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What is Brainspotting?

A few months ago I was trained in Brainspotting. It is a powerful therapeutic modality, and I am seeing very positive results for my clients. I have been an EMDR therapist for many years but felt a need to learn an additional tool to help my clients. I find that Brainspotting often works deeper and faster than EMDR which is very encouraging for my clients. So what is Brainspotting? David Grand, PhD, the developer of Brainspotting, wrote a detailed explanation, which you can read in detail on his website if you’re interested. Below I will highlight some of his words.

Brainspotting is a physiological approach to therapy with psychological results. It helps us get at material we often cannot reach through words. Brainspotting is a powerful and focused treatment method that works by identifying, processing, and releasing core neuro-physiological sources of emotional/body pain, trauma, dissociation, and a variety of challenging symptoms. It is an offshoot of EMDR (Eye Movement and Desensitization and Reprocessing) and was developed by Dr. David Grand in 2002.

Brainspotting identifies activated eye positions which correspond with the issue of disturbance. It works deep within the limbic system of the brain (deep into the lower mid-brain). Clients can process bodily responses to an incident with or without words. It encourages no assumptions and no judgments and works on the belief that each person is unique and has the innate capacity to heal themselves. The therapist tracks what emerges during Brainspotting sessions, and it is the client’s inner wisdom that guides the process. 

Brainspotting utilizes focused mindfulness and can be extremely effective in treating emotional and stress-related conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A “Brainspot” is hypothesized as activity in the brain and body in response to focus and eye position. It is based on the understanding that “where we look affects how we feel.” It is a physiological capsule holding emotional experience in memory form, like a time capsule. Eye positions can find the time capsule locations and hold the brain’s focus on it. When the brain focuses on a trauma capsule, that trauma begins to release, allowing you to process through it and return to a state of homeostasis.

Among many other things, Brainspotting can be effective treatment for: physical and emotional trauma, anger and rage problems, anxiety and panic, addictions, stress and trauma resulting from medical illness, interventions, and treatment; performance issues including sexual dysfunction, fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions, ADD and ADHD, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, phobias, asthma, preparation and recovery from surgery, management of major medical illness, and symptoms of traumatic brain injury.

What specific results have I seen? I am seeing my own personal Brainspotting therapist and notice my sleep getting better than it’s been in years. With many of my clients I’m seeing a deeper healing of PTSD symptoms and clearing of trauma that we thought was already cleared with EMDR. One client in particular I’ve worked with for a few years because of the nature of her trauma. She’s at a new phase in her life with a husband and children (instant family) and previously unprocessed childhood memories are being brought up and processed through with Brainspotting, faster and deeper. I have another client with chronic illnesses that EMDR was helping, and Brainspotting is helping on an even deeper level to lessen some of her symptoms. 

I am so excited about Brainspotting that I am currently working on certification. I will be taking more training over time so I can learn even more and better ways to help my clients.

Dianne Pulsipher, MA, LPC