Brainspotting Training: An Exciting Advancement in Healing

By

Katie Rapkoch, CHPC

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Published on

June 05, 2024

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Updated on

June 05, 2024

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Robert Stevens

Somatic Exercises

Brainspotting training is a powerful therapeutic approach that has gained significant attention for its effectiveness in addressing a wide range of emotional and psychological issues. Developed by Dr. David Grand in the early 2000s, brainspotting is grounded in the belief that the position of one's eyes can access and heal unprocessed trauma within the brain. This innovative method is used to help individuals locate and process hidden memories, leading to profound healing and recovery.1 With brainspotting, therapists and clients embark on a journey of discovery, utilizing the body's natural ability to heal itself. The approach is holistic, considering the interconnectedness of the mind and body.

In this article, we will discuss how brainspotting works, the link between brainspotting and neuroplasticity, who can benefit from the modality, examples and explanations of what happens in a typical session, and how practitioners become qualified.

If you are interested in hearing more about alternative ways to heal using neuroplasticity and brain re-training with re-origin, please book a free info call today.

How Does Brainspotting Work?

Brainspotting operates on the premise that “where you look affects how you feel”.2 Dr. David Grand discovered the premise that specific eye positions, called "brainspots," can access unprocessed trauma in the brain's subcortical regions. By maintaining focus on these spots and the associated bodily sensations, clients are able to access and process underlying trauma and emotional distress.2

The therapy posits that trauma is stored in the body and that by tapping into the body's innate ability to heal, individuals can overcome psychological obstacles. This approach aligns with the growing body of research emphasizing the connection between physical and emotional health.2

Brainspotting and Neuroplasticity

Brainspotting training leverages the concept of neuroplasticity, the brain's remarkable ability to reorganize itself and develop new neural connections throughout life3. This adaptability is crucial for learning, recovery from brain injuries, and healing from emotional and psychological traumas. In the context of Brainspotting, neuroplasticity is what allows for the processing and healing of traumatic memories.

When a brainspotting trainer helps a client to focus on a brainspot associated with trauma, the brain engages in a type of re-wiring process. This focused attention allows the client to access and process the memory in a safe environment, leading to the formation of new, healthier neural pathways. Over time, this can result in a significant reduction of trauma-related symptoms and an increase in emotional well-being.

The principle of neuroplasticity underpins Brainspotting’s effectiveness, offering a scientific foundation for its ability to facilitate profound emotional and psychological changes. By harnessing this innate capacity in the brain, Brainspotting practitioners can help clients unlock their potential for healing, growth, and transformation.

Who Can Benefit from Brainspotting Training?

Brainspotting is a versatile and powerful tool for healing, capable of assisting individuals dealing with a variety of psychological and emotional challenges. Its efficacy is not limited by age, gender, or the specific nature of the issue being addressed. Here are some key groups that can benefit from this therapy:

  • Individuals with Trauma or PTSD: Brainspotting has been particularly highlighted for its effectiveness in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It allows individuals to process and release traumatic memories that are often stored in the body, leading to significant improvements in symptoms and overall well-being.1
  • People Experiencing Anxiety or Depression2: This approach can also be beneficial for those suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. By targeting the underlying emotional pain and trauma that often contribute to these conditions, Brainspotting can help alleviate symptoms and promote emotional healing.
  • People struggling with Chronic Pain or Chronic Fatigue: Brainspotting can help rewire old neural pathways to produce relief from pain and fatigue.
  • Individuals with attachment and relationship issues2: The therapy has applications for those dealing with attachment disorders and relationship issues, providing a pathway to healing and improving interpersonal connections.
  • People struggling with substance abuse issues2: By identifying underlying emotional pain that may have led to the desire to numb with addiction, brainspotting can provide relief from both the pain and the desire to numb said pain.

Can You Do Brainspotting by Yourself?

While Brainspotting is primarily a practitioner-guided process, whether one-on-one or in a group setting, individuals can learn certain techniques for self-application under the guidance of a trained Brainspotting therapist. Self-brainspotting can be a valuable tool for managing stress, anxiety, and emotional dysregulation. However, for deep-rooted trauma and more complex psychological issues, working with a professional is strongly recommended to ensure safety and effectiveness.

What is a Brainspotting Session Like?

A Brainspotting session typically lasts between 60 to 90 minutes and is characterized by a deep, focused exploration of the patient’s internal experience. The therapist guides the patient in identifying a specific issue or emotion and then helps find the corresponding brainspot by observing eye movements and body cues. Once a brainspot is identified, the patient focuses on it, supported by the therapist's attuned presence and occasional bilateral sound, which can help deepen the processing.4

Sessions are unique to each individual, with the pace and direction largely dictated by the client and participant's responses and needs. This personalized approach fosters a deep sense of safety and containment, which is crucial for effective trauma work.

What are Examples of Brainspotting Exercises?

Brainspotting exercises vary but are all designed to facilitate emotional and psychological processing. An example includes the "Inside Window" technique, where the therapist and client work together to find the brainspot associated with understanding a specific emotional issue. Another technique, the "Outside Window," involves the client identifying the spot in their visual field that correlates with their distress, guided by their instinctual feeling.4

The "Gazespotting" technique is used for accessing resources and positive states, where the client focuses on a spot that evokes a sense of calm or safety.4 These exercises, among others, are explored in depth during Brainspotting training, with each participant in the course with ample opportunities for hands-on practice and experiential learning.5

What is Brainspotting Training?

Brainspotting training is an educational and experiential process designed to equip therapists, counselors, and other mental health professionals with the knowledge, tools, and skills necessary to implement Brainspotting in their practice. The training typically covers the theoretical underpinnings of Brainspotting, its clinical applications, and hands-on practice sessions. Dr. David Grand, along with other seasoned Brainspotting practitioners like Lisa Larson, Pie Frey, and Cynthia Schwartzberg, are often involved in conducting these trainings.5

Participants in Brainspotting training events learn how to identify "brainspots," or eye positions that correlate with emotional and physical pain, through a precise and attuned observation of the client's eye movements and body responses. The training is structured in phases, starting with Phase 1 training, which provides an introduction to the method, followed by Phase 2 training and other specialty training modules that delve into more complex applications and techniques.5

The Future of Brainspotting

The scalability of Brainspotting, coupled with its profound impact on healing, indicates its significant role in the future of mental health treatment. The methodology's emphasis on the body's innate ability to heal itself aligns with contemporary treatments with holistic and integrative health practices. As more mental health professionals learn Brainspotting, through Phase 1, Phase 2, and specialty training sessions, the therapy's reach and efficacy will expand.

This growth is further supported by Brainspotting’s adaptability to various modalities and tools, making it an invaluable asset in the therapist's toolkit. With ongoing developments in training, practice, and understanding of Brainspotting, the modality is poised to offer healing and hope to a broader segment of the population, making its future both promising and impactful in the realm of psychotherapy.

The Frontier of Therapeutic Innovation: Brainspotting and Brain Re-training

Brainspotting is a powerful therapeutic approach that combines the insights of neuroscience with the depth of psychotherapy to offer hope and healing to a myriad of individuals. With its underpinnings in neuroplasticity and brain re-training, Brainspotting represents a frontier of therapeutic innovation with the potential to change lives.

If you are interested in hearing more about alternative ways to heal using neuroplasticity and brain retraining with re-origin, please book a free info call today.

References

  1. Hildebrand, A., Grand, D., & Stemmler, M. (2014). A preliminary study of the efficacy of Brainspotting – a new therapy for the treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder . Journal of Psychological Trauma: Psychotherapy, Science, Psychological Medicine, 20, 1-15. Retrieved from https://brainspotting.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Hildebrand-Grand-and-Stemmler-2014-Jrnl-Psyctrau-PsyctherSci-Pysclgcl-Med20.pdf
  2. McGrath, B. (n.d.). Turning the spotlight on Brainspotting. Psychotherapy Networker. Retrieved from https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/article/turning-the-spotlight-on-brainspotting/
  3. RxList. (n.d.). Definition of Neuroplasticity. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from https://www.rxlist.com/neuroplasticity/definition.htm
  4. Blanchfield, T. (2024, January 16th). Title of the article. Verywell Mind. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from https://www.verywellmind.com/brainspotting-therapy-definition-techniques-and-efficacy-5213947
  5. Brainspotting Trainings LLC. (n.d.). Information on trainings. Brainspotting. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from https://brainspotting.com/trainings-info/

By

Katie Rapkoch, CHPC

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