Have you ever engaged in a passionate conversation with someone about a sensitive topic and noticed that when they spoke, their eyes were fixed somewhere away from your face? They had found a “Brainspot” and didn’t realize it!
The founder of Brainspotting, Dr. David Grand, PhD, uses the phrase “Where you look affects how you feel” to help explain how Brainspotting works and why a client’s visual field is a critical component of emotional processing. Human beings have evolved to orient to our environment and assess safety through our eyes. Thus, what we see contributes to our experience with and healing from trauma. Think of the client’s visual field like a landscape from which she can access these deeply stored wounds via a visual portal and essentially allow the wounds to move through and out of her during the process of healing without the logical brain interfering and distracting with ideas or assumptions along the way.
Brainspotting is also described by Dr. Grand as a “brain-body focused mindfulness” healing modality with unique “dual attunement,” meaning that the therapist’s attunement to both the client’s emotional experience and brain-body experience in therapy are integral to the healing process.
A recently developed therapeutic method, Brainspotting has been around for less than two decades, yet it is helping folks around the globe achieve profound emotional, and even physical healing. Derived from a more widely known trauma modality, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, which has existed since the late 1980s, Brainspotting also accesses deeper parts of the client’s brain to process painful experiences or traumas that have been frozen in time, as far as the client is concerned. To delve into all the relevant neuroscience to help explain how Brainspotting works is beyond the scope of this blog post; however, I will attempt to do so in digestible terms.
It is no surprise that all human beings have some form of emotional injuries that we carry and that some of these continue to plague us and act as though the original threat is still present even when we logically understand that it is not!
Unlike more traditional talk therapies that engage the logical parts of our brain, a.k.a. our neocortex, to analyze, reframe, and make logical sense of our lived experiences, Brainspotting can essentially bypass this newly evolved critical thinking part of the brain and target deeper, more primitive parts of the brain that are connected to our emotion centers and our entire nervous system. Brainspotting is powerful at reaching these deeper emotional places and allowing the pain to begin the process of leaving the brain and body.
Needless to say, I get giddy at being able to offer neuro-scientific and transformative healing opportunities to my clients when I find that my typically more verbose therapeutic approach is less impactful in certain circumstances. Brainspotting has become the single most impactful modality that I incorporate in my practice, and I have witnessed meaningful emotional breakthroughs in my clients. Brainspotting helps alleviate stress, anxiety (including performance), depression, trauma, grief, ADHD, fears, fibromyalgia, and you name it. I invite you to learn more about Brainspotting and contact me if you’d like to experience it for yourself!
Bozhena Evans, LCSW