Brainspotting

Written By: Cristina Mardirossian
August 2, 2022

“Brainspotting is based on the profound attunement of the therapist with the patient, finding a somatic cue and extinguishing it by down-regulating the amygdala. It isn’t just PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System) activation that is facilitated, it is homeostasis.”

​— Rober Scaer, MD, “The Trauma Spectrum”

The most common use for brainspotting is to help process and resolve past trauma. It focuses on the subcortical area of the brain, which is responsible for learning, consciousness, motion, and emotions. It is a focused, powerful treatment option that helps identify trauma so it can be processed and released from the body.

Brainspotting helps find the origins of dissociation, bodily and emotional pain, and trauma. It was first discovered in 2003 while working toward advancements in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. David Grand, Ph.D., noted that a patient was becoming fixated on a specific spot, allowing the patient to go deeper than in past sessions.

With brainspotting, one of the most substantial benefits is that there is no need to go through past trauma several times before it can be released from the body.

What to Expect During Brainspotting

Brainspotting can be done in several ways and doesn’t have specific steps. However, most sessions incorporate many of the same techniques. A professional will guide you through the process, but the patient directs much of the process.. You may also listen to music that moves from one ear to another using headphones.

Once you and the therapist identify the targeted issue, you’ll explain where you feel pain or upset in your body and rank it from 0 to 10. This is followed by finding a “Brainspot” where you focus when the discomfort is at its strongest. A “Brainspot” is the eye position which is related to the energetic/emotional activation of a traumatic/emotionally charged issue within the brain. Once you find the “Brainspot,” you may be guided by using a pointer and assisted to select the best spot to focus on.

As you go through the process, you’ll consider the emotions and feelings that come up for you as you stay honed into an area of the body. This is followed by a final stage where you process the experience and what kind of insight it might have provided.

How Does Brainspotting Help?

Brainspotting is best known for helping those struggling with trauma, but it can help in other ways. For example, many trauma symptoms can be relieved by the use of brainspotting. In addition, this form of therapy can be helpful for major depressive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attachment issues, chronic pain, substance use, anxiety, and so much more.

The therapy works based on the belief that trauma feelings can become connected to a part of your body. This can lead to mental or physical problems. Brainspotting is used to help your brain and body let go of the traumatic incident so you can move on as a healthier person.

Brainspotting works on a specific area of the brain that connects to your central nervous system. It’s responsible for motor control, hearing, sleep, and vision. Unfortunately, at the time of trauma, the brain freezes up to keep resources available for the body’s defense mode.

This frozen feeling in the brain is unnatural over an extended period of time. Brainspotting works to create a more stable environment by working with the body and brain simultaneously. This is similar to therapies like EMDR and somatic experiencing. However, this is different from traditional individual talk therapy, which primarily focuses only on the left logical portion of the brain.

Who Is Brainspotting Helpful For?

Anyone who is dealing with trauma can benefit from brainspotting. One study indicated that participating in brainspotting helped reduce depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms in patients in a handful of sessions. It can also benefit other people who have symptoms of physical or mental disorders.

For instance, many people who go through brainspotting notice that it causes increased energy. It can also make it easier to sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Brainspotting may be useful for anyone who struggles with negative thought patterns. It may help make negative memories less painful and help reduce pain in the body.

Where to Access Professional Brainspotting

If you are in the Pasadena, California, area, Pasadena Trauma Therapy, Inc. offers professional Brainspotting sessions to help with your feelings of trauma or other emotional and mental issues. Our practice provides trauma therapists who provide Brainspotting, EMDR, and individual therapy. Anyone who has symptoms of trauma can benefit from Brainspotting therapy. If you want to reclaim your mind and body and move past negative situations from your past, we’re here to help. Anyone can heal from trauma, and we’d love to be a part of that journey for you. Contact us today!