Inspiring People

David Grand, Film Maker and Psychotherapist

David Grand

Dr. Grand is a psychotherapist, writer, lecturer, performance coach and humanitarian famous for the discovery and development of the internationally acclaimed Brainspotting method which brings about life-changing breakthroughs at "Warp Speed".

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a PhD from International University, David Grand is renowned for his groundbreaking discoveries and advancements in the arenas of healing trauma and enhancing performance and creativity.

With a roster of clients that include many successful television, film and stage actors, professional athletes, business leaders, and survivors of profound traumas (including 9/11,Katrina and Iraq/Afghanistan combat veterans), Dr. Grand is a sought after lecturer, performance coach and public speaker.

Dr. Grand is currently producing a reality show pilot called “Trauma Doc” in which he travels on location with trauma survivors and heals them at the site where the event took place; a documentary about his experiences treating victims of Hurricane Katrina called “Come Hell or High Water” and producing a play called “I Witness” based on his personal stories of from September 11th related trauma.

Dr. Grand maintains a private psychotherapy and performance enhancement practice in Manhattan and Long Island, New York.

I met David Grand at his New York City office. After having read his book, Emotional Healing at Warp Speed, and after reading about the extensive work that he has done with people that have gone through the events of September 11th, I was determined that I was going to resist the temptation to share with him that I was someone who went through the vents of 9/11, up close and very personally.

I was determined that our time spent together would be all about David. But that is not how it went at all, because what David is all about is - other people. He is all about supporting people in living healthy and whole.

Within moments of meeting David I was willingly and freely, sharing about my first hand experience with 9/11. David then took me through some healing exercises and I was surprised at the remarkable results.

In talking with David, my understanding about the origins of trauma, shifted and I gained a new level of compassion, not only for others, but for -


David's work is amazing and it is my sincere hope that many people will learn what he already knows about trauma; about healing.

DR: Tell me about your work.

DG: My work is about possibility.

My work is about --

no assumptions, no demands, just helping a person to be in the best place that they can be, so as to let the miracle of their brain and body do what it is supposed to do, which is to first survive and second thrive.

We have all been bumped around in life, and the experience is physical as well as emotional. Trauma is ubiquitous. Trauma is a part of life but then there are the large traumas, the existential traumas that happen to us individually and together. They get imprinted on us. The good thing is that we learn from the experience. The bad part is that we get blocked.

When our systems are overwhelmed, it can't throw off the unnatural and go back to the natural state. That is really what the trauma symptoms are about. Whether you are afraid something will happen again, you are avoiding certain places, you can't sleep, you have nightmares, you get flashbacks of images and sound - that is unnatural. Your system is just trying to go back to the natural, but it can't throw it off.

A trauma therapist needs to understand not only the mind, but the body and the spirit and the unity of the three of them, and to know that you can not pre-ordain a person's healing. You can put them in the best place for that healing to happen on its own. As the healing happens, you observe it and you guide it but you don't guide it to make it happen. You guide it as it is happening.

David Grand, Executive Producer and Director

COME HELL OR HIGH WATER is a cinema verite style narrative documentary which follows the healing journey of three trauma survivors from New York with the filmmaker/trauma therapist Dr. David Grand. The survivors include Rose, a mother of a firefighter who died on 9/11, Judy, a singer who survived a night-club suicide bombing in Tel Aviv and Dennis, permanently disabled in an industrial accident while being stripped of his parental rights.

Together they set out on a 1,300 mile healing road trip to post-Katrina New Orleans. During the course of the week the survivors meet a multitude of victims of Hurricane Katrina and visit the sites of flooding and destruction. With Grand leading the way, the team encounters arranged and unpredictable healing opportunities with Katrina survivors, and for themselves. Opportunities to help these survivors, rescuers, health workers, local politicians and musicians deepen and widen the powerful journey.

What happens? How do they bond? What chance experiences, crises and conflicts emerge? Who struggles and who prevails? How are they all transformed forever by the challenge? What hidden demons are driving Grand throughout the story? COME HELL OR HIGH WATER weaves a colorful tapestry of stories within stories all culminating with the road trip home, returning to the city and the lives they left behind.


One of the crucial aspects of a trauma survivor’s recovery is telling their story - and being heard. Truth-telling is an empowering, restorative and healing component of the return to the normal. However, the acknowledgement of the effects of trauma on its victims has been historically short-lived, as reflected by the fleeting attention given to suffering of traumatized soldiers returning from WWI, WWII, Korean and Vietnam Wars. Over and over, the flags go up and shortly are taken down, leaving the survivors isolated and forgotten. In fact, it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that the diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was accepted as an actual diagnosis.

In society, communities and in families, trauma is also often quickly forgotten, repressed and denied, leaving its survivors to cope on their own with painful, intractable, life-inhibiting symptoms. Trauma overwhelms the brain’s remarkable capacity to process information, leaving the experience frozen in state and time. This explains the confusing symptoms of flashbacks, hypervigilance, fear of reoccurrence, exaggerated startle response, avoidance and numbing. Part of the victim remains stuck at the moment of terror, never to escape without the appropriate healing intervention.

9/11 and Hurricane Katrina were remarkable events in the sense that it brought attention to the effects of these existential traumas, which made its mark on millions of our citizens. And yet, as the flags on our cars and lapels have virtually disappeared, so has the heightened trauma awareness slipped off the radar screen of society, as represented by our government, media and the public. However, trauma hasn’t gone away, as the second and third waves of distress response are now cresting.

This documentary narrative will artfully, dramatically and undeniably draw in and take along the audience on their compelling roller coaster healing journey of the characters and the stories; an unforgettable emotional ride filled with surprises that viewers cannot resist.

We are wired for survival. We are wired for healing, both physical and emotional and given the right opportunities healing will happen on its own.

We are amazing beings of adaptation and creation.

My wisdom comes in knowing that when a person comes to see me, I know nothing. I know nothing about them or why they are the way they are or how they are going to heal. That allows me to be in a place so that, whoever they are and wherever they are will just come out, and come out and present itself to me and to us. From there the healing begins.

Because there are one quadrillion connections in the human brain and nervous system -- that is a million billion, that is more than the stars in the universe -- nobody can know what is going on inside of another person. It is hard enough for us to know what is going on inside of ourselves. If you help a person to shift into the right light and then keep on shifting with that light as it moves, healing happens naturally. If you try to pre-ordain it or impose it, it not only doesn't happen. It blocks whatever healing can happen.

Just in our brief thing here, I didn't tell you what to do except:

Think about it, see what you feel in your body and see where your mind goes.

Most of what was happening inside, I didn't know and I will never know. I don't need to know. I helped you to find the right spot by which the healing would happen naturally and spontaneously. This goes not only for trauma therapy and therapy, this goes for everything. We are creatures of survival and adaptation. That is our heritage from the animal kingdom. That is why we are fascinated by animals because we watch how they do it naturally. In somehow identifying with our capacity to do it, we also become frustrated with our incapacity to do it.

For me, healing and artistry go together. In fact, they are inseparable. Healing is a creative process and creativity is a healing process. That is why we go to plays and movies and museums and listen to music. The creativity that is involved in everything that we experience actually helps us in our own healing processes. When we do it together, like at a concert or in a movie theater, it is a whole collective healing experience. When you are sitting in a great movie or a great concert and everybody is rising up together, it is part of that creative journey.

With my film Come Hell or High Water, it is a healer who is the director but also in front of the camera leading, not just a healing journey for the trauma survivors I brought down to New Orleans and for the Katrina survivors that we worked with, but for hopefully for everybody that gets a chance to see the film. They will literally get to go on a healing journey with us and feel like they are in the van, driving down twenty three hours from New York to New Orleans and going out to Lakeview and the lower ninth ward and other areas that have never even made the news.

It is a matter of giving people real life experience.

The film is not meant to be serious or a "bummer". It is meant to be a rollercoaster, creative journey in life that we all go through.

I could not do the work that I do and I couldn't create a film like this without an understanding from my own personal traumas. We can help somebody heal from the inside, but not from the outside. People just know when you know - the helplessness, the isolation, the pain. Pain, trauma pain, is physical. Not just because of the symptoms - the flashbacks or whatever. We call it pain and we don't call it pain by accident. Emotional pain is physical pain. That is why you can't heal emotional pain without attending to the body, which is holding it and expressing it.

DR: How would you define your life purpose?

DG: To live it and to live it fully; to live it boldly and hopefully wisely. To never lose sight of myself while I am never losing sight of those around me.

If you just focus on yourself then you are very limited. If you just focus on everybody else you are limited in the same way, on the flip side.

We relate to others through ourselves.

I like to see my life as a wave at the beach or at the ocean, that as it goes, there are waves that are ahead of it and waves that are behind it, and it has power and actual force to it and that it changes as it goes. Eventually when it reaches the shore it has an impact and then the wave recedes. For every wave that we see coming out, there is a wave underneath going back. So the journey continues subliminally, but the wave that has its connection to the wave ahead of it and the way behind it, ripples. It affects other waves and other people.

In our narcissism, we think that in order to not be forgotten when we pass away, that people have to remember us specifically for who we are and what we did and all of our pictures and all this stuff and plaques…

In our more communal selves, as members of the animal kingdom, it is the effect that we have on other people, especially the subliminal effect, that lives on and on.

To keep on returning to that wisdom is something that I work at.

I'd like to serve as a role model for people, not

"This is how you do it on an elevated level"


"This is how you do it on a healing level".

Emotional Healing at Warp Speed
"This riveting book reads like a novel, using intriguing stories that unravel the mystery of how EMDR works to get beyond the brain to the heart of healing the whole Self. As an actor, artist, humanitarian, and mother, I am heartened by Dr. Grand's success in healing trauma and helping people open up to new levels of creativity and performance. His breakthrough book paints a bright picture for healing in the new millennium." Jane Seymour, Actress

"In this eloquent book, David Grand masterfully demonstrates both the technique and the theory of one of the most powerful new tools for psychotherapeutic treatment. While previous books on EMDR have tended to focus on pragmatics, Grand convincingly demonstrates that EMDR is a tool that can and must be integrated into a broader regimen to be fully effective. His dazzling stories of patient recovery are exciting to read and give hope for many people who are suffering unremitting psychic pain or who are undergoing agonizingly slow recovery from major trauma. This book lies at the cutting edge of modern treatment for the mind." Andrew Solomon, Author, Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, New York Times Contributing Writer

"Emotional Healing at Warp Speed introduces us to a whole new level of miraculous healing that is going to be commonplace in the new century. Share this book with all the people you care about!" Carol Adrienne, Ph.D., Co-author with James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy: An Experiential Guide and The Tenth Insight: An Experiential Guide, Author, Find Your Purpose, Change Your Life and The Purpose of Your Life

"After reading the chapter in this book entitled Tales From the Rails, I had tears in my eyes but they were tears of joy knowing that over 150 railroad engineers no longer have to fight the demons that go along with Post Accident Stress Syndrome and I have also made a new friend and found out that EMDR is a long lasting treatment. I found relief from my pain and stopped blaming myself after placing myself in Dr. Grand's hands and participating in EMDR. It is a lasting experience and I have made a friend for life." Bob Franke, Chairman of Engineers Helping Engineers, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Division 269


The fact is that no matter what I know or what I do, I have to work at things as hard as anybody else, maybe even a little harder.

Achievement and success don't relieve one of all of the daily struggles and foibles that we have to put up with, that are there throughout our lives.

DR: Is there anything that you want now that you don't have?

DG: Because I have been an artist all my life and because I have moved into the healing arts, pure artistry is something that is burned inside of me all the way through.

Now through my writing and film making and playwriting and coaching actors and singers and dancers, with all of the things that I know about the body and the brain, to be able to devote more and more of my time to pure creativity and to the artist that has been there inside of me for the longest, not getting the chance to express himself -

it is a big itch that needs to be scratched by a small finger.

It is really to be able to break out of the office and to be able to have my creativity touch others on a larger basis. In practical terms, to succeed at it so that I can then get support to do more of the artistry and hopefully bigger and better things.

DR: Share with me, what for you, is a source of inspiration.

DG: I always work at keeping in my consciousness those who help make things happen for me. Terrie Williams is the reason that we are sitting here together right now. Terrie brought us together. She is not only a public relations professional with her own firm, but she is a trained social worker.

Jut like I wear two hats, Terrie does too. Her devotion to causes is something that brought us together and something that has built a beautiful bond between the two of us. I want to mention Terrie because she serves as an inspiration and a role model for me. Her Stay Strong Foundation is the exemplification of taking a positive intention and turning it into a reality. The idea of helping people, especially young people who need support and guidance, most of all a human touch, well, Terrie is a master of the human touch; although she moves so fast it's hard to keep up with her…


When you can catch her you will get that human touch.

The reason that she is always moving so fast is that she is always going some place to make it happen. Her idea of helping people to face their own vulnerabilities, their own traumas, their own depression and anxiety, especially young people is inspiring. They are the fruit of the tree of the future.

I just want to make a special mention of Terrie and to thank her, not only for my sake but for your sake, for putting this moment together and for whatever the next moment is going to be.

DR: Yes. Absolutely…

DG: I need those inspiration infusions. It takes a lot of energy to do what I do. We all need role models and mentors and Terrie serves as that for me.

DR: A hundred years from now what do you want to be remembered for?

DG: That --

"He was a good guy. He was a regular guy"

To whatever degree I am able to do what many people can't do now, to whatever degree I am known by people in my field and outside of my field, to whatever degree that I will be known on a higher level, I want to be known as a regular guy, just like anybody else, and someone who can represent that -

No matter what you do, you are still just a "regular old human being".

Thanks David!

Head back to the top.