An Introduction To Brainspotting

I first heard about Brainspotting earlier this year, when another therapist colleague mentioned it.  After reading David Grand’s book Brainspotting: The Revolutionary New Therapy For Rapid and Effective Change, I was intrigued!  I attended the Phase 1 training in Maryland earlier this month, and am happy to be able to explain more about this type of therapy.  Here’s a brief overview to give you more information on this exciting new therapy that I am now able to offer as a Brainspotting Practitioner.

What is Brainspotting?

Brainspotting (BSP) is a fairly new type of therapy developed by David Grand, Ph.D.  through his work with survivors of trauma, including first responders from 9/11.  Grand was trained in EMDR, an effective treatment for trauma, and adapted that protocol into Brainspotting based on his research.  It has been found to be an effective form of therapy for a variety of mental health concerns, including trauma, anxiety, mental blocks, physical pain, and negative emotions.  According to Grand, where you look can affect how you feel.  In Brainspotting, you are seen as the expert on yourself, while the therapist is in a supportive role.  The goal is BSP is to access your own self-healing capabilities and help process stored trauma and negative emotions.

How does it work?

BSP appears to target the right hemisphere, the limbic system and the brain stem (mid brain).   It seems to bypass the “thinking” cortex of your brain and is thought to directly access the deep parts of your brain involved in emotional regulation.  A trained Brainspotting practitioner will support you to scan your vision field to locate a “brainspot” – an eye position that activates trauma or negative emotion.  By identifying a brainspot, you target an area of focused activation in your brain, directly related to the issue you are working on.   While you focus on that brainspot and notice your bodily sensations, you are able to process negative emotions to help rewire your brain to more positive associations and feelings.  This processing may be done using headphones and listening to music that rhythmically goes back and forth from left to right side.  Engaging both hemispheres of your brain with this music, called auditory bilateral stimulation, can have a very calming effect on your nervous system.  Brainspotting attempts to reprocess negative emotions by focusing on your body-based sensations rather than your thoughts.  It’s sort of like guided mindfulness in a supportive environment.

Brainspotting can be a rapid, effective type of therapy.  In contrast to ongoing talk therapy, you can expect Brainspotting to be more short term.  Some clients find their issue resolved after just one or two Brainspotting sessions.  Others find Brainspotting to be more adjunctive, and use regular talk therapy to further process and enhance progress made in a Brainspotting session.

Who can benefit?

Brainspotting was initially developed as a useful treatment for trauma.  But, this type of therapy can be helpful in any situation where thinking can get in the way of performance, such as creativity or sports performance.  It’s great for the overthinkers, and those with high anxiety, because it bypasses the “thinking” cortex of your brain.  Brainspotting allows for nonverbal processing, since you can talk as much or as little as you want.  Just focusing your thoughts on the issue at hand, and noticing your bodily sensations as you are doing it, is a great alternative to traditional talk therapy.  It is especially helpful if you’ve gotten “stuck” on an issue or feel like something is holding you back from moving forward or being more successful.  Brainspotting is also great for those who work in a field where they can’t talk about their job due to security or confidentiality concerns.

Want to schedule a Brainspotting session?

You can fill out our Request Appointment form on our website here, or you can call our Client Coordinator Christine at 717-723-8040.  If you are a new client, you will be scheduled for an initial intake appointment, and then your first Brainspotting session would be scheduled after we meet.

Want to read more?

Here are some additional resources and studies on Brainspotting:

I am happy to be able to offer this type of therapy to the community, and I’m excited to see how clients benefit from it!