What is Brainspotting?
“Where you look affects how you feel.”
There are various ways to uncover and process core issues. Talk is helpful, however to go deeper, brainspotting can help heal what is going on below the surface. Like the analogy of the iceberg, we see what is above the water in talk therapy, but not what is underneath. Brainspotting helps us get to what is underneath.
A brainspot is a visual spot connected to memory or thoughts. For example, if you are sitting across from someone and ask them where is their favorite place to get coffee, their eyes will most likely look at a spot above your head. 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, frightening or traumatic 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 also then diminishes or distorts 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. In the end, you will still have the memories, but they will no longer be as upsetting; you may still have present-day situations which are challenging, but they will no longer be triggering; rather situations will feel more manageable because you will feel more grounded, balanced and empowered.
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, depression, emotional or relational distress, confusion or lack of clarity on an issue, chronic pain or disease, unresolved grief and loss, or other adjustment concerns.
What does a Brainspotting session look like?
Before our first BSP session, I will take time to explain the method to you and answer any questions you have.
Once the client has an awareness of an issue, the therapist asks where the activation (the feeling) is in the body such as in the chest, stomach or throat, then asks the client to assign a number between 0-10 for the level of activation for this issue.
Then the therapist moves a pointer across the client’s visual field and asks where the client feels the most activation. They stop on the spot the client chooses and then begin to process the material from there. The therapist checks in with the client as the client processes images, memories, thoughts, and sensations as they arise.
BSP sessions are either planned ahead of time or agreed upon at the beginning of a session. If we decide to use BSP in that session, the majority of the session is dedicated to using the BSP method (30-45 minutes), with time at the end of session (5-10 minutes) to debrief.
The client is always “in the driver seat” of a BSP session, and can always take a break or choose to stop for any reason.
What are the risks of Brainspotting?
Clients may cry and/or feel tired. 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 or prefer 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.
- Many complex issues may be resolved in 6-10 BSP sessions, making it an efficient method and affordable commitment.
I am not interested in Brainspotting… Can I still see you for therapy?
Yes! I do not use BSP with all my clients. And even if BSP is my recommendation, I always trust the client to decide if BSP is something they would like to try or continue.