What Is Brainspotting, And Is It Right For Me?
Brainspotting is a relatively new mental health therapy created by David Grand, Ph.D. in 2003. Over 13,001 licensed therapists have been trained in brainspotting worldwide to date, and patients have boasted of the success of the therapy. Research is coming, so we still know very little about it. We want to look at exactly what brainspotting is and how it is supposed to help patients.
To understand brainspotting, we first have to look at how the brain works. Brainspotting assumes that negative experiences, whether from trauma, an emotional event, or a mental disorder, are stored in the brain with negative perceptions. Patients keep them tucked away but still suffer subconsciously.
David Grand's work was to figure out how to pull out those negative perceptions in a safe environment. Grand also subscribed to the theory that the brain can heal itself if given the opportunity. Brainspotting works not by talking through emotions but by allowing the patient to recognize them for what they are so that the brain can then start to heal. With the growing number of therapists that train in Brainspotting, he might be onto something.
What Is Brainspotting?
Brainspotting (BSP) identifies the traumatic and emotional experiences you face in life by pointing out how they manifest in your body. Similar to emdr therapy, which uses bilateral stimulation with rapid eye movement, tapping, or tones to help reprogram a patient's response to a traumatic or emotional event, BSP therapist will find a spot in your field of vision that awakens the trauma and your emotions using a pointer to hold your eye contact. By sitting in that spot, the theory is that your brain will be forced to reckon with the emotional responses and start to heal itself.
BSP is a therapy that can be done on its own or in conjunction with talk therapy. The name of the therapy comes from the term "brain spot," which is the position of the eyes that awaken the emotional responses to an event or issue. Sometimes Bio Lateral sound is used to help find the emotional stimulus by using headphones to send sound waves back and forth through a patient's audio field.
Where you look affects how you feel. David Grand has found that by locating the exact position of your eyes that brings up negative feelings, physical pain, or memories, your brain begins to take down the walls that have kept you from dealing with an issue. Grand believes that the brain can then begin to heal itself.
He boasts on his website, www.brainspotting.com, that you can be healed in as little as two sessions with him, though many need more than two. His website also claims that the BSP technique can also bring out the creativity in a patient and has a video testimonial of a video producer claiming that BSP helped him with his creative endeavors.
It's an interesting take on therapy, though it's too soon to know the long-term effects on patients. Because it can be used in conjunction with other therapy, Grand describes it as a tool for a therapist's arsenal, a new way to help with treatment, though not the end all be all. Because he also stated he could treat people in two sessions with BSP, it's hard to know exactly what his plans are for the treatment. Cautious optimism may be best used when looking into the therapy.
How Does It Work?
In Psychology Today, Eric Newhouse describes the brain's plasticity in PTSD patients. He claims that the brain's process of converting perception into memory is interrupted through a traumatic experience, changing the way a person perceives his surroundings and making it hard to live a normal life. The flashbacks that normally accompany PTSD patients aren't memories; their perceptions never filed as memory, changing a person's whole behavior.
Plasticity happens when the patients start to forget how to do normal behavior. Newhouse uses isolation as an example. Because a PTSD patient has isolated himself from anything that could cause a flashback, his awareness and development reform around his new way of thinking. His brain can no longer function properly when trying to socialize.
Brainspotting therapy is a technique that could, theoretically, get to the root of the trauma so that a therapist can then reform the patient's way of thinking. Because trauma is what causes plasticity, the trauma needs to be reintroduced for the reforming to begin.
Is Brainspotting Right For Me?
Because we are in the midst of the studies that will tell us more about brainspotting, the best thing for patients interested in brainspotting is to educate themselves on what is known so far. If you are intrigued by what you have read here and can find a therapist who will help you, you may find that the therapy is helpful to you. But if you are skeptical or unsure, there are plenty of well-tested therapies available for you to try as well. We talked a lot about trauma, but brainspotting is helpful for other mental illnesses such as anxiety, ADHD, substance abuse, chronic pain, and more.
A similar therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an option if you are interested in therapy but not entirely sure of Brainspotting. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation with rapid eye movement, tapping, or tones to help reprogram a patient's response to a traumatic or emotional event. There have been more studies done on EMDR, and the research supports the therapy's use. EMDR is an 8 step process and is done in conjunction with other therapies for the best outcome for the patient.
EMDR helped pave the way for brainspotting as David Grand studied it before finding brainspotting. He discovered through using rapid eye movement with a patient that having them lock their eyes in a specific position helped them tremendously.
Whether you go with brainspotting, EMDR, or some form of talk therapy, the most important decision is actually to go. We are still fighting for mental health's importance in society, but with new therapies coming out and more therapists willing to give things a try, we are heading in the right direction. You are not alone.
At ReGain, we want you to have the best information available to get the help you need. And we provide chat counseling to get you started. If you go to www.regain.us/start today, we will match you will an online chat counselor and a private room, where you can talk with the licensed counselor 100% online.
These counselors are there for you in whatever you need, whether you want individual counseling or partner counseling. If you come with a partner, you can see each other's writings if you would like. Online chat therapy is just like talk therapy, but you don't have to sit in an office one-on-one. Your comfort is a top priority for us.
ReGain is just one of many therapy options for you to choose from. It's important to remember that therapy works differently for everyone, so you should choose the right option. Though Brainspotting is a much newer option, it has shown to be effective in patients and is continuing to grow. As we get to know more about the therapy and the long-term effects, we may see even more therapists using it in the future. If you would like more information about brainspotting, you can visit David Grand's website or find a BSP counselor near you.
At ReGain, we think mental health is just as important as physical health. We should see a doctor for physical and mental concerns, and therapies like brainspotting can help us point to where our issues lie. But the truth is, the sooner we face difficulties, the sooner we will be happier and healthier. Be well.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Happens In A Brainspotting Session?
At the beginning of your brainspotting session, your brainspotting therapist will discuss with you your reasons for seeking brainspotting therapy. They will ask you to describe your symptoms and explain the situation or memories you have difficulty processing. It is very likely that during your first brainspotting session that you will not actually have brainspotting done.
Your therapist needs to ask you what you hope to get out of the sessions and make sure that you have a specific idea of the specific problem you are looking for help with. For example, simply stating that you are having trouble communicating with your partner isn’t specific enough, whereas citing a specific incident that upset you would be more helpful to the process.
Once the brainspotting specialist has determined that you are a good candidate for brainspotting, then they will explain the procedure to you in detail to ensure that you know what to expect. Additionally, they will explain any possible side effects of the procedure you might experience after the session.
From here, the therapist will work on finding the brain spot in your eye that corresponds with the memory or event in your brain. This is done by using a pointer that the therapist will have you fix your eyes upon. They will slowly move it while watching you for visible cues, ticks, or other indications that a part of your brain is being activated while focusing on the memory or event.
You can also help your therapist find the proper spot by being in tune with your body and noticing which spots activate your senses or calm them. From here, the therapist will have you listen to bilateral music through headphones that will help you process the thoughts, emotions, and feelings you will be experiencing by helping to stimulate your brain through sound.
Generally, once the brain spot is activated, the therapist will not do much talking. They will be there to guide you if necessary, to answer questions you may have, to reassure you, and to keep you safe. In brainspotting therapy, the therapist is not there to analyze your thoughts and feelings or to fix things for you. Your brain and body will do the majority of the work in healing themselves.
After the session, your therapist may discuss things that they noticed or help you understand some of the feelings you may be experiencing.
How Is Brainspotting Done?
See the above question for a detailed explanation.
Is Brainspotting The Same As EMDR?
Although they are similar in many ways, they are not the same. Brainspotting therapy (BSP) was derived from EMDR techniques. However, the practice is different. With EMDR, a patient is highly engaged throughout the procedure, and the therapist utilizes rapid eye movement to hyper-stimulate the patient.
In brainspotting, the process is much more relaxed, and rather than using rapid eye movement; the therapist will have the patient focus on one particular spot in their field of vision. This is their brain spot, and it is the spot in their eye that corresponds to memory or event in their brain. By focusing on this one spot, the brain will work through the event with little prodding or direction from the therapist.
Is Brainspotting Legit?
Brainspotting therapy (BSP) is a relatively new form of therapy, and as such, it is still undergoing extensive research to determine its efficacy. That said, for many patients with PTSD or unresolved emotional and psychological trauma-related concerns, brainspotting therapy (BSP) has shown significant promise.
There is no hard scientific evidence that definitively concludes that brainspotting is effective; however, most patients who have received brainspotting therapy report that they have experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms and resolution for their trauma.
Brainspotting therapy is not the perfect fit for everyone, however, so it is important to discuss your treatment options with your primary care doctor or therapist to see what they recommend for your situation.
Can Brainspotting Be Done Online?
Absolutely! For some, it may even be more comfortable and relaxing to be able to receive brainspotting therapy in the comfort of their own home. By using an online video conferencing app, your therapist will be able to see the minute details and expressions on your face and the movements of your eyes.
By seeing you more clearly without having to get close to you physically, the therapist will be able to determine which eyespots will be most beneficial to work on. The added benefit is that they can also gauge how you are responding to treatment better. You will be able to relax and recover immediately after the session without worrying about making the trip home.
How Much Does Brainspotting Cost?
Because there are so few certified brainspotting therapy (BSP) specialists, the rates that they charge are variable. On average, however, a typical 1.5-to-2-hour brainspotting session will cost between $250-$350.
Some insurance providers will cover brainspotting sessions, or partially cover them, so be sure to check with your insurance to see if they cover your treatment. Additionally, many employers have employee assistance programs that help provide coverage and care for mental health conditions. Speak with your HR representative to see if your employer offers such a program.
How Many Sessions Of Brainspotting Are There?
On average, a typical brainspotting session will take between 1.5 to 2 hours, and most patients see significant improvement in their symptoms within 2-3 sessions. Depending on the severity of the condition and the trauma being treated, more sessions may be necessary, but the treatment rarely exceeds 6 sessions.
How Do You Feel After Brainspotting?
Because brainspotting therapy (BSP) is a form of therapy that focuses on addressing the emotions and feelings associated with trauma and processing those feelings and emotions, it is very common to feel overwhelmed and physically and mentally tired brainspotting session. Some common symptoms you can expect to feel are:
Tired both mentally and physically
Light-headedness or dizziness
More emotional than usual (may have difficultly controlling emotions temporarily)
Anger or agitation
These symptoms can occur for up to two days after the brainspotting session. It takes time for your body to process the emotions and feelings it keeps pent up. It is important to make sure that you allow yourself time after your session to relax and recover. Try to clear your schedule for the day and spend your time resting.
What iIs Brainspotting Used For?
Brainspotting therapy (BSP) is primarily used in helping patients recover from and process trauma and PTSD. However, as more research is being done on brainspotting therapy (BSP), it is also now used in people who have:
Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
Alcohol or substance abuse
Poor impulse control
The more scientists and doctors learn about brainspotting therapy (BSP) and how it interacts with our brains to help us process difficult, painful, and complex memories, emotions, and thoughts, the more effective it will be at helping a wide range of conditions.
Is Brainspotting Hypnosis?
Although brainspotting therapy (BSP), EMDR, and hypnosis have some similarities, they are actually very different therapy methods. In hypnosis, a patient is guided into a dreamlike trance with little awareness of the situation or their actions while they are in a trance. In EMDR and brainspotting therapy (BSP), on the other hand, the patient is awake, conscious, and aware the entire time.
In hypnosis, a patient is completely relaxed and is guided through their subconscious mind by a trained hypnotherapist. They are often searching for a specific memory or event that the patient may have repressed.
In EMDR, the patient is hyper-engaged throughout the process and, for some patients, can be overstimulating. In an EMDR session, the patient is asked to perform bilateral stimulation while their eyes rapidly move.
In brainspotting, the patient is asked to focus on a specific point in their vision. The therapist will find the brain spot that corresponds with the trauma that they are looking to resolve and will have the patient focus their attention on it. They then help the patient work through the feelings that emerge from the brainspotting with the aid of bilateral auditory stimulation, typically through music played through headphones.
In both EMDR and brainspotting therapy (BSP), the patient is an active participant in their recovery and in the process of working through negative emotions, thoughts, and experiences, unlike in hypnosis, where they take a backseat to the therapist.
How Do You Get Certified In Brainspotting?
To become a certified brainspotting therapy specialist, you must complete 50 hours of documented and monitored brainspotting (BSP) sessions. In addition, you must also complete all of the brainspotting training as mentioned below and complete an additional six-hour training course with a certified brainspotting therapy specialist.
To legally perform brainspotting therapy (BSP), a person must also have the degree required by the state they are practicing. At a minimum, this is a master’s degree in psychology; however, many states require a doctorate. Once that has been obtained, they will also have to complete and meet any licensing requirements required by the state they practice in.
To date, only 13,000 specialists worldwide are certified to perform brainspotting therapy legally.
What Is Brainspotting Training?
Brainspotting training is a series of in-person or online lectures and classes that a person can take to understand brainspotting better and help them pursue accreditation to perform brainspotting. There are six total training segments and numerous other individual training that go more in-depth on certain aspects of brainspotting.
To participate in the training and lectures, you must register for the classes you wish to take in advance and pay the applicable fees to attend the classes held at specific dates and times.
Who Developed Brainspotting?
Brainspotting was initially developed by David Grand Ph. D. He developed it to help first responders cope with the aftermath of 9/11/2001.
What Therapy Is Best For Trauma?
Several types of therapy can be especially effective for treating trauma. These types of therapy include:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR)
Emotion-focused therapy (EFT)
Since there are so many different types of therapy that can effectively treat trauma and PTSD, it is important to discuss with your therapist and follow their guidance. They believe would be the most beneficial for your situation. Because everyone is different and no two people experience trauma in the same way, it is important to understand your limits and triggers.