What Is Brainspotting And Can It Help Me?
This blog is an introduction to this exciting new therapy that I am now able to offer called Brainspotting. When I first heard about Brainspotting, I was intrigued. Now that I have completed phases 1 and 2 of the Brainspotting training, I am convinced.
This revolutionary new therapy to help clients get “unstuck” is powerful, especially for those who aren’t making progress with talk therapy alone. It’s common in therapy to have clients who are “blocked.” They can’t talk about and work through their sadness, anxiety, fear, depression, or inability to move forward because they honestly don’t know what is behind it. You can’t work through a memory or emotion you can’t access. But we’re learning things about the brain and how it works that now can help therapists “unblock” those memories and emotional experiences locked in the unconscious so that clients can work through them and get the positive changes they desire.
What Is Brainspotting?
Brainspotting, or BSP for short, was developed by Dr. David Grand in 2003 out of his work with trauma. Dr. Grand was trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which uses eye movement to process trauma. While doing EMDR, he noticed that holding certain eye positions allowed clients to access previously inaccessible emotions or memories and work through them. He also found that there were certain spots where, when the clients’ eyes focused there, activated positive emotions. This gave birth to Brainspotting, which has now been scientifically proven to alleviate painful emotions associated with distressing memories or experiences, allowing clients to move forward. It has been found to be effective for many issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, mental blocks, physical pain.
Brainspotting can be summed up in one phrase: “Where you look affects how you feel.” The therapist works with the client while the client moves his or her eyes. When the therapist notices an increase in involuntary eye or body movements such as blinking, swallowing, yawning, or twitching, that is an indication of a brainspot. A brainspot is the spot where the brain is holding a distressing memory or emotion. Trauma gets stored in certain “spots” in the brain, which can be accessed by the eyes. Just like our eyes scan the outside world for information, they can also scan inside our brains for those places where trauma is stuck. That spot is called the brainspot.
Brainspotting bypasses the part of the brain that controls reasoning and goes directly to the part of the brain that regulates emotions. When clients hold their eyes on that brainspot and notice the sensations in their body, while listening through headphones to music that engages both hemispheres of the brain, their nervous system is calmed and they are able to process their emotions and memories in a way that rewires the brain. Rather than focusing on thoughts as therapists typically do with therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that works to counter false thoughts and beliefs with truth, Brainspotting bypasses thoughts and focuses on bodily sensations to reprogram the brain.
Why Does Brainspotting Work Where Talk Therapy Doesn’t?
Talk therapy does work when clients are able to talk about why they feel the way they do and then work through it. But when trauma or major distress happens in a person’s life, it overloads the brains ability to process it. So, instead of processing it, the brain stores it and sort of “bubble-wraps” it in order to protect the person from it. This is why people with trauma can’t just get over it. They have anxiety, depression, fear, panic attacks, etc., but they can’t pinpoint the source, can’t dig it up so they can deal with it and move on. They know what happened, but the painful emotions are buried in the “subcortical,” or deep brain. Simply talking about it with a therapist can’t access this part of the brain.
In a nutshell, traditional talk therapy works with the frontal cortex of the brain that controls reasoning, judgment, and conversation. But trauma isn’t stored in the frontal cortex. So, Brainspotting bypasses the cortex and goes to the sub cortex where the trauma is stored and then uncovers the painful memories and experiences.
Can Brainspotting Help You?
Brainspotting is based on sound brain science. While it is still a new therapy, studies are showing that it is at least as effective, and some studies show that it is more effective, than EMDR. It has been found to be particularly effective with trauma, which has been historically difficult to treat with traditional talk therapy and behavioral techniques. By calming the nervous system, which is often overwhelmed by trauma and stress, Brainspotting helps you release the trauma or stress. This makes it effective for helping people reduce stress before or after surgery or in managing major medical issues. It can help with a wide array of issues such as attention issues, stress, anxiety, phobias, and anger. It can reduce addictive cravings. And it can enhance creativity, performance, even public speaking and music.
Brainspotting has also been shown to be effective with children. It was the main therapy used to treat adult and child survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
If you you struggle with any of the following issues, Brainspotting can help you:
Trauma (emotional, physical, sexual)
Anger issues or mood swings
Creativity, Performance, Stage Fright
If you are struggling with trauma or any of the issues I just outlined, I urge you to read more about trauma therapy at Christian Counseling Associates and then reach out to us and ask for me. I will be glad to give you a free consultation about Brainspotting therapy.
A.J. Molina is a Licensed Professional Counselor with Christian Counseling Associates in our Grapevine office. He holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from LeTourneau University. He is also a Certified Life Coach with the Dale Carnegie Highest Achievement Award. He is certified in Brainspotting (BSP). He is also a SYMBIS (Save Your Marriage Before It Starts) Facilitator, as well as a Prepare/Enrich Facilitator. A.J. is a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the Psi Chi International Honor Society. He is taking new clients.