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  • Writer's pictureYour Story Counselling

What is Brainspotting?

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

“Where you look affects how you feel.”

This article is part of a series of blogs that are meant to highlight the different modalities of therapy our Psychotherapists at Your Story Counselling utilize, check out our other articles to learn more about the various therapeutic models we use!

What is Brainspotting

Brainspotting is, in effect, holding the eye to a still position in one particular place, and while in this position, clients will be able to go to a deeper processing level that may not have been accessible to them before. Brainspotting can be a highly successful therapy for those that have experienced past trauma as well as those who find that conventional talk therapy is too overwhelming or simply ineffective for their needs.

Clients that have been exposed to trauma may benefit from using Brainspotting to create distance, often times talk therapy and other forms of therapeutic approaches for trauma can induce limib counter transferred (flight, freeze, fight), making it difficult and re-traumatizing to talk about what has happened to you. Brainspotting is a technique that may help with circumventing these responses, allowing for deeper trauma processing to happen.

Why become a Brainspotting Client

Why become a Brainspotting Client?

● Help you move from dysregulation (panic, overwhelm, shutdown, anxiety, stress, etc.) to regulation (in control, at ease, relaxed, present).

● Brainspotting works to engage the regions of the brain to encourage neurobiological regulation and bypass the areas that are not involved in it.

● BSP allows clients to have a comfortable space to hold onto and heal from their past trauma and or problematic situations.

● Leaving trauma unprocessed can lead to further issues and difficulties, creating further harm and damage long after the traumatic event has happened, BSP helps your mind and body reconnect and heal from what has happened to you.

●BSP harnesses the brain/body self-scanning to locate, hold in place, process and release focused areas in a maladaptive homeostasis (Such as Freezing states of the body).

Brainspotting Discovery and Origins

Brainspotting Discovery and Origins

Brainspotting (BSP) was discovered by Dr. David Grand in 2003 when he started working with a 16-year-old figure skater who couldn’t master the triple loop. In developing Braingspotting, Grand was struck by the fact that new material emerged that had not come out in a year of intensive treatment.

Grand had been working hard to resolve trauma that had re-emerged and was discovering ways to process experiences to a deeper level. This is when he came across a particular connection between eye movement and trauma. Discovering a particular eye reflex, Grand would hold his finger to direct clients to maintain their gaze to a particular spot. Activating a neural network response allowed his client to go towards a deeper level of processing. Grand discovered that if any reflexive responses in the client had occurred, it would reveal the area, location, and presence of a particular spot, which could then further direct clients to pay attention, thus the birth of Brainspotting.

What is Brainspotting?

Brainspotting is a scientifically proven technique that supports clients with past trauma or struggles in their life. Brainspotting can be highly effective for those who find that their trauma is causing them to dissociate or become highly overwhelmed. Brainspotting is highly effective in relieving unprocessed trauma in the subcritical region of the brain.

Brainspotting works to access visual points in the client’s visual field, which organizes itself around a person’s eye position, this allows processing to occur in the subcritical parts of the brain.

In accordance with Polyvagal Theory, Brainspotting (BSP) helps clients enhance their social engagement with the therapist, increasing relational attunement while supporting the client to come out of their dissociation and present themselves in intersubjective space. BSP can be a safer avenue towards process trauma, it requires sustained attention from the client and involves access to parts of the brain that processes trauma.

Proven Effects of Brainspotting and Effects on Trauma

Research Studies and the Proven Effects of Brainspotting and Effects on Trauma

BSP has been showing promising signs in the research field. A study involving participants of the Sandy Hook school shooting demonstrated that Brainspotting was the most effective mode of therapy for adults and the fourth most effective for the children involved in the school shooting.

Some recent studies have found that BSP can show effective positive results when compared to other well-known trauma treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) (Hildebrand, Grand & Stemmle, 2017).

With the support of Brainspotting, therapists can, as a result, go deeper into trauma work. This processing may feel highly activating and destabilizing at first. However, with continued processing, clients learn to feel more comfortable and more in control and stable while processing their past experiences. With repeated practice, Brainspotting can help the past stay in the past, reducing the risk of further harm and reactiveness from the client.

Therapists' Role and Support in Processing

Brainspotting has been implemented by thousands of therapists worldwide and the popularity of BSP is quickly rising. With the support of Brainspotting, therapists can support clients to not only process but release the discomfort of emotional and body-based responses to trauma. Brainspotting can also help the therapeutic relationship while tapping and harnessing the body’s self-scanning and self-healing abilities, stimulating the deep parts of the brain where the problem is located.

People around the world have found BSP to strengthen and find one’s natural resources and resilience. Furthermore, BSP can integrate into many healing modalities, such as internal family systems therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other therapeutic models for more effective healing.

Still, want more? Here’s a helpful video about Brainspotting!


About the Author

Linda Thai, MACP, RP

Linda Thai, MACP, RP

I would like to support you with your life challenges, stressors, depression, and anxiety. I want to help you reach your goals effectively through warm and empathic interaction. I can provide a warm space if you are looking for a caring and empathic therapist. As an affirmative therapist, I also work with BIPOC and LGBTQ populations, with extensive training in couple’s work. I facilitate non-judgementally and can walk us through collaborative and effective approaches. I have extensive experience working with Autism, ADHD, and Neurodiversity and specialize and am trained and certified in Brainspotting Trauma therapy. I want to understand your lived experiences.

I specialize in working with people of all ages/gender/races and can offer you counselling at your convenience throughout the day or evenings. I am offering virtual therapy, making it manageable for you, and offering solutions and coping strategies. I take my time to discuss what you need and try to help you understand what works and what does not.

I have 15 years of experience working with diverse populations across Toronto. I support BIPOC clients struggling with intergenerational trauma and enjoy supporting people with helpful and useful coping strategies. I have worked with hundreds of clients with various needs and am trained in Narrative therapy, Trauma therapy, and Solution Focused modalities.

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