What Is Brainspotting Therapy?
Brainspotting is a type of brain-based, body-centered psychotherapy that helps you identify and work through emotional pain and memories linked to trauma. Going further than traditional talk therapy, brainspotting directly accesses the limbic system (the emotion center of the brain), which is responsible for the fight, flight and freeze sensations we have when confronted by danger or threat. Brainspotting supports the regulation of your nervous system—and ultimately helps calm panic, fear and difficult or overwhelming emotions such as anger, grief, shame, and guilt.
Brainspotting features a large variety of applications ranging from anxiety and trauma treatment to grief, loss and stress management. So, whether you have experienced painful loss, trauma or abuse, or have trouble dealing with the overwhelming stress that work, relationships or the inevitable challenges that life can generate, brainspotting can accelerate the healing process. In 2003, David Grand PhD, a psychotherapist trained in EMDR therapy, developed brainspotting therapy based on his work with trauma survivors and athletes negatively impacted by sports injuries. Today, brainspotting is a rapidly growing field of psychotherapy with over 12,000 therapists trained worldwide.
How Does Brainspotting Therapy Work?
The human brain is naturally receptive to change despite the harmful effects of painful experiences. Brainspotting accesses the brain’s natural resilience and neuro-plasticity and can alleviate the stress of managing anxiety, dealing with loss and resolving traumatic events. The brainspotting process works to remap neural connections linking behavior and emotions to experiences and memories.
During a brainspotting session, we begin by using bilateral sound as I invite you to listen to recordings of soothing music and sounds of nature on a set of headphones. The music alternates sound between the left and right ear. Research shows that bilateral sound enhances regulation of the nervous system: however, brainspotting is also effective without bilateral sound if for any reason you prefer to work without the headphones. Drawing on somatic therapy techniques, I then prompt you to turn your attention to an area of your life where you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed while noticing sensations of comfort or discomfort arising in your body.
Locating a Brainspot
Using a pointer to guide your line of sight, I then ask you to notice changes in the intensity of your emotions and physical sensations in your body as your eye position shifts from point to point. Based on your responses and my observations, I determine activated eye positions, referred to as brainspots. Once I find a brainspot, I’ll invite you to hold a steady gaze on that spot as you continue to observe your thoughts, emotions and physical responses. In doing so, we engage the limbic system and begin to process unconscious or emotionally charged material connected to the issue for which you are seeking relief.
Harnessing the Body’s Natural Healing Capacities
The beauty of brainspotting’s therapeutic process is you don’t have to figure out how to change or understand your thoughts, emotions or behaviors rationally or logically. With brainspotting, we find the brainspot connected to a painful experience or emotion and allow the brain and body to experience and reprocess associations related to the stressful or traumatic issue affecting you. As you begin to focus on the issue while looking at the pointer, the nervous system begins a process that moves you toward a state of closure. Once you reach a point where the issue no longer causes emotional distress, you naturally experience a new sense of resolution, peace and freedom.
The Best Way Out Is Always Through – Robert Frost
When dealing with the residual effects of trauma or difficult emotions, it can be tempting to avoid thinking about or ignore the discomfort connected to the experience rather than dealing directly with the problem. But simply put, resolving traumatic events and managing overwhelming emotions through avoidance doesn’t work in the long run. There is wisdom in our emotions and we can honor our feelings by learning from them: brainspotting can be of tremendous assistance in accomplishing that.
Often, in remarkably little time, you can generate greater emotional self-regulation and experience a release from overwhelming fear, sadness, guilt or shame. The feelings of anger, pain, hopelessness and powerlessness associated with the pain of the past, the challenges of the present and the anxieties about the future can recede as your overactive nervous system begins to calm. Ultimately, you can navigate the challenges in your life and accomplish your goals without the hindrance of past trauma or a stressed out nervous system.
My Approach to Brainspotting
I strive to create a relaxed environment to support the innate healing capacity within your body and brain. In our sessions, I encourage you to get comfortable and to be an active participant. I invite you to let your gut and intuition guide you during the sessions. As we begin, I ask you to choose what you’d like to focus on—an experience that feels unresolved, a challenge within a relationship, a habit you would like to break, an overwhelming emotion or whatever feels most relevant.
I then provide a basic overview of the neuroscience of the brain and the brainspotting process. Then we move into the experience of brainspotting as an organic process. In other words, we are not forcing something to happen nor do we know where the session will lead. You will always be in charge, working at your own pace. As we work with a brainspot, you may notice sensations arising in your body such as tightness in the throat, heaviness in the chest or tension in the neck, shoulders or back. The sensation may intensify but then settle. Memories, images, associations may surface and fade. Or you may feel very little.
There is no experience we are trying to evoke and no right or wrong way to do brainspotting. We are creating a receptive and relaxed environment so that whatever will be most helpful for the healing process can naturally unfold. So, for example, if you feel an impulse to close your eyes, lie back or move your body, I invite you to follow the impulse and notice what happens or where it leads. My purpose is to support your healing and growth process.
I’ve been working as a therapist for over 10 years, helping clients navigate challenges and lead more fulfilling, empowered and joyous lives. Through my own personal experience, I know just how effective brainspotting can be. I fell in love with brainspotting while trying to rebound from a series of losses and stressful circumstances in my life back in 2015. Within just a few sessions, brainspotting helped me relieve my distress and find the sense of empowerment I needed to move forward. I was so impressed with the results that I decided to get training and offer brainspotting in my practice. I have full confidence that brainspotting can help you transform your life for the better.
Begin Your Healing Today
Adversity, loss, uncertainty and change are all part of the human experience and difficult experiences can take their toll on our bodies, brains and our sense of well-being. At times, we are each a bit at the mercy of life’s challenges and may bump up against our limits. Even as we recognize our strengths and see the possibilities for a greater future, sometimes the challenges can get the best of us.
If you are struggling with the effects of trauma or having a difficult time handling an accumulation of stress, anxiety or emotional distress, you don’t have to manage this pain alone. I know that truly sustainable change is possible and that each of us can move beyond our past and experience wholeness, peace and be empowered to overcome whatever life throws our way. I am always honored to support the healing process.
I invite you to contact me at 916 542 1962 (phone) or firstname.lastname@example.org (email) for your free, 20-minute consultation to see if brainspotting therapy is right for you.
To learn more, please watch the short videos below or read about Brainspotting here.
How Can I Support You?
Start your healing journey now! Contact me for a free 20-minute phone consultation or make an appointment today.