Developed by David Grand, PhD, brainspotting is a mindfulness-based brain-body treatment that combines the power of the attuned therapeutic relationship with the power of neurobiology to attain deep, long-lasting change. While most talk therapy engages the neocortex – the part of the brain that accesses thought, language, and a sense of time – brainspotting accesses the subcortex – the part of the brain that stores traumatic memory; triggers the survival mechanisms of fight, flight and freeze; and governs emotional regulation. This means that brainspotting is able to more directly address the core reason people seek out psychotherapy – a profound sense of disregulation (what most of us call being upset or stressed) and difficulty getting back into a regulated state without help.
Brainspotting is based on the deceptively simple idea that “Where we look affects how we feel.” Have you ever found yourself staring at a fixed spot in space while searching for a word or trying to explain or contain a deeply held belief or emotion? David Grand’s revolutionary discovery was that human beings gain greater access to their subcortex by (1) identifying the body sensation associated with an emotion (for example, sadness might be experienced as a tightness in the throat or dread as a heaviness in the gut); (2) identifying the visual point that gives us greater access to that body sensation; and (3) focusing on the visual point and body sensation together. The power of brainspotting is further enhanced by using specially designed music that that further activates and integrates the right and left hemispheres of the brain through bilateral stimulation.
Brainspotting is a powerful but gentle treatment. Sometimes clients have powerful subcortical experiences almost immediately; other times we work up to those experiences slowly. I am the guide in the brainspotting process – the technician, so to speak – but you are in the driver’s seat.