WHAT IS BRAINSPOTTING?
Brainspotting is a patient-led, focused, mindfulness technique that allows the brain to heal itself.
Brainspotting looks and feels very different than other therapy approaches even though it incorporates techniques and theories from other modalities.
Unlike other modalities, this type of trauma work can be done with minimal talking, and patients are not asked to share verbally (unless they find that helpful). Ideal for any concern you find “triggering”, this technique can be very effective and produce relief so that trauma loses its power over the present.
Not only can Brainspotting help the brain heal from trauma and nervous system dysregulation, but Brainspotting can also help you if you feel “stuck” so that you can achieve clarity, growth, and peace.
Brainspotting is one of my favorite ways to work with clients. I find including Brainspotting in our work together helps clients who have not responded to other treatments or medication.
The brain has the power to heal from trauma so that you can live in the present where joy occurs.
It doesn't have to be this hard.
Depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, or general feelings of being overwhelmed, can lead to physical and emotional symptoms. These struggles affect self-confidence, relationships, and overall well-being.
WHAT IS SUBCORTICAL PROCESSING?
Thanks for asking!
- Subcortical processing refers to a “bottom-up” approach to processing.
- By using the eyes with the position of your gaze, you are able to access your midbrain where regulation occurs.
- In Brainspotting this happens by noticing the way your body responds to certain memories or experiences and then locating the position of your gaze where you best connect with this information. You may have noticed the way your eyes naturally do this when someone asks you a question or you “get stuck staring” while thinking about something.
- Subcortical processes are part of the limbic cortex and are activated in response to somatic (physical sensations) experiences that occur in the subcortex.
- Subcortical processing seems to be a faster, more efficient, better tolerated, and more complete way to heal.
- When subcortical processing occurs and nervous system regulation is restored, cortisol is reduced and the hippocampal region can regenerate. This means that memories can be processed and you can stop reliving trauma in unwanted and unexpected ways.
- This doesn’t undo the trauma you have experienced, but rather, the trauma you have experienced will be stored in the memory bank where it belongs so you can get on with your life.
BUT WHAT DO YOU DO DURING A SESSION OF BRAINSPOTTING?
If you were observing a session without knowing what is happening, it might look like we are just staring at a pointer while you are silent or talking about nonsense.
In reality, we will be sharing our limbic systems while the subcortical part of your brain shows the cortical part of your brain what it needs to heal. You will watch with curiosity and kindness as your brain connects your different experiences, thoughts, and sensations into a cohesive understanding of the past and the present.
Here are the steps that we will adjust to work for you:
- Identify an area of need (either to reduce activation or create expansion).
- Notice where this need is felt in your body.
- Find the gaze point where your brain recognizes the need in a way that is most helpful and connected to your body’s experience.
- Observe the thoughts, feelings, and images your brain manifests.
THIS SOUNDS KINDA FROU FROU...
How do I know it is helping? Great question!
This is probably the most common question I get, immediately followed by “How do I know I’m doing it right?”
First of all, there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to experience Brainspotting. In fact, this modality is especially tolerable if you have experienced trauma because you will always be in control and you will be using the perfect tool for healing-your own brain.
Here’s what clients say:
- “I didn’t think this would work but that was really amazing. Thank you”.
- “I don’t think I’ve thought of that in years, I didn’t know my brain was hanging on to it”.
- “It’s like I finally really know or accept something I have heard and believed but never really felt.”
- “The weirdest thing happened. I’ve struggled with this problem for a long time and I realized since we started Brainspotting, it doesn’t bother me anymore. At all.”
I'M INTRIGUED BUT I HAVE QUESTIONS
No problem! I’ve got answers!
Q: How long does it take?
A: This just depends on what you are working on. I recommend clients schedule sessions every week or every other week. Some clients may only need a few sessions and some clients will stay in treatment for several months.
Q: Will we spend our entire time Brainspotting?
A: This depends on your needs and goals. We will begin and end every session with a check-in and adjust according to your needs.
Q: Do I have to do Brainspotting if I work with you?
A: No, this is just one of the services I offer.
Q: Can I see my regular therapist and only see you for Brainspotting?
A: Yes, you will sign a release of information so that we can communicate.
Q: Do I have to tell you about my trauma to do Brainspotting?
A: No. How much you share is up to you and what you need. Verbal processing is not necessary for Brainspotting to be effective.
Q: Can we start Brainspotting right away?
A: Yes. I have a longer intake appointment so that we can get started during your first session if you are ready to begin.
Q: I tried EMDR and didn’t like it or find it helpful. Can I still do Brainspotting?
A: Yes! While both modalities use the eyes and are used for trauma, there are several differences that makes Brainspotting helpful for clients who didn’t benefit from EMDR.
Q: What can Brainspotting be used for?
A: Brainspotting is used for a variety of conditions as well as for well for adults who would like to work on growth and expansion. It can reduce symptoms of trauma, depression, anxiety, anger, irritability, OCD, and addiction.
Q: What do I need to do to prepare?
A: Come with a curious mind and make sure you have a safe, comfortable, and private space for your appointment.
Q: What will I need to do after my session?
A: Brainspotting is intense work and your brain will continue working after your session. Afterwards, please make sure that you tend to your self-care practices.
Q: Can I include music in my sessions?
A: Yes, many clients find biolateral/bilateral sounds music helps them process. Please prepare at least 40 minutes of uninterrupted music of your choice.
Q: Is there research that supports Brainspotting?
A: Yes, this modality has been used successfully for over 20 years. Check out available research here: https://brainspotting.com/about-bsp/research-and-case-studies/