Answers to the most commonly asked questions about Brainspotting.
Brainspotting is an advanced brain body technique for healing emotional trauma, anxiety, depression and PTSD. It is one of the few techniques that effectively addresses the root cause of psychological stress and trauma. It is based on the premise that where you look, or your eye position correlates with deep seated emotional experiences that are typically unreachable by traditional talk therapy. If you have ever felt stuck in a rut, high anxiety or repeating an unhealthy habit (despite your good intentions to change) then Brainspotting is an ideal therapy to help you breakthrough.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Brainspotting?
Brainspotting is a mind-body technique that supports the release of stress and trauma. It is a powerful approach for identifying and processing the root of residue emotions and unconscious patterns that are often correlated with pain, anxiety, depression, traumatic experiences, dissociation and other issues. It combines eye positions, somatic awareness and mindful attunement.
Do you have experience as a cognitive therapist to help me use this to change my beliefs and mindset?
We are trained in cognitive therapy and find it provides a very useful framework that supports the process of Brainspotting.
Difference between brainspotting and EMDR
Brainspotting has roots in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) and similarly supports the reprocessing of negative experiences and retrains emotional reactions. Both are therapeutic interventions that access deeply stored emotional, somatic, traumatic and often subconscious information. Both interventions may involve bilateral stimulation and are considered advanced brain-bodybased strategies. The primary difference between the two involves the procedure used.
Brainspotting is based on the premise that ‘where you look affects how you feel’. As an individual maintains an eye position while focusing on a stressful experience, they connect to a spot in the brain (brainspot) that gives them access to releasing and processing the challenging experience. Dual Attunement is a primary tenant of Brainspotting in that the attunement of the therapist activates brain pathways associated with safety, support and connection. Brainspotting focuses on the attunement of the therapist to the client as well as to the client’s neurobiology. Thus, it is a combined relational and neurobiological connection happening at the same time. During Brainspotting once the focused eye position is established, the client is allowed to organically and intuitively process through their experience without following a specific series of steps. Many clients find this to be empowering, instinctual and flexible while some clients prefer more structure. For those that want more structure EMDR may be a better suited technique.
EMDR follows a very specific protocol in which the therapist guides the client through a series of repetitive steps. EMDR has been around longer than Brainspotting and has more established research behind it. As part of this process, the client focuses on a stressful or traumatic issue while experiencing bilateral stimulation. The client is guided to repeatedly reexperience the issue while being guided through the steps in the process. While Brainspotting involves a focused eye position, EMDR involves rapid bilateral movement of the eyes, auditory or sensory system. Some clients report they find EMDR too directed, structured, overstimulating and not as adaptable and fluid as Brainspotting. While others appreciate the structure and specific steps.
As practitioners of both EMDR and Brainspotting we have found many clients have deeper and more profound releases with Brainspotting and prefer its fluidity.
What is the difference between developmental trauma and PTSD and does Brainspotting treat both?
Brainspotting treats both PTSD and developmental trauma
Developmental trauma refers to a series of chronic traumatic events, habits, and associations causing overwhelming stress during childhood. A primary component of developmental trauma includes the absence or ineffectiveness of a caregiver to help reduce the stress. This results in a disruption in basic attachment that is necessary for feeling a sense of safety and security. Safe and secure attachments are critical to childhood development. Developmental Trauma may include but is not limited to chronic abuse, neglect, unsafe home, bullying, drug or alcohol abuse by caregivers or other serious hardships during childhood. It is often used interchangeably with Complex PTSD however trauma experts are working to clarify it as distinct in many ways.
Developmental trauma is not rooted in a traumatic event like PTSD or stacked specific events like Complex PTSD and does not always lead to meeting all of the criteria for PTSD.
In fact, research shows over 50% of people do not show signs of trauma until they are adults. This can make identifying a specific traumatic event challenging and because of this, individuals with developmental trauma often feel shame, confusion, and frustration at understanding why they feel the way they do.
Along with many of the symptoms of PTSD individuals with developmental trauma may also experience a chronic history of more serious dysregulation in their relationships, attention, self-esteem, attachments, self-image, body image, self-regulation and affect regulation.
Health issues are also a common complaint of individuals with developmental trauma.
Brainspotting’s fluid and dual attunement approach makes it highly effective at treating both developmental trauma and PTSD.
PTSD is related to a triggering event or variable that is perceived to be life threatening or highly stressful. PTSD results in a host of symptoms that fall in the categories of nervous system arousal, avoidance, re-experiencing the trauma, and negative emotions/mood. The specific event or variables that trigger PTSD is what differentiates it from developmental trauma that does not result from an identifying event.
Am I supposed to keep focusing on the issue during the process?
Brainspotting allows for an organic releasing of the emotional and physical stored energy around the issue you begin the session with. You may find that the issue continues to be present throughout the session but often we find that it shifts and moves into deeper layers of releasing and healing. You will not need to focus on the issue throughout the session unless that is where your brain and body continue to bring up sensations, feelings and information to be released. The therapist will guide as needed through the process.
Can I do this and cognitive therapy at the same time?
Brainspotting can be done at the same time as cognitive therapy. Brainspotting allows for deeper processing of trauma and emotional stress and can enhance the effects of cognitive therapy.
Do I need to be in the same room with you when we do this, can we do it over the phone, Skype, FaceTime?
Brainspotting can be done effectively via video conference, Skype or Facetime.
What type of training or experience do you have with this?
We are certified in Brainspotting therapy.
Can it bring up trauma in a way that might upset me?
Brainspotting allows you to access deeply stored mental, emotional and physical trauma. As the Brainspotting therapist we provide a safe, compassionate and mindful attention to allow you to feel completely supported to have your emotional process. You can stop the process at any time you wish. Most people we have worked with find Brainspotting to bring up emotions to be resolved and feel empowered in this process even if it’s challenging.
Will I experience strong emotions or reactions?
It is possible to have strong emotions, but it is not always the case. It depends on what your brain body wants to release based on the information stored in the brainspot.
How long does it take?
Clients have reported profound results in one session of Brainspotting but most often it takes several sessions to work through an issue.
Is there a clear point of healing or is it ongoing?
The brain is re-stabilizing, resourcing and rebooting itself during Brainspotting and the processing often continues to occur after the session has ended. During the process it can be likened to a doorway opening to new places in the mind and body. The information held within these new places will continue to come up and out for releasing and healing. Given much of this information is sensory and nonverbal, it is common to not be able to put into words all that has happened during and after a session. What often occurs are new insights emerge, internal shifts happen, and the issue feels neutralized. This may happen over the course of the session or in the hours, days, or weeks that follow. Clients we have worked with often report feeling neutral, calmer or more at peace about an issue that was previously traumatic or stressful.
How will I know if it is working?
You will feel a shift in your mind and body during the Brainspotting process regarding the issue that you are working on. Most people feel a shift in sensation, emotions, physical charge, thoughts, insights and even memories. We will check in on how you are doing and the shifts that are occurring.
Will medications for depression, ptsd, anxiety, or panic attacks affect the efficacy of brainspotting?
Do we start brainspotting right away or do you have to lead up to it after getting to know me?
After an initial session generally Brainspotting therapy can begin.
Why are you a good choice to do brainspotting for me?
As certified Brainspotting practitioners we have gone through the process to be fully trained to support you in dealing with trauma, anxiety, depression, performance or stress related issue using brainspotting. We’ve conducted 100’s of Brainspotting sessions and it is one of our favorite strategies to use. We have found it works best when combined with other mind body techniques which we are also trained in such as biofeedback, somatic therapy, breathwork and energy psychology.
We have found Brainspotting can bring about positive changes and results with a host of issues. We appreciate its diversity, flexibility and power to get to the heart of what is stuck and unblock it in an organic and intuitive manner. Brainspotting can help treat PTSD, panic attacks, unhealthy habits, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, anger, low self-esteem, abuse, trauma and any psychological issue that is interfering with your life.