What is Brainspotting Therapy?

A common question is “What is Brainspotting?” Brainspotting is still fairly new in the world of treatment and psychology so it makes sense that many people outside of these fields have not heard about it. Brainspotting locates points in the client’s visual field that help to access unprocessed trauma in the subcortical brain. Brainspotting (BSP) was discovered by David Grand, Ph.D in 2003. Dr. Grand was a long time practitioner of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Somatic experiencing (SE) and other evidence based practices for treating trauma. The discovering of Brainspotting made clear that “Where you look affects how you feel.” Brainspotting make use of the natural phenomenon through relevant eye positions. The BSP therapist locates, focuses, processes, and releases a wide range of emotionally and bodily-based conditions. It is believed that BSP taps into and harnesses the body’s natural self-scanning, self-healing ability. 

In addition, Brainspotting provides a neurobiological tool for accessing, diagnosing, and treating a wide range of somatic and emotionally based conditions. It seems that Brainspotting acts as a stimulant to the body’s own natural ability to heal itself from trauma. 

How does Brainspotting work?

Brainspotting works by accessing memories deep in the brain and body through its direct access to the autonomic and limbic systems within the central nervous system. Brainspotting is a physiological treatment which has profound psychological, emotional, and physical consequences.

Within the field of psychology, research has suggested that when someone experiences trauma, whether it is emotional or physical, it is held in the body. Traumatic experiences become stored in the body typically because the traumatized person has not had the means to properly deal with the trauma that was experienced. 

What is a “Brainspot?”

David Grand explains that a brainspot is the eye position which is related to the energetic/emotionally charged issue within the brain, most likely in the amygdala, the hippocampus, or the orbitofrontal cortex of the limbic system. Located by eye position, paired with externally observed and internally experienced reflexive responses. A brainspot is actually a physiological subsystem holding emotional experience in memory form.

Brainspotting has been successful in treating:

  • Physical and emotional Trauma
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Recovery from injury and accident trauma 
  • Trauma resulting from medical intervention and treatment
  • Stress and trauma-related medical illness
  • Performance and Creativity enhancement
  • Chronic pain
  • Addictions
  • Phobias

What if I don’t have Trauma?

We all have experienced trauma in some capacity. Trauma can range from distressing events, adverse childhood experiences, unmet emotional needs, or abuse and neglect.

Could Brainspotting Help Me?

Brainspotting is a therapeutic tool for everyone with a variety of issues. If you are new to therapy and are looking for a way to change patterns of behavior, Brainspotting can help resolve the emotional and physical pain that keeps you stuck in those patterns.

If you have attended traditional talk therapy for years and haven’t found much relief in your distressing symptoms, Brainspotting can often help you go deeper to heal those wounds.

Brainspotting is a useful technique if you have things you can’t shift on your own, feel stuck, or if you have experienced a traumatic event. The client and trained therapist work together to identify the source of your distress, unlock them, give freedom to release them, and find healing within. Brainspotting can be a great fit if you are looking for a more holistic approach that does not require you to fully put words to the past experiences to gain relief.

What does a Brainspotting Session Look Like?

The Brainspotting Practitioner begins by making sure they have answered any and all questions the client might have about the Brainspotting process. Next, the therapist will have the client put on headphones that are playing Bilateral Sound Music at a very low volume. Bilateral sound music is a type of bilateral stimulation used to enhance visualization and processing.  

The Therapist will then ask the client about the issue or focus they wish to work on today. The client will begin to share details from the event or issue just enough to begin to experience some physiological activation. The therapist will guide the client to locating where they are experiencing this issues or emotion in their bodies and at what level of intensity, also know as the SUD’s (Subjective Units of Disturbance).  Next, the therapist will work with the client to access and locate the brainspot. Means for accessing the Brainspot depends on the client and their preference. There are several models that can be utilized to assist the client in processing.

Brainspotting Models for Processing:

  • Outside Window Brainspotting
  • Inside Window Brainspotting
  • Resource Model Brainspotting
  • Gazespotting

The first 3 models (Outside Window, Inside Window, and Resource model) all involve the therapist using a pointer to access and identify the brainspot. Once the brainspot in identified through reflexive cues in the body or the client’s self-report about where they feel most activation the processing begins through a focused mindfulness practice. 

The therapist’s relationship with the client in Brainspotting is very unique and highly attuned. The therapist is gentling following and tracking the client every step of the way. The client is the head of the comet and the therapist is the tail in this approach. Each client processing will look different  and there is not right or wrong way to process. Some client are very verbal and process out loud and other clients process silently by internally processing the experience. 

There is time left at the end of each session to reevaluate how the issues is feeling now and we gather a new SUD’s level. The client is able to process verbally anything they wish to share prior to leaving session. The most remarkable part of Brainspotting is that once a session is finished the Brainspotting work continues. Over the course of the next week as the client is meditating, working out, or sleeping their brain will continue to process and integrate this new information. 

Please give us a call today to speak with a Brainspotting Practitioner to determine if this method seems like a good fit for you.