Brainspotting is a brain-body-based therapy that was developed in 2003 by Dr. David Grand. Brainspotting is not the first or only brain-based therapy of its kind, as Dr. Grand originally developed the modality using insights gained from his extensive EMDR work and knowledge in other somatic approaches.
At Enlightened Solutions, we opt to use brainspotting due to its flexible and client centered approach. Additionally, brainspotting has been shown to be less likely to over-stimulate the client while processing emotionally charged material. Through the use of a visual access point, often combined with “biolateral” sound, brainspotting allows the therapist to assist the client in addressing unprocessed trauma in a much deeper way than traditional talk therapy. Brainspotting can also be used to address a number of psychological and somatic issues and is not just used for trauma alone.
Dr. Grand describes brainspotting as a “Brain-body-mindfulness-based-relational therapy”. What this means is that this method is focused around several main points: the connection between brain and body, our ability to mindfully experience and process our emotions and sensations, and the relational aspect between therapist and client that occurs on a deep, neurobiological level.
When individuals experience a trauma, the processing capacity of the brain is overwhelmed. This results in aspects of the experience (feelings, beliefs, sensations) becoming stuck, encapsulated, and unprocessed in the subcortex of our brains. This is the area of the brain responsible for our emotions, our survival responses, and our physical sensations. In this part of the brain there is no language and no sense of time. This helps to explain why many trauma survivors have difficulty processing and resolving the impact through talk therapy and continue to experience distressing effects long after the trauma has occurred. Brainspotting allows the client to process these experiences in a safe and contained manner without necessarily needing to “talk about it”.
Through the use of a visual access point, or a “brainspot” which directly correlates to the encapsulated trauma, this therapy is able to circumvent the conscious and “thinking” parts of our brains that can normally interfere with access to the emotional parts. Through brainspotting we learn to bring awareness to our inner experience gradually, while remaining within our safe window of tolerance in a supportive, therapeutic environment.
Brainspotting also uses what is referred to as “dual attunement”, referring to the two types of attunement involved. First is attunement on the neurobiological level. Secondly, is attunement experienced at a relational level between therapist and client. For the majority of people that come into treatment, learning to regulate emotions and physiological experiences has been severely interrupted by use of substances as well as external and often traumatic experiences. Safety is something many may not have experienced in a long time, if ever. Brainspotting helps to re-wire this disconnected system. As babies, we all look to learn how to regulate our autonomic nervous systems through relationships with our caregivers. However, there are many things that can occur that cause interruptions in learning to effectively regulate. Through dual attunement in brainspotting, the clinician aids the client in regaining and rebuilding this ability.
In a study following individuals impacted by the traumatic events at Sandy Hook comparing 16 different treatment approaches, brainspotting was found to be the most effective therapy.
A core belief of this therapy is that our brains have the capacity to heal, it is a matter of learning how to harness and access this ability through the support of a trained clinician. We are resilient at our core. Brainspotting allows the therapist to help the client tap into this resiliency and create positive and permanent change at a deep level. To learn more, contact us today.