The people I have been fortunate enough to work with have found tremendous relief, change and progress with this modality,
Brainspotting is a relatively new and advanced form of psychotherapy. This type of therapy is very focused, mindful and exact. It works by gently identifying, processing and releasing core neurophysiological (brain and nervous system) sources of emotional and body pain, depression, anxiety, trauma, and a vast number of symptoms from the simple to the complex. It also can remove anything that may be blocking our creativity and peak performance. This is so, because Brainspotting has been proven to be an excellent technique for athletes, executives, speakers, and those who are involved in the fine arts, etc.
One of the profound gifts that have emerged from this modality is the ability to gain access to the parts of our brain-mind that are often hidden from our awareness. This is a huge milestone for psychotherapy as it allows us to dive deeper into the psyche and subconscious to gently heal and change deep-seated issues, past traumas, habits and negative emotions.
There is increasing evidence that trauma and negativity are “stored” in the body and can alter the way the brain functions and how we feel. Trauma can, for example, have a life-long effects on one’s emotions, memory, and physical health if it is not properly resolved.
Throughout our lives, we can experience events that can cause psychological, physiological and emotional injury or distress. It could be a single isolated event, or a number of small events over time that accumulate in our body. Many times, we do not realize that we are continuing to carry this distress, to some degree or another, within us. We are unaware that these events, issues, etc. are affecting us on a daily basis.
Due to fairly recent research, we are beginning to understand how and why things (events, feelings, beliefs) actually get stuck in our nervous system. We are finding ways to move these psychological/physiological/emotional symptoms through our system and completely release them.
Through Brainspotting we can connect current emotional and physical reactions to events that happened in the past. We may have a degree of awareness as to what might be the root of the feeling or no idea at all. In other words, we might think we know why we’re feeling a certain way. But there are often additional inner connections that are typically beyond the reach of our conscious mind.
For, example, one may have undergone rejection or embarrassment in middle school, maybe more than once. These feelings of shame, being alone, embarrassment, and rejection, etc. as a young child can be held in your nervous system for a life-time. E.g., fear of rejection in groups, afraid of saying something “stupid” and not being liked, seen as inadequate etc. The residue of the earlier experience can persist, and we don’t even realize why we experience some fear around things such as public speaking, mingling at parties or large groups where we don’t know that many people, etc. This comes from emotional and instinctual memory, not from autobiographical concrete cognitive memory. Most of the time we cannot make a direct connection to exactly why we feel the way we do. In addition, events that happened when we were young, took place before our prefrontal cortex (logic, thinking, reasoning) was fully grown and online. This does not happen until age twenty-five.
Thus, these events or ways of being are stored in our limbic system (emotional brain) and reptilian (instinctual) parts of the brain. These are the parts of the brain we need to access in therapy for healing to occur (more right brain). Talk therapy cannot bring us to the place we need to be. This is because talking, thinking, language,logic etc. stimulates the prefrontal cortex (more left brain) where talking "about" an issue will not move us to healing or peak performance. It has to be a felt sense to move us beyond where we are today and toward where we'd like to be.
As the founder of Brainspotting, David Grand points out, scientists know that every human brain contains about 100 Billion neurons (cells that carry information). These brain cells are connected through 100,000 miles of axons that encompass from 100 trillion up to 1 quadrillion synaptic connections. To put these numbers in prospective, the Milky Way is made up of only 100 to 400 billion stars. These cosmic numbers testify to the vast, almost infinite, complexity of the brain.
We have realized the great importance and primary role that the brain and nervous system plays in psychological and emotional healing and growth. The 1990s were dubbed “the year of the brain,” in psychotherapy as new research was shedding light on the intricate connections of fields of study that we had originally separated. Continued advances in neuroscience and neurobiology has made way for newer, cutting edge therapies that are quite advanced and can even assist in rewiring the brain from old entrenched reactions and ways of being into our natural state of well-being, balance and harmony. This can be a concrete reality no matter what we have gone through or felt in the distant or recent past.
Brainspotting, like EMDR, is best understood and known through experiencing it. It sounds a little odd when explained but while experiencing it, it makes total sense. I will offer an explanation below.
How it Works
There is a strong direct connection between the orbital area and muscles of the eye to the to the deep (mid to back of the) brain. The optic nerve carries light for sight from the retinal directly into the brain. The receptors pick up visual signals and are transported to the optic nerve and then transmits this to the brain. In actuality our sight is coming from within our brains, not from the outside.
So, we know the brain and the eyes are intricately woven together. In addition, we have learned that where we look affects how we feel. This was discovered decades ago and gave rise to NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). We now have a more powerful therapy that rests upon the direct eye to brain connection. This reveals critical information about what is going on in our brain. This is how we access, on deeper physiological levels, exactly what is troubling us or possibly holding us back and how to gently and completely release these things. This frees us up to be more of who we truly are without this "baggage" we may have been carrying around for quite some time. This enables us to be and move more harmoniously through life with ease and a deeper sense of well-being.
We also know, as mentioned, that past and current traumas, emotional and subsequent physical pain, depression, anxiety, etc. are stored in the brain. We believe they are stored in the deep part of the brain. Physically, this would be the mid and back parts of the brain that holds these issues and rests in the subconscious.
In order to reach this place in therapy, you would focus your attention on a pointer or my fingers as they slowly go across your field of vision. There will be one exact area that you feel something like tension or ‘butterflies’ where we know we have landed on the exact brainspot. In focusing your attention there for a bit, while thinking about what we are working on, you will begin to feel some relaxation and ease as you continue your gaze. This is a sign that something that is in that particular spot is being processed and let go of very easily.
I know it may sound a bit ridiculous, but to experience it is quite profound and moving.
In daily life, you may catch yourself just gazing at a spot while thinking or trying to solve a problem. This includes "staring off into space," where you are looking in one particular direction. The theory is you are naturally led to a point in your brain that will help you come to resolution or creative ideas. At that point, you are already utilizing Brainspotting. It is a very natural process that enhances the body-mind’s ability to heal and transform naturally.