The Neurology of Connection

Livestream: $579

July 10, 17, & 24, 2024
Wednesdays | 8:00AM - 12:15PM MT

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This includes all course readings, resources, and weekly live-streamed sessions.

Exploring the Neurology of Sensory Integration, Regulation, and Relationships

Understanding how it is that we connect to ourselves, our world, and each other.

In this course, we will delve into the intricate neurobiological mechanisms that govern our body's responses to stress, emotional states, and sensory experiences. We will explore how the autonomic nervous system, neurotransmitters, and specific brain regions work together to regulate arousal levels and emotional well-being. By examining the concept of neuroplasticity, we will uncover the brain's remarkable ability to adapt to relational experiences, shaping attachment patterns and influencing overall development.

Our exploration will extend to the fascinating world of sensory integration, where we will investigate the neurophysiological underpinnings of how individuals process and respond to sensory input. Through a deep dive into attachment theory, we will unravel the pivotal role it plays in human development, emphasizing the brain regions and neural circuits involved in social cognition, empathy, and emotional regulation. Furthermore, we will explore the impact of neurotransmitters like oxytocin and dopamine on fostering social bonds and emotional connections.

By synthesizing cutting-edge neuroscience research with practical insights, this course aims to equip occupational therapists with a comprehensive understanding of how the brain and body interact in the context of stress, emotions, and sensory challenges. Join us on this enlightening journey as we unravel the mysteries of neurobiology underlying stress, emotional regulation, and sensory integration, enhancing our ability to support individuals in overcoming sensory-related obstacles.

As a result of this course participants will be able to…

  • Understand the intricate neurobiological mechanisms involved in regulating stress responses, emotional states, and the sensory integration process.

  • Explore the role of the autonomic nervous system, neurotransmitters, and specific brain regions in modulating arousal levels, sensory integration and processing, and emotional well-being.

  • Analyze the concept of neuroplasticity and its impact on brain development, attachment patterns, and sensory integration and processing.

  • Examine the neurobiological basis of attachment theory, it's reliance on regulation and sensory integration, and its significance in shaping human development and social relationships.

  • Investigate the neural circuits and brain regions responsible for social cognition, empathy, and emotional regulation, as well as the influence of neurotransmitters like oxytocin and dopamine in fostering social bonds.

  • Apply insights from contemporary neuroscience research to enhance occupational therapy practices related to stress management, emotional regulation, and sensory integration.

Who Should Attend

Clinicians interested in understanding the the functional neurology of the sensory integration process, nervous system regulation, and relational processes like attachment.

Level: Introductory

Attendance Requirements

The course will be available as distance-learning interactive (live-streamed sessions) and distance-learning independent (video recordings). Video recordings are typically accessible to all participants within a week after each session and should be reviewed in the case of a planned or unplanned absence.

Participants of this program must meet the time requirements for module completion. Additionally, a brief CEU quiz must be completed and passed with at least 80% accuracy to verify competency.

Individuals who do not meet both requirements will not receive AOTA or ASHA CEUs. No partial credit will be provided.

Have questions or interested in group registration?
Contact for more information.

If you are part of an organization or community with 30+ clinicians who are interested in this course, please contact us directly at to discuss private course offerings and pricing.

Presenter: Virginia Spielmann, PhD, OTR/L

Virginia Spielmann is an Occupational Therapist and the Executive Director of STAR Institute for Sensory Processing. She obtained her PhD in Infant and Early Childhood Development in August 2021. She is a published author, researcher, sometime-university-professor, and masterful international speaker. Virginia is also a therapeutic foster parent, and dedicated to her family and dogs.

Dr. Spielmann delivered a TEDx Mile High (Denver, Co) talk in December 2021. She consults on television and other media projects; co-founded & authored the Critical Core therapeutic role-playing game; and co-developed the Palaana sensory lounger with SLACK Lifestyle.

Dr. Spielmann still actively provides direct occupational therapy services, mentors therapists and clinicians from around the world, and provides direct support to infant mental health and early childhood teams. Her extensive clinical experience includes autism, differences in sensory integration/processing, infant mental health, adoption, foster-care, developmental trauma, and physical disabilities. Dr Spielmann’s areas of special interest include professional reflection and reflective practice, neurodiversity affirming care, trauma informed care, and epistemologies and ontologies of health care.

Virginia has considerable post-graduate training, she is certified on the SIPT. She obtained her Ph.D. in Infant and Early Childhood Development with an emphasis on mental health, from Fielding Graduate University, in Santa Barbara (2021). Her Masters in Occupational Therapy from Mount Mary University, Milwaukee (2018) and her BSc in Occupational Therapy from Oxford Brookes University, England (2002).

She is a published author and contributed to the STAR Frame of Reference as part of the 4th Edition of Frames of Reference for Pediatric Occupational Therapy, alongside Dr. Miller and Dr. Schoen. 

Continuing Education: AOTA CEUs Pending (1.2 CEUS/12 contact hours)