Brainspotting, what’s that? Brainspotting is a gentle yet powerful technique that works with a client’s visual field to access, process, and heal trauma in the brain and the body. Using BSP helps the therapist bypass the conscious, neocortical “thinking brain” to access the deeper, subcortical, emotional and body-based parts of the patient’s brain. Brainspotting facilitates a deep healing and can be effective for a wide variety of emotional and somatic conditions. As a supplemental tool in psychotherapy, BSP is particularly effective for treating trauma-based conditions as it helps identify and heal underlying trauma that contributes to anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and other behavioral conditions. It can also be used for performance and creativity enhancement.
Brainspotting (BSP) was discovered in 2003 by EMDR expert and trainer, David Grand, Ph.D, who says “Where you look affects how you feel” to help explain why holding a fixed eyed position stimulates subcortical brain activity and can be used to process and release stored trauma. Since developing BSP, over 15,000 therapists have been trained in BSP in the United States, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and Africa. During a Brainspotting session, a therapist uses bilateral stimulation and a fixed visual point to activate specific areas of the brain that can facilitate healing from trauma.
What happens in a Brainspotting session? While there are a number of different techniques and nuanced approaches for work with BSP, the following provides a general description:
At the beginning of a BSP session, patients are often asked to put on headphones that play sounds or music in alternating ears. By alternating the sides in which you hear the sound, the midbrain is bilaterally stimulated and activated for the therapy.
Next, the therapist will ask the patient to think about what he or she wants to work on, whether that may be a specific traumatic event or memory, or any upsetting issue that sticks with them and they would like to resolve. The patient may choose to talk about the issue or think about it quietly (whichever is preferred) in order to activate an emotional response.
Once the patient feels activated, attention is directed to any bodily sensations that occur while the therapist scans the patient’s field of vision to locate an appropriate focal point for the Brainspotting. Once the therapist and patient have found a desired, activating “brainspot”, visual focus is held on that point for a period of time. From there, the patient will process in waves of experience that can vary considerably from person to person until the activation experienced at that focal point is greatly diminished or extinguished. One or more than one visual point (activating or resourcing) may be utilized in a single session. While this process may sound simple, it can have surprisingly profound effects on trauma processing and healing.
I have had the honor and privilege to experience and facilitate some amazing healing experiences since beginning my work as a Brainspotting therapist. I am passionate about this work! If you struggle from the lasting effects of emotional or physical trauma, PTSD, or carry unresolved issues or grief that keeps you stuck or limits you, I invite you to come in and see for yourself what BSP can do for you.