any reason, just deactivate your subscription at any time, and you will have access to the program until the end of your current four-week billing cycle. It only takes one click to cancel your membership. Often, if a person stops their membership, they find their way back to EBT eventually. When we ask their reason for returning, the most frequent response is, "EBT works!"

Questions? Call 800-441-2054 M-F 9am to 5pm Pacific Time or email us at support@ebt.org.