Brain Spotting Therapy
- 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 other challenging symptoms.
Brain Spotting can help with upsetting experiences as well as performance enhancement in the form of removing block to peak performance on stage or the sports field.
What if I haven't had a traumatic experience?
Trauma is a big word. We tend to think of trauma as existing only in connection to life-threatening events but this is not true. There should be a better word but trauma is all we have to cover experiences that threaten one's wellbeing, sense of safety in the world and reliance on others as predictable.
People are often traumatised by events that are sudden or out of their control e.g. their partner up (or a parent) and leaves with no explanation or events that threaten their belief in human nature e.g. a person in a shop starts abusing or accusing them of something they didn't do or say. This persons' irrational behaviour is confusing and threatens their sense of people as predictable and safe.
- A deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
- Psychological or emotional injury caused by a deeply disturbing experience.
There aren't many people in this world that haven't experienced some event that is deeply distressing or disturbing. They might have been involved in an accident, seen their parent have a serious medical event or been subject to subtle or overt abuse as a child. They may have lost a sibling or close loved one and at some level blamed themselves.
What is BrainSpotting?
“Where we look affects how we feel”. BSP (BrainSpotting) makes use of this natural phenomenon through its use of relevant eye positions. This helps the BSP therapist to locate, focus, process and release a wide range of emotionally and bodily-based conditions. BSP is also a brain-based tool to support the therapy relationship. We believe that BSP taps into and harnesses the body’s natural self-scanning, self-healing ability. When a Brainspot is stimulated, the deep brain appears to reflexively signal the therapist that the source of the problem has been found. BSP can also be used to find and strengthen our natural resources and resilience. BSP is designed as a therapeutic tool that can be integrated into a many of healing modalities. BSP can also be used with performance and creativity enhancement. BSP is even more powerful when used with the enhancement of BioLateral Sound CDs." 1.
Brain Spotting was Developed by Dr David Grand and grew from work with slow state EMDR. EMDR is a powerful proven method of dealing with Trauma with much research behind it, while brain spotting is a new innovation it is possible the research on EMDR could extend to include the steady eye direction of brain spotting also.
How does Brain Spotting work?
Your therapist will establish an eye direction that is associated with your current issue, emotional problem or past trauma (when you are activated around this issue). This eye spot is very specific and once found in your activated state it will correspond with a neural network associated with that particular issue.
Some people may feel things in their body, process emotions or see a reel of memories associated with the particular issue or emotionally situation. This is not aimed to be painful but rather it can be enlightening and releasing. It is about 'processing' traumas/painful situations in order to move forward.
The problem with past traumas (that often underly present emotional upsets) is that the original issue is long buried, often isolated in the brain and therefore un-integrated. Dan Seigal has research and written extensively on the effect of neural dis-integration and the way toward a more integrated way of living.(3) Practitioners of Gestalt therapy have known about the need for an integrated self for many years, we call dis-integration and the fragmentation of self and mind 'unfinished business.' That is, there is a lack of resolution and this can manifest in various ways.
When situations are unfinished (and pains are unresolved) they sit like a lump in the psyche (brain / body) but can be reactivated by similar events or triggers. Dr. Robert Scaer describes un-integrated or un-processed trauma as being held in capsules in the brain (2). The eye location of a brain spot correlates with the physiological capsule that holds traumatic experience in memory form (1). Daniel Seigal (3) speaks at length of the need for neural integration as a prerequisite for healthy growth and development. The unintegrated mind tends toward chaos or rigidity (often flipping from one to another) as it struggles to maintain some form of homeostasis. By their nature traumatic events or experiences are encoded differently than normal events. Trauma becomes lodged in implicit memory (bodily memory) and fails to be included in the normal narrative memory so reconstructing a new narrative from trauma is the only way to integrate what is otherwise unassimilated.
Will it hurt?
Brain Spotting is completely non-invasive and safe. Your experienced therapist will structure things in a way that feels comfortable. You do not need to re-live an event that is distressing (and therefore re-traumatising) to you. Brain spotting can be private, you process memories around and connected to each other and don't necessarily have to share all the details with your therapist.
What are the results of Brain Spotting Therapy?
The aim of any therapy is to lead the person toward greater levels of integration. Brain spotting can be a way of accessing the layers around trauma so it can be integrated in the present. People often feel the charge has gone out of what they were feeling about certain things, or that they can 'get over' or move past issues that previously upset them. They often great huge insight into previously puzzling symptoms or feelings and find they can approach similar situations in the future with less stress and difficulty.
Brain spotting was developed within David Grands work with Elite athletes. It has been used to unleash creativity in actors and dancers and unblock writers.
Brain spotting can also work on what may seem to be 'every day' issues that more often than not have their roots in a childhood experience(s) that may not have been traumatic but still shaped the way a person sees and reacts to the world.
How Brain Spotting Works
Brainspotting is a psychotherapy based in the observation that the body activation experienced when describing a traumatic event has a resonating spot in the visual field. Holding the attention on that Brainspot allows processing of the traumatic event to flow until the body activation has cleared. This is facilitated by a therapist focused on the client and monitoring with attunement. We set out testable hypotheses for this clinical innovation in the treatment of the residues of traumatic experiences. The primary hypothesis is that focusing on the Brainspot engages a retinocollicular pathway to the medial pulvinar, the anterior and posterior cingulate cortices, and the intraparietal sulcus, which has connectivity with the insula. While the linkage of memory, emotion, and body sensation may require the parietal and frontal interconnections – and resolution in the prefrontal cortex – we suggest that the capacity for healing of the altered feeling about the self is occurring in the midbrain at the level of the superior colliculi and the periaqueductal gray.