|DAVID GRAND, Brainspotting: The Revolutionary New Therapy for Rapid and Effective Change
Any life event which causes significant physical and/or emotional injury and distress, in which a person powerfully experiences being overwhelmed, helpless, or trapped, can become a traumatic experience. The inability to move reflexively from dysregulation to regulation can be found in subcortical dissociative barriers formed during sustained developmental trauma, which are further calcified by repeated, accumulated adult traumas.
Discovered by Dr. David Grand in 2003, Brainspotting is a power therapy that utilizes the brain-body connection to help process what you have not been able to think your way out of or heal through talk therapy. Brainspotting focuses on processing the parts of the brain where memory and emotion are stored and the parts of the brain involved with regulation. This allows us to address the emotions and memories impacting you from a part of the brain that can help you feel better and more regulated (calm, peaceful). It allows for more efficient therapy as your brain makes connections. It also allows you the possibility of processing implicit memories that are stored in the body rather than in verbal, episodic memories.
Brainspotting is a powerful, focused treatment method that works by identifying, processing, and releasing core neurophysiological sources of emotional/body pain, trauma, dissociation, and a variety of challenging symptoms. Brainspotting is enhanced with bilateral sound, which is deep, direct, and powerful yet focused and containing. Bilateral sound enhances the brain’s processing abilities by alternately stimulating each cerebral hemisphere. The healing sound directly enters the brain through the auditory nerves while the eardrums are vibrated bilaterally.
Brainspotting functions as a neurobiological tool to support the clinical healing relationship. There is no replacement for a mature, nurturing therapeutic presence and the ability to engage another suffering human in a safe and trusting relationship in which they feel heard, accepted, and understood. Brainspotting gives us a tool, within this clinical relationship, to neurobiologically locate, focus, process, and release experiences and symptoms that are typically out of reach of the conscious mind and its limited cognitive and language capacity.
Brainspotting works with the deep brain and the body through its direct access to the autonomic and limbic systems within the body’s central nervous system. As such, Brainspotting is a physiological tool/treatment which has profound psychological, emotional, and physical consequences. Brainspotting taps into and harnesses the body’s innate self-scanning capacity to process and release focused areas (systems) that are in a maladaptive homeostasis (frozen primitive survival modes). Brainspotting can often reduce and eliminate body pain and tension associated with physical conditions.
A “brainspot” is the eye position that is related to the energetic/emotional activation of a traumatic/emotionally charged issue within the brain. Located by eye position, paired with externally observed and internally experienced reflexive responses, a brainspot is a physiological subsystem holding emotional experience in memory form. The brainspot can then be accessed and stimulated by holding the client’s eye position while the client is focused on the somatic/sensory experience of the symptom or problem being addressed in the therapy.
The watchwords of Brainspotting are “where you look affects how you feel.” The retina, comprised of 100 million neurons, is an extension of the brain that is formed embryonically from neural tissue. It is no surprise that the reflexes expressed in the eyes reveal and provide instantaneous access to subcortical processes.
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 previous maladaptive emotional and physiological responses. Brainspotting stimulates, focuses, and activates the body’s inherent capacity to heal itself from trauma.
The process used to bring about healing and recovery located in the trauma capsules is known as focused mindful processing. This focused mindfulness is where the deeply unconscious neuro processes transmute into conscious, neocortical awareness. This awakening can emerge through the senses, body sensations, memories, and emotions.
When a person begins to heal the significant emotional wounds located deep within their brain and their body, the neuronal networks and trauma capsules begin to heal and function more effectively and efficiently. This is a very meaningful and powerful healing process that the person’s own body and brain system creates and integrates into their neuronal networks. The brain and body are no longer ruled by the neuronal wiring that resulted from traumatic and negative experiences. By default, this healing process allows new insights and new ways of being in the world.
Brainspotting is also very useful to access and develop internal resource states (calm, peaceful) and experiences. These resources allow the therapist and patient to “pendulate” between resource or positive states and trauma states during Brainspotting. This enables more gradual processing and desensitization of intensely traumatic and emotionally charged issues and symptoms.
This healing is profound and permanent.