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Using Brainspotting to Reshape Neural Pathways for OCD Relief

You don't have to struggle with the same obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors for the rest of your life. Instead, you can take control of your anxiety, reshape neural pathways, and refocus on something that brings you peace.


That's where Brainspotting comes in. Through this innovative technique, you can learn to better manage your mental health and finally break the cycle of intrusive thoughts and compulsive behavior that is so common with OCD.


Essentially, Brainspotting helps to calm anxiety and build new neuropathways, allowing the individual to stay out of the content of the obsession. In this article, I'll explain in more detail how Brainspotting works and how it can help those suffering from OCD find relief.

woman holding model brain for brainspotting session
The Brain and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The Brain and OCD: How Orbital Frontal Cortex, Cingulate Gyrus and Caudate Nucleus Are Involved

When it comes to OCD, it's not just in your head—it's literally in your brain. Three different parts of the brain come into play when it comes to obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior.


The orbital frontal cortex is responsible for detecting something that goes wrong and sending out an alert signal; the cingulate gyrus receives this signal and triggers anxiety; and the caudate nucleus does not always shift smoothly from one thought to the next, resulting in intrusive thoughts getting stuck on a loop.


This in turn leads to the classic symptoms of OCD: worry and rumination, difficulty controlling thoughts, anxiety, compulsions and obsessions that cause distress and interfere with daily life. Thankfully, brainspotting can help you to rewire these neural pathways and calm anxiety by refocusing and staying out of content of obsessions while building new neuropathways.

diagram of brain and the three parts of the brain that interact in a faulty way in clients with obsessive compulsive disorder
The Faulty Circuit OCD Brain


What Is Brainspotting? How It Works to Calm Anxiety and Build New Neuropathways

When it comes to treating OCD, one of the keys is rewiring or reshaping your neural pathways. You've already got your brain wiring and structure in place, so how can you do that? Well, one way is with Brainspotting.


The 3 parts of your brain involved in obsessive thinking or compulsive behaviors — orbital frontal cortex, cingulate gyrus and caudate nucleus — can be reprogrammed so they work together better. It's like an upgrade to your brain's operating system.


This reprogramming does a few key things: it helps calm anxiety levels; helps build new neuropathways; and helps you refocus and stay out of the content of the obsession. It does this by helping you access emotions stored deeper in your brain, which can then be released naturally — a process known as "neural plasticity".


Using Brainspotting to reshape neural pathways can provide an effective treatment for OCD. With its connection to emotional well-being, more helpful thoughts, and healing at a deeper level, it could be just what you need to take back control over those obsessive thoughts and behaviors.


How Brainspotting Helps Refocus and Shift Out of Obsessive Thinking

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in a loop of obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior? You're not alone. This is a common symptom of OCD, and sometimes it can be tough to get out of that vicious cycle.


Brainspotting works for OCD through a specific setup created by Dr. Pie Frey. First, you work towards accepting OCD as a "faulty circuit". We will work together to help you shift away from the idea that there is something wrong with you. Because there's not. OCD is a brain thing, not a you thing.


Next, we work together to eliminate the activation you experience when thinking about and reflecting on the obsessive thought. This may take one or several sessions. Last, we begin to strengthen the neural pathway that leads to more helpful thoughts. Ones that bring you joy and peace.


Brainspotting reduces anxiety and helps create more neural pathways for alternative behaviors, allowing someone with OCD to stay out of the loop and refocus their attention on something else entirely.


Remember, Brainspotting is not a “quick fix” solution for OCD, and the effects may be gradual. With patience, consistency, and an understanding of the three main parts of the brain involved with OCD, Brainspotting can be a powerful tool to help manage anxiety and refocus away from obsessions.


References:

Brainspotting - OCD model developed by Pie Frey, psy.D. updated 2020 ... (n.d.). https://drpiefrey.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Brainspotting-UPDATED-OCD-SET-UP-2020.pdf


Doidge, N. (2017). The brain that changes itself: Stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of Brain Science. ReadHowYouWant.



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