Whole Heart Therapy

Pamela Boysen, LCSW             714 844-7282

September 21, 2020

Brainspotting: A new tool to support your healing from trauma and PTSD

A client shared with me, “I get paralyzed with fear especially when someone quickly comes up to my left side and more so when I am in a dark parking lot where I experienced a sexual assault over 20 years ago.” 

This client went to therapy right after her traumatic experience and with talk therapy she was able to eliminate the nightmares, but the paralyzing fear in parking lots at night never went away. So, she contacted a therapist requesting brainspotting.

What is brainspotting?

A relatively new type of therapy that helps people access, process and overcome trauma, negative emotions, and pain, including psychologically induced physical pain. Brainspotting was developed by David Grand,PhD., to work with survivors of trauma, and has been an effective form of treatment for a variety of mental health concerns.

How does it work?

Brainspotting is a physiological form of treatment that works with the brain and the body through its direct access to the autonomic and limbic systems within the body's central nervous system. The activity in the brain as it responds to focus and eye position is how Brainspotting received its name. In other words, where you look affects how you feel.

During a brainspotting therapy session you are asked to think of an issue that activates a traumatic memory or strong, perhaps even intense, emotion. With the aid of a pointer, the trained brainspotting therapist will guide your eyes across your field of vision to find the appropriate “brainspot” on the issue you chose.. You will be asked where you feel this activation in your body and then become quiet to listen and follow the cues your body gives you. Your therapist will remain still and supportive of anything you sense or feel. If the activation becomes too intense, your therapist will help you find another spot that is grounded, neutral, and calm. By moving back and forth between the neutral spot and the activated spot, healing begins.

Why use Brainspotting?

There is increasing evidence that trauma is “stored” in the body and that it can alter the way the brain works. A trauma expert, Bessel van der Kolk, who wrote The Body Keeps Score, says, “Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies…In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Simply, healing occurs when the body is part of the process.”

Brainspotting activates a deep part of our brain, where there may be no words. Brainspotting does not need for you to tell your story, but it helps you to release the story from your body. These are powerful deep psyche clearings that can eradicate the pain and suffering emotionally and physically in the body.

Let me share a client experience activating the deep part of her brain and her results.

This client struggles with speaking up for herself in relationships and shared that she feels unhappy most of the time and is easily angered. She said she felt like everyone else got what they needed and she never did. To start the session, she chose the relationship with her children’s father as her issue. With this focus during the brainspotting session, the client became aware that as a young child she took care of her siblings to stay out of foster care. She became aware was this same caretaking she did with her children’s father. During the brainspotting session she experienced sensations of heaviness and darkness, a release of tears, and then lightness. Within a month, the client made significant shifts through an increased awareness of past behaviors that, while helpful when she was younger, were unproductive in her relationship with her children’s father. She now has an updated parenting plan to meet her work schedule.

And how did the story end for the client who was paralyzed with fear? Using brainspotting she connected to a spiritual aspect of self. During this connection, she felt and saw an image of an angel wrapping her arms around her. The client felt this angel’s presence during two separate brainspotting sessions. The client reports she has not experienced the paralyzing fear since.

If you have had a traumatic event that has impacted you emotionally or physically, please give me a call. Let’s talk about how brainspotting might free you from your pain and let you heal.