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.
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”.
What is Brainspotting and what does it treat?
Brainspotting is a therapeutic technique for processing traumas, negative cognitions, difficult emotions, and upsetting events by focusing your visual field on a spot that stimulates processing. 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). 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.
Why choose Brainspotting?
It is considered a process that provides deeper and accelerated resolutions that are more powerful and comprehensive that other techniques, including EMDR.
90% of clients have shown significant improvement in just three sessions (Hildebrand et al., 2014).
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 parts of the brain involved in Brainspotting.
Who doesn’t want to feel like Wolverine and discover the confidence of knowing you have the capability to heal yourself?
You can talk as much or as little as you want to; you do not have to share your trauma with the therapist for it to be beneficial to you.
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.
Who is Brainspotting for?
You. David Grand who discovered Brainspotting says it can benefit anyone with an active nervous system. It can be used with children and adults, those with deep trauma and those experiencing negative thoughts. It is for those people who feel stuck in therapy, people who want to make progress quickly, and those who are easily overwhelmed. One complaint against EMDR is that it can be too stimulating for some. With Brainspotting, there are more options for resourcing and controlling the intensity of processing. I work with many adoptees - adults and children - and others who have experienced developmental and relational trauma, and I believe Brainspotting is the more appropriate “power therapy” for these individuals. Brainspotting can help with any of these:
- Developmental Trauma
- Relationship Pain
- Grief and Loss
- Anxiety and Phobias
- Improving Performance
- Anger Management
- Negative Self-assessment
How do I use Brainspotting?
Brainspotting can be used as an add-on to your current therapy or as your sole therapy. During the Brainspotting process, you can talk as much or as little as you want to; you do not have to share your trauma with the therapist for it to be beneficial to you. If you are currently working with a therapist, I am happy to share information with them at your request.