Brainspotting (BSP) is a brain-based therapy discovered and developed by David Grand, PhD. According to David Grand, “Where you look affects how you feel.” Brainspotting is fast becoming one of the most sought-after treatments for the resolution of trauma, many other diverse issues and psychological concerns. In BSP, a client is seen as the expert on themselves, with their counselor in a supportive role. The goal of BSP is for a client to access their own self-healing capabilities and help process stored traumas and negative emotions. There is increasing evidence that trauma is “stored” in the body and that can alter the way the brain works.
BSP attempts to reprocess negative emotions by focusing on body-based sensations rather than your thoughts.
How Brainspotting Works
Brainspotting appears to target the right hemisphere (the limbic system) and the brain stem (mid brain). BSP seems to bypass the “thinking” cortex of the brain and directly accesses the deep parts of the brain that are involved in emotional regulation.
A trained Brainspotting practitioner will support you to scan your field of vision to locate a “brainspot.” A “brainspot” is an unconscious, reflexive reaction on a specific eye position. By identifying a brainspot, a client can target an area of focused activation in the brain, directly related to the issue being worked on. While focusing on the brainspot and noticing body sensations associated, a client is able to process negative emotions to help rewire the brain to more positive associations and feelings. This processing may be done using headphones and listening to bilateral sounds/music that rhythmically goes back and forth from the left to right side. Engaging both hemispheres of the brain with the sounds/music can have a calming effect on the nervous system.
Who can benefit from Brainspotting
Brainspotting is a flexible, exploratory, and organic process. In contrast to ongoing talk therapy, a client can expect BSP to be more short term. Some clients find their issue to be resolved very quickly using BSP. Other clients find BSP to be more adjunctive, and use talk therapy to further process and enhance progress made in a Brainspotting session.
BSP can be a helpful therapy in any situation where thinking may get in the way. BSP is great for the over thinkers and those with high levels of anxiety. BSP is especially helpful if a client feels “stuck” on an issue or an issue that is holding them back from moving forward. Brainspotting allows for nonverbal processing, since a client is encouraged to talk as much or as little as they want.