Have you ever noticed yourself gazing or starting at a spot off at the distance, on the floor or on the wall next to you? Have you noticed yourself looking away when you have to think about something or how you want to say something, especially when it’s an emotionally intense conversation? When we do it, sometimes we can feel self conscious and force ourselves to make eye contact – did you now that sometimes those moments where you are gazing are helping you process by accessing deep neural connections and memories in the subcortical brain? Subcortical is the brainstem and limbic parts of your brain. Brainspotting is based on premise that the position of your eye is important, that affects how you feel. Within the clinical and therapeutic relationship allows clients to locate, process and release experiences and symtoms that are in the subconscious mind.
DEFINITION Brainspotting is an integrative psychotherapy approach or technique that has been researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma, negative thoughts, tough emotions and upsetting events. Clients focus their visual field on a spot that stimulates processing. Brainspot is a point in visual space that a client has a strong reaction to.
Brainspotting is ideal for clients who might become overwhelmed easily. Brainspotting is body based, brain based, relationship based and mindfulness based.
ORIGIN Brainspotting was discovered in 2003 by David Grand, who was then known nationally as a trainer & therapist in the EMDR field. Brainspotting was discovered by Grand, out of his EMDR training and clinical work. Grand developed BSP out of EMDR, and unconconvered where you look effects how you feel.
HOW IT WORKS Therapist and client work together to find a “brainspot” or eye position that is connected to a specific emotional response, target or event. The “brainspot” or eye position that is related to the emotional activation of a traumatic or emotionally charged issue within your brain. Once there, the therapist and client allow the client’s brain to make the connections needed to process the event. The position of the client’s eyes, or where their gaze is directed can sometimes unlock deeper insights. Bilateral sound enhaces the brain’s ability to process by stimulating each cerebral hemisphere.
Our office has one therapist who has been trained in Brainspotting. The trainings provided this clinician with the foundation and skills to integrate Brainspotting into their counseling practice, as well as introducing more concepts which activate the vagus nerve through the ocularcardiac reflex.
- Jennie Wilson LPC
- Phase 2 completed (lecture & practicums)
- Population: Children
Effective treatments for generalized anxiety disorder (compares CBT, EMDR and Brainspotting)
Ready to begin Brainspotting?
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of problems can brainspotting treat
Brainspotting can help with any of these:
- Truama and Abuse, including developmental Trauma
- Flashbacks (reoccuring memories)
- Relationship Pain (problems and wounds)
- Grief and Loss (being stuck in this state)
- Depression, Bipolor
- Negative self esteem
- Panic, Anxiety and Phobias
- Improving Performance, Performance anxiety, overcoming blocks
- Anger Management
- Chronic Pain (not due to injury)
- Addiction and Compulsive Behaviors
How is brainspotting different than talk therapy?
A “neurotypical” child’s brain grows in stages… brainstem, midbrain/limbic and then frontal cortex.
Our brainstem grows first, this allows them to sleep, breathe, sensory, etc.
Our limbic system is next, this allows them to feel emotions, create memories, build habits
Our frontal cortex, is the part of the brain that is wise, thinking logical, rational and where language is stored.
Talk therapy, or CBT uses the frontal cortex to process in therapy, when dysregulated, activated, triggered, it can be difficult or impossible to process in our frontal cortex…braispotting targets the lower parts of the brain. Brainspotting apperas to access the limbic system and the brainstem.
Why would I want to bring up painful memories?
Many are afraid of confronting their painful memories in fear that it will make things worse for them. We, as professionals have found that when painful memories are avoided, they keep their power, their negative affect in our lives. Flashbacks and nightmares are upsetting and not helpful. In Brainspotting, the client can confront or face these tough memories in a safe place, not feeling as overwhelmed.
What happens if a painful or scary memory comes up during Brainspotting
That is okay. Counseling is a safe space to handle those tough moments, the therapist is there to support you. If the client doesn’t feel safe or not ready, that is okay, they are in control.
How will I know that Brainspotting is working?
In many cases, clients will experience less anxiety, fewer flashbacks or nightmares, more enjoyable mood, as well as the ability to think about a traumatic event without feeling tension or activation in his or her body. Your therapist will check in with you each session to see how you are feeling.
What can I expect to feel after each session of Brainspotting?
Clients report feeling differently after sessions. Some clients report what thoughts or memoriest that used to trigger “activate” them may not do that anymore or may not do that to the level of intensity as it had done before.
Other clients report that they might feel calmer or more relaxed. Clients feel more in tune with how they are feelng day to day.
Is Brainspotting similar to hypnosis?
Brainspotting is different from hypnosis in a few ways. The most important difference being with Brainspotting the client is fully conscious and aware during the entire process, putting them directly in the driver’s seat of their own therapy.
Will I be in control?
Absolutely, during Brainspotting, the client is always in control. It can be hard to predict the feelings or thoughts or memories that might come up during session, however it is up to the client whether they continue with the process or stop in that moment. The client determines what is verbally said.
Will the therapist touch my eyes?
No. The therapist will not touch their client’s eyes, nor will the client touch their own eyes. This is a concern that many new clients have, they feel like the therapist will touch their eyes or somehow mess with their vision or eye sight. They fear it might be difficult for them to see clearly afterwards.