What would it feel like to experience or remember a traumatic event but to no longer be ruled by the emotion of it? Brainspotting is a non-invasive and gentle therapy that helps release emotional trauma or physical pain stored in your brain and your body. Brainspotting is a healing form of psychotherapy that reaches the non-verbal portion of the brain, reducing the need for extensive talking. This therapeutic approach is so valuable because it releases the traumatic experience or the memory of the event without having the client “re-live” or even speak of the event and risk re-traumatization.
How Does Brainspotting Work?
Brainspotting therapy helps you go deeper quicker than talk therapy because it bypasses the neocortical portion of the brain, where speech and language live. Instead, it works directly with the subcortical or limbic portion of the brain where emotional and traumatic memories live. You may feel more during your sessions as your brain becomes ready. Fewer sessions may be required than in traditional talk therapy to reach a desired resolution. The motto for Brainspotting developed by Dr. David Grand is “where you look affects how you feel”; it refers to the position of our eyes connecting through the optic nerve to the encapsulated distress in the limbic brain. Brainspotting therapy is a non-pathologizing form of brain-body therapy that allows us to identify, process and release emotional stress, trauma, and various imbalances.
What Conditions Does Brainspotting Therapy Treat?
- Anxiety and panic
- Physical and emotional trauma (PTSD and Complex PTSD)
- Recovery from injury, accident trauma, medical trauma
- Sports Performance and Creativity Enhancement
- Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions
- Addictions (especially cravings)
- Issues related to ADHD and Autism
- and many others
How Effective is Brainspotting Therapy?
Thousands of practitioners all over the world find Brainspotting to be a powerful and effective therapy for their clients. People report having deeper and more profound releases with Brainspotting as compared to other brain-based or traditional talk therapies. Some studies demonstrating the efficacy of Brainspotting therapy for treating trauma, anxiety, stress, and other issues are referenced in Resources. Following the Sandy Hook School shooting, Brainspotting was identified by victims and their families as the most helpful and effective therapy for relieving anxiety, stress and trauma. In addition, Brainspotting can help find and strengthen our natural resources and resilience. It is even more powerful when used with bilateral music during session.
Key Brainspotting principles are: the dual attunement frame, moving from dysregulation to regulation, acknowledging the principle of uncertainty and staying “in the tail of the comet”, and practicing focused mindfulness.
Dual Attunement Frame
The Dual Attunement Frame refers to the relationship between the therapist and the client, evolving all the way back, to the the social engagement of primates and subprimates. The primal relationships are somatic (body-based) and experienced mostly out of our conscious awareness. The Dual Attunement refers to the client paying very close attention to what is happening inside of them, while at the same time the therapist is paying close attention to the client’s emotional and physical states. Dr. David Grand who discovered Brainspotting in 2003 says that Brainspotting is trauma and dissociation informed, dually attuned to various symptoms and behaviors.
The Frame is what the client brings into the session – their own unique thoughts, feelings, memories, and histories impacting them at the time of the session. The therapist “holds” the frame with the client; and they develop it further together. This frame becomes a co-joint space that enables the client to move innately and intuitively from emotional dysregulation to regulation.
From Dysregulation to Regulation
The movement from dysregulation to regulation in a Brainspotting therapy session does not happen linearly, but is more of a series of unpredictable spirals that mirror the brain’s neural processes. According to Dr. David Grand, client’s initial inability to move reflexively from dysregulation to regulation shows up in subcortical dissociative barriers.
Dissociative barriers are formed during sustained developmental trauma that children experience in early years. Dissociative barriers may then be further calcified by repeated, or accumulated adult traumas, or by re-traumatizations that reverberate back to the original preverbal, intra-uterine, or intergenerational traumas.
The Principle of Uncertainty
Dr. David Grand describes the Uncertainty Principal as following the infinite, unknowable nature of the macroscopic and microscopic universes. This reflects that everything inside us, down to subatomic level, as well as everything outside of us, is essentially unknowable and uncertain, and infinitely complex and dynamic.
The Brainspotting therapist gracefully surrenders to Uncertainty, acknowledging they can’t truly know what the process is or where it’s going. All the therapist’s knowledge, wisdom, experience and intuitiveness are gently pushed to the side, in order to follow client’s trajectory by staying “in the tail of the comet”.
Unless the client is deeply destabilized and in need of ongoing grounding support, most non-Brainspotting (talk therapy) therapeutic interventions actually subvert the client’s subcortical journey, by diverting it prematurely towards the neocortex and blocking healing.
The heightened state of client’s awareness leads to deep internal processing, called Focused Mindfulness. Focused Mindfulness is both a portal and a process where subcortical brain activities flow under the supported, open, curious observation of the client. The dynamic processing changes in the brain may appear rapid or incremental. They are observed and experienced by the client over the course of minutes or hours, months or years. In parallel, it is as if the neocortex is observing the mysterious subcortical processes in real time, resulting in a true expression of vertical integration.
This Focused Mindfulness is where the deeply unconscious subcortical processes transform into conscious, neocortical awareness. Client’s “awakening” can emerge through the sensory, body sensations, memories, emotions, insights, connections, awarenesses, or releases. As we edge to a conclusion of a session, we guide the client to “go back to the beginning”, reviving the initial cause of distress. It’s not unusual to hear the client respond with some variation of: “something has changed but I can’t put it into words”, confirming a neocortical observation, and honoring that healing can be undefinable and indescribable.
Brainspotting Therapy with Elaine Korngold
I am a Certified Brainspotting Therapist and an Approved Consultant and would be happy to talk to you about Brainspotting. Brainspotting therapy accesses the genius of our deeper emotional brain. During the healing process I am fortunate to observe how intelligent, inventive, and intuitive all human beings are. Creativity is revealed through their resilience, survival, and recovery. The processing that occurs with clients focused on a Brainspot is deep, rapid, and unpredictable. During each session I wait for the surprise and I am rarely disappointed.
With your focused vision and my attuned presence and verbal guidance, emotional Brainspots can be released in a gentle and non-invasive way. There is no need to be in chronic emotional pain. Please text or email me for a free consultation.
Elaine Korngold’s Blog Posts on Brainspotting
Here is the link to interesting articles for my Brainspotting clients – https://askcounseling.com/category/brainspotting/
Elaine Korngold’s Brainspotting Resources
For information about books, websites, videos and research, see – Brainspotting Resources
For help with addictive behaviors, see – Brainspotting for Addiction
For help with athletic issues, see – Sports Counseling
To become Certified in Brainspotting or to consult on a complex case with Elaine Korngold, LPC, see – Brainspotting Certification & Consultation
Video: What is a Brainspot?