What is Brainspotting?

“Where you look, affects how you feel. If something is bothering you, how you feel about it will literally change on whether you look off to your right or your left. Our eyes and brains are intricately woven together, and vision is the primary way that we, as humans, orient ourselves to our environment. Signals sent from our eyes are deeply processed in the brain. The brain then reflexively and intuitively redirects where we look, moment to moment. The brain is an incredible processing machine that digests and organises everything we experience. Trauma can overwhelm the brain’s processing capacity, leaving behind pieces of trauma, frozen in an unprocessed state. Brainspotting uses our field of vision to find where we are holding these traumas in our brain. Just as the eyes naturally scan the outside environment for information, they can also be used to scan our inside environments – our brains – for information. Brainspotting uses the visual field to turn the “scanner” back on itself and guide the brain to find the lost internal information. By keeping the gaze focused on the specific external spot, we maintain the brain’s focus on the specific internal spot where trauma is stored, in order to promote the deep processing that leads to the trauma’s release and resolution.”

what is brainspotting brain therapy healing trauma
Photo Credit – Stefen Tan

I discovered brainspotting because I was curious about the psychology development courses offered by the British Psychological Society in UK and wanted to register as a psychologist with them. Brainspotting is a new therapy focused on the movement of the eyes and the gaze that stops in a specific point which heals the trauma experiences, releasing the unprocessed thoughts about it or the information received at that point in time, when trauma occurred. I have always been extremely passionate about new therapies and new ways of working within the field of psychology so I looked further into it. Brainspotting was actually discovered and branded, if I can say that, by Dr. David Grand who was working with a client of his using the Natural Flow EMDR therapeutic approach. In this type of therapy the client is guided to uncritically observe, step by step, what they experience, including memories, thoughts, emotions or sensations in their body and EDMR uses left-right eyes movements to stimulate the opposite hemispheres of the brain, back and forth. While working with that, Dr. David Grand observed that there were various and different rapid eye movements when the client would gaze at a specific spot. He used a pointer to direct the clients’ gaze and asked them to tell him how they felt. After trying on the approach with many of his clients, he realised a new therapy must emerge. I then looked into ways of reading more about it, and naturally I bought his book, “Brainspotting, the revolutionary new therapy for rapid and effective change”. Even though the book came to the market in 2013, I was not aware of this new discovery and reading more about it, testing it myself and also taking on an online course, made me want to share this with you. This is a type of therapy that go beyond the mind to gain direct access to the brain. Brainspotting is build on a model where the therapist simultaneously attunes to the client and the client’s brain processes.

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Photo Credit – Sam Harris – @hammy.sarris

“Eye positions correlate to our own internal body experience and our psychology is expressed by the deepest parts of our brains and bodies: our reflexes. The brain is the ultimate scanner. monitoring every cell in the body, as well as itself, on a 24/7 basis. Any type of injury is both physical and psychological trauma to the nervous system and so they become inexorably intertwined. The healing process of Brainspotting is a creative one, and it can unleash and expand creativity in artists. Because it works simultaneously with the right brain and the left brain, it both mirrors and integrates the neural art and science. It is exactly like this – where you look affects how you feel.”

I have taken the Brainspotting online course on udemy, and if you want to discover more about this type of therapy, I would highly recommend to get an idea of what it means and try it for yourself with the exercises in this mini-course, because you can also do brainspotting on yourself too. However, the type of brainspotting you can do yourself would need to be focused on work related tasks, creativity, performance and overall well being as deep traumas would require a specialist for guidance and proper brainspotting therapy.

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Whenever I read about brainspotting initially my mind went to the thought that I have no traumas, this is not something I may be interested in, because I am more focused on self care, mindfulness and positive psychology, work psychology etc. However, that was a wrong way of thinking, a misconception. Trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience. This means that there are specific stimuli that may stress me and others which may impact your nerves, depending on the subject’s internal responses, adjustments to external situations and experiences. I wrote a bit more about it on medium blog, here.

Do you have an interest in Psychology, Therapy or anything related to Well Being, Self Care and Help and Mindfulness? I would love to know in the comments down below! 

what is brainspotting brain therapy healing trauma
Photo Credit Marco Bianchetti



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