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Brainspotting: A Powerful Therapeutic Technique for Trauma and More

Have you ever noticed yourself simply gazing or staring at some spot on the floor or wall or ceiling? Have you noticed yourself looking away or up or somewhere else when really thinking about something you are saying or want to say, particularly when the subject is loaded emotionally? As a therapist, I notice this all the time. Clients often become unnecessarily self-conscious about it and force themselves to make eye contact with me. While their gaze continues to drift back to these spots, they do not allow themselves to hold the spot. What they don’t realize is that rather than avoiding eye contact, they are intuitively helping themselves to process by accessing deep neural connections and memories in the subcortical brain. 

I am super excited about Brainspotting as a new (to me) technique. It is a therapeutic technique for processing traumas, negative cognitions, and difficult emotions. Brainspotting was developed out of EMDR, discovered (as all the best therapeutic theories and techniques are) by paying attention to clients. It is also related to sensorimotor psychotherapy, somatic experiencing, lifespan integration, mindfulness, and even internal family systems therapies. It is considered a process that provides deeper and accelerated resolutions that are more powerful and comprehensive that other techniques, including EMDR. In fact 90% of clients have shown significant improvement in just three sessions (Hildebrand et al., 2014). 

One child declared “it is awesome” as he progressed from anger to happiness in just five minutes. An adult client was wowed in her brief introduction to Brainspotting, saying, “this really works” and “this is spooky”.

While Brainspotting can sound and feel like magic, there is a lot of science behind it. I have always loved neuropsychology and studied it just because I loved it, although I won’t likely be able to name all of the many different parts of the brain involved in Brainspotting. Luckily it is a “physiological approach with psychological consequences” that allows us to access our self-healing potential via bypassing the thinking of the neocortex and “promotes organization and integration through coalescence of hitherto separated information files”; “a Brainspot is a stored oculomotor orientation to a traumatic experience which has failed to integrate” (Corrigan & Grand 2013). Who doesn't to feel like Wolverine and discover the confidence of knowing you have the capability to heal? I also very much appreciate that it is an “open, integrative, ever-evolving model” and the humility of the founder David Grand, Ph.D. In addition, I chose to study Brainspotting rather than EMDR because it is appropriate for more clients, particularly those who can be overstimulated; it is flexible allowing us to find the specific iteration of Brainspotting that works best for you. 

For more information check out the video beland the other videos at Brainspotting International

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