What is Brainspotting?
There are various ways to uncover and process core issues. Brainspotting is a therapy tool that can be used in sessions to assist in healing what is going on below the surface.
The term brainspot refers to a visual spot connected to memory or thoughts. For example, if you try to think of the last vacation you took, your eyes will most likely look off towards a spot so you can access the images associated with that vacation.
When we experience an emotionally intense event, it may overwhelm us. If that overwhelm does not naturally resolve, the experience gets ‘stuck’ in the body (the central nervous system) leaving us overly-sensitive and overly-reactive. It can then often distort our sense of self.
Brainspotting works with those stuck memories so they can resume being naturally processed and it seeks to repair and strengthen our sense of self. You will still have the memories and may still have present-day situations which are challenging, but when these emotional memories are processed, the memories or current stressors will not feel as overwhelming to your system.
For more information you can visit https://brainspotting.com/
When is Brainspotting helpful?
BSP is very intuitive and flexible method, so one could potentially use it for a variety of issues. In therapy, common applications would be for PTSD and trauma, anxiety, and depression, though it is a very intuitive and flexible tool and can be utilized for a variety of issues.
Is Brainspotting used in every session?
Not at all. Brainspotting (BSP) is just one tool that can be utilized to work on the core issues that bring you to therapy. It is entirely up to the client if we utilize brainspotting in a session. If we do determine to incorporate brainspotting into therapy, I will take time to explain the method to you and answer any questions you have.
What does Brainspotting look like in a session?
Brainspotting is a very flexible tool, and can be utilized in many ways. It is not a quick fix and often, I will utilize it in a more flexible manner, incorporating it with IFS work.
If we decide to utilize a more “standard” set up of the brainspotting tool, then I begin that session by asking the client to talk about and bring awareness to the target issue that they want to work on. Then, I ask the client to notice where the activation (the feeling) is in the body such as in the chest, stomach or throat. If activation is found in the body, I ask the client to assign a number between 0-10 for the level of activation for this issue.
Once we have the target issue and activation, I move a pointer across the client’s visual field and ask the client to track that feeling of activation and notice if that activation increases at certain places within the visual field. I then stop the pointer on the spot the client chooses and the client can focus in and and become curious about what shows up as they keep their eyes fixed on that particular point. The client then keeps their eyes on that fixed point for several minutes, sometimes for the entire 40-45 minutes of the session. During this time, clients often begin accessing deep cortical processing on the identified issue. Every client is different, so this looks different for everyone. Clients might have visual memories, sensations, feelings arise. As the therapist, I will check in with the client as the they process images, memories, thoughts, and sensations. The client is always “in the driver seat” of a BSP session. They can remain quiet, they can talk, they can move around. When session time is almost over, I will allow for 5-10 minutes to debrief and discuss anything that came up with the client.
What are the risks of Brainspotting?
Sometimes, clients will feel tired or have strong emotional responses in a brainspotting session. Because Brainspotting theorizes that we are connecting to subcortical parts of the brain, the processing that occurs during BSP sessions can continue for days after the session as your brain is working to rewire the connections. I work with clients to feel empowered by and prepared for their sessions so that potential strong feelings remain manageable.
What are the benefits of Brainspotting?
A few main reasons people choose BSP include:
- Because BSP works through the body, clients can often work through very sensitive matters without having to “tell their story” or share material that makes them uncomfortable.
- BSP can be used to target a specific issue or concern.
- BSP can help improve self-awareness, the mind-body connection, self-soothing, and stress-reduction.
- Because BSP works through the body and central nervous system, the client does not have to “know” or “understand” their issues clearly – your body will do the work and knows what to do.
- BSP can be effective for certain concerns and ailments where talk therapy has not been successful.
Additional information ?
I have completed Levels 1, 2 and 3 of Brainspotting training.
If you have any questions about brainspotting, please do not hesitate to ask.