Brainspotting: What the heck is it and how does it work?

Brainspotting is an advanced form of psychotherapy that can access parts of the brain that are often hidden from our awareness. 

Throughout our lives, we experience events which can cause significant physical and/or emotional injury and distress. It can be a single isolated experience or can occur as a series of small events, which over time accumulate in our body. Either way, these events are traumatic and can leave us with feelings of sadness, anxiousness, anger or other types of emotions. Typically, we aren’t even aware that these past events are affecting us on a daily basis.

We can spend years talking about the feelings we’re experiencing and trying to figure out logically where they have come from. We might even develop ways to live with or “cope” with these feelings. What we might not realize is that all these feelings can be traced back to a core event, or series of events. Finding this source is especially important.  By getting to the core issue, we can gain access to the roots of these feelings, allowing our brains to process the material that is causing the emotional or physical reaction. It’s one thing to know why we shouldn’t feel a certain way, it’s quite another to actually be free of those feelings.

Brainspotting is a powerful, focused treatment method that connects current emotional and physical reactions to events that happened in the past. For example, a person who suffered a car accident years earlier might continue to become highly anxious while driving. When we identify a “Brainspot”, we neurobiologically locate and process past experiences that have, for whatever reason, gotten stuck. Once these past traumas are un-stuck, our bodies will no longer continue to react that way. 

We may have a degree of awareness as to what might be at the root of a feeling. In other words, we might think we know why we’re feeling a certain way. But there are often additional connections that are typically beyond the reach of our conscious mind. They are actually in areas of the brain that aren’t accessible through talking.  Brainspotting appears to take place at a reflexive or cellular level within the nervous system, which can cancel out these unwanted emotional and physiological responses. Brainspotting treatment combines psychology with physiology, bridging the mind-body connection.

Brena has received advanced-level training from David Grand, Ph.D., the developer of Brainspotting, who is an internationally recognized trauma expert. He is the author of Emotional Healing at Warp Speed: the Power of EMDR.

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