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A Beginner's Guide to Understanding Brainspotting

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

So you've been hearing a lot about this brainspotting thing and want to know what all the hype is about. Well, you've come to the right place. Brainspotting is a powerful psychotherapeutic tool for accessing and releasing trapped emotions. As a beginner, brainspotting may seem a little weird at first. Staring at eye positions to access trauma?? How exactly does that work? Don't worry, we'll walk you through the basics so you have a good foundation to get started.

So what exactly is brainspotting?

Brainspotting is a powerful form of therapy that works by identifying eye positions that are linked to emotional activation or trauma. Once these eye positions, known as “brainspots,” are located, a therapist can help the client process and release deep-seated emotions and trauma.

Brainspotting helps clients access parts of the brain that are holding onto painful memories or negative beliefs. When a brainspot is activated, it’s like a doorway is opened in your mind, allowing you to finally confront experiences that you may have suppressed or avoided. With the guidance of a trained brainspotting therapist, clients can gain insight into their pain, work through stuck emotions, and reframe negative beliefs.

Some of the benefits of brainspotting include:

Reduced anxiety and distressing symptoms. Brainspotting can help alleviate chronic anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, and other issues.

Improved self-esteem and confidence. By confronting inner pain and negative beliefs, brainspotting helps clients develop a healthier and more compassionate view of themselves.

Better focus and performance. Releasing emotional baggage and trauma can help clients feel less distracted and more present in their daily lives.

Healthier relationships. Addressing attachment issues, emotional wounds from the past, and negative thought patterns contributes to improved connection and intimacy with others.

An overall sense of well-being. Brainspotting leads to a lighter, more peaceful state of being as clients shed layers of hurt and find deeper self-acceptance.

How Does Brainspotting Work? The Science Behind It

A lot of people have been asking me how brainspotting actually works. The science behind it is fascinating...

Brainspotting is based on how our brain processes information and stores memories. Basically, when something happens, our brain takes a ‘snapshot’ of the experience and stores it away for future reference. These snapshots include details about what happened as well as how we felt at the time.

There are several ways to find a brainspot. Since this is a phenomenon that happens naturally, your therapist may have you recall a traumatic memory or negative experience while observing your eye movements. As your eyes move around, your therapist is looking for points where your eyes wobble or you have an obvious physiological response. These points are thought to indicate where those emotional 'snapshots' are stored in your brain.

Once eye positions are located that elicit a strong emotional response, your therapist will have you focus your gaze on those spots. This helps to activate the memory network in your brain associated with that event. While focused on these spots, your brain then begins to process the memory and release your emotional experience.

The key is that brainspotting gives the brain a chance to reprocess difficult experiences in a safe, controlled way. By activating the memory, the emotional charge can be reduced and cleared over time. The end result is that past traumas lose their power over you, allowing you to move on from painful events.

What Can Brainspotting Help Treat?

Brainspotting can be used to help treat a variety of concerns. Some of the areas it has been shown to be particularly effective for include:

  • Anxiety and stress: Brainspotting can help identify and release the deep-seated anxieties and worries that often fuel chronic stress and anxiousness. By accessing the emotional roots of anxiety, brainspotting can help you develop new ways of responding to anxiety-provoking thoughts and situations.

  • PTSD: Brainspotting is a very effective treatment for reducing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including flashbacks, nightmares, and dissociation. By helping process traumatic memories, brainspotting can help PTSD sufferers gain awareness and release the painful emotions connected to past events.

  • Performance issues: Brainspotting can help improve performance in sports, work, creativity, and more. By releasing mental blocks and anxieties related to performance, brainspotting helps you gain mental clarity and focus, allowing you to perform at your best.

  • Relationship issues: Our relationships are deeply connected to emotional experiences from our past. Brainspotting can help shed light on unhealthy relationship patterns and attachment styles. Releasing old emotional wounds and trauma can help develop more secure, nurturing relationships with others.

  • And more: Brainspotting has been shown to help with a wide range of mental and physical health issues. Some other conditions that may benefit from brainspotting include chronic pain, insomnia, depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and chronic illness. The list goes on and on.

What can I expect in a brainspotting session?

In a typical brainspotting session, you will sit comfortably while focusing on a point in the visual field or a stationary object like a pointer. While gazing at the object or point, you reflect on or discuss the issues or memories you want to explore. You do not have to talk about your trauma to heal from it!

Your therapist will guide you to notice where you where you experience sensations in your body. You will continue gazing at this "brainspot" as your mind associates freely and processes arise. The session usually lasts around 45 minutes.


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