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BRAINSPOTTING: Using The Brain's Natural Ability To Heal
            "Where you look affects how you feel."

                                                                               D. Grand, PhD.

What is Brainspotting?

“The brain is an incredible processing machine that digests and organizes everything we experience. But trauma can overwhelm the brain’s processing capacity, leaving behind pieces of trauma, frozen in an unprocessed state. Brainspotting uses our field of vision to find where we are holding these traumas in our brain. Just as the eyes naturally scan the outside environment for information, they can also be used to scan our inside environments- our brains- for information. Brainspotting uses the visual field to turn the “scanner” back on itself and guide the brain to find lost internal information. By keeping the gaze focused on the specific external spot, we maintain the brain’s focus on the specific internal spot where the trauma is stored, in order to promote the deep processing that leads to the trauma’s release and resolution.” 
                                                                                                                       D. Grand


How will Brainspotting help me?

There are 3 main goals that Brainspotting Therapy aims to accomplish: desensitization, identifying negative cognitions/beliefs, and re-processing using a Brainspot.

1) Desensitization:

One goal is to minimize physical or emotional responses to triggers that set off a downward spiral, a feeling of anxiety or loss of control (for example, hearing a loud noise that triggers fear associated with a past car accident). Brainspotting helps you to become “desensitized” to the loud noise so that your response is no longer fear-based, and you are able to re-process any associated irrational thoughts (i.e. “I’m in danger” to “I am safe now”).

2) Identifying Negative Cognitions/Beliefs:
The goal here is to identify the source of the unwanted response. Some people have repressed their traumatic experiences as a way of coping. Some have minimized the impact of the traumatic experience and are not aware of the connection between a traumatic event and the emotional/physical response. Consequently, negative perceptions/beliefs of self - referred to as “negative cognitions” take root and hinder daily functioning.  For example, if I believe I am permanently damaged, my level of motivation may be compromised.   In my clinical experience, individuals typically express relief when they identify and understand how their negative cognitions are rooted and intertwined with their traumatic experience. Brainspotting Therapy provides a therapeutic process to facilitate letting go of negative cognitions that can now be replaced with positive cognitions, reflecting a sense of hope and empowerment. Wow! What a transition!

3) Re-Processing Using A Brainspot

This goal refers to re-processing a traumatic event that was frozen in the initial unprocessed state and stored in memory. Through re-processing, the brain is able to “digest” the details of the traumatic event. A brainspot is used to find a pathway to where the traumatic event and associated disturbances are stored in the brain. To locate your brainspot, you will be asked to focus your thoughts on the target as you stare at a tip of a pointer that is slowly moved across your visual field.  As your eyes track the moving pointer, you will have a reflex response. Your strongest reflex response provides a visual signal for the therapist that the source of the problem has been located. The therapist then holds the pointer steady in that location (brainspot) as you think of your target. Focusing on the tip of the pointer also encourages your attention to switch from scanning the environment to scanning internally.

It was discovered that re-processing can be strengthened by listening to soothing sounds that intentionally alternate from one ear to the other, thereby accessing both the right and left sides of the brain. This is referred to as bilateral stimulation. You will be given earphones to wear while listening to soothing music as you are re-processing. Keep in mind the brain and body naturally maintain a physiological stability known as homeostasis; however, trauma can overwhelm the brain’s processing capacity. Fearful thoughts can sometimes cause you to re-experience associated physical sensations. During re-processing, individuals are relieved by the movement of the associated physical sensations as these sensations start to dissipate and leave the body. For example, an individual may initially report discomfort/tightness/pain in the stomach and as re-processing continues, report that the discomfort has moved into the chest area, and then later report the discomfort is greatly reduced or is no longer causing any discomfort…another phenomenon of Brainspotting Therapy.

What Issues Can Brainspotting Therapy Help?

Initially designed to address trauma-related symptoms, Brainspotting is also effective in treating any emotional and/or somatic issue. A lot of refinement has occurred in Brainspotting Therapy since its development in 2003. In my own clinical practice, I combine Brainspotting Therapy with components from other therapies as needed. Your feedback is the best measure on how effective Brainspotting is for you. Below is a suggested list of conditions that Brainspotting may help. This list will continue to grow.  

  • Trauma (all types)
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Attention issues (ADHD)
  • Impulse control issues
  • Anger issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Performance issues, including sports performance
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic pain

If your issue is not listed, please call me to discuss further.

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