What is Brainspotting

Brainspotting is a very efficient neurobiological method used inside a therapeutic relationship to access unconscious content more easily. The method can help us with identifying, processing and healing of trauma, emotional blockades, psychosomatic disorders, attention deficit disorders and dissociative states.

Development of Brainspotting

In 2003, a psychotherapist and trainer, David Grant, Ph.D. discovered this method during a psychotherapy session with a professional ice skater. He was practicising EMDR technique (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) with his client to resolve her problems with a certain jump, when suddenly he noticed that her eyes started to wobble at a particular gazing point. Dr. Grant asked her to insist on gazing at this point and focus to her emotions. To his surprise she started to talk about traumas that she has never mentioned before in previous sessions.. She managed to express and work through her painful experiences. From that day forward she successfully performed all her jumps. Dr. Grant then developed, enhanced and turned this method into formal training.

How does it work

The direction of our gaze can have an influence on what we feel. During the process of Brainspotting the therapist leads the client to find brainspots (neural points) – eye positions that are connected with activated brain areas, where traumatic experiences are stored.

“The maintenance of that eye position/Brainspot within the attentional focus on the body’s “felt sense” of that issue or trauma stimulates a deep integrating and healing process within the brain. This processing, which appears to take place at a reflexive or cellular level within the nervous system, brings about a de-conditioning of previously conditioned, maladaptive emotional and physiological responses. Brainspotting appears to stimulate, focus, and activate the body’s inherent capacity to heal itself from trauma.” (David Grant)

This therapeutic process, called focused mindfulness, starts with a client recognizing the activation point (distress), then locating it in the body and assessing its strength. We can determine the eye position that is connected with a certain emotional state, through reflexes that are recognized by the therapist or through client’s subjective experiences. The reflex responses are shown as eye twitching, contracting and expanding of pupils, facial tics, coughing, frowning, nodding, swallowing and changing of body position. Brainspot is then stimulated by client insisting in this eye position and simultaneously focusing on bodily feelings and the addressed issue.

The therapist then invites the client to compassionately observe his internal process without judging or rationalising his bodily sensations, associations, emotions, fantasies, memories and thoughts. Therefore the client is at the same time observing and experiencing his internal process. At certain points of this activity the client reveals his feelings and thoughts, the therapist then responds and directs him back to his experience. This activity then repeats as long as the client is able to fully express, put into words and redefine his trauma, that was frozen in the unconscious. This special experience offers the client a deep relief, tranquility and the solution of the problem.

Brainspotting is also used for finding positive internal resources, that help us with stressful situations or during trauma processing.

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© Vanina Urh