what is brainspotting
Brainspotting functions as a neurobiological tool to support the clinical healing relationship. There is no replacement for a mature, nurturing therapeutic presence and the ability to engage another suffering human in a safe and trusting relationship where they feel heard, accepted, and understood.
Brainspotting gives us a tool, within this clinical relationship, to neurobiologically locate, focus, process, and release experiences and symptoms that are typically out of reach of the conscious mind and its cognitive and language capacity.
It is theorized that Brainspotting taps into and harnesses the body’s innate self-scanning capacity to process and release focused areas (systems) which are in a maladaptive homeostasis (frozen primitive survival modes). This may also explain the ability of Brainspotting to often reduce and eliminate body pain and tension associated with physical conditions.
How does Brainspotting Work
A “Brainspot” is the eye position which is related to the energetic/emotional activation of a traumatic/emotionally charged issue within the brain, most likely in the amygdala, the hippocampus, or the orbitofrontal cortex of the limbic system. Located by eye position, paired with externally observed and internally experienced reflexive responses, a Brainspot is actually a physiological subsystem holding emotional experience in memory form.
When a Brainspot is stimulated, the deep brain reflexively signals the therapist that an area of significance has been located. This typically happens out of the client’s conscious awareness. There are a multitude of reflexive responses, including eye twitches, wobbles, freezes, blinks (hard and double blinks) pupil dilation and constriction, narrowing, facial tics, brow furrowing, sniffs, swallows, yawns, coughs, head nods, hand signals, foot movement and body shifting. Reflexive facial expressions are powerful indicators of Brainspots.
The maintenance of that eye position/Brainspot within the attentional focus on the body’s “felt sense” of that issue or trauma stimulates a deep integrating and healing process within the brain. This processing, which appears to take place at a reflexive or cellular level within the nervous system, brings about a de-conditioning of previously conditioned, maladaptive emotional and physiological responses. Brainspotting appears to stimulate, focus, and activate the body’s inherent capacity to heal itself from trauma.
Brainspotting is also very useful to access and develop internal resource states end experiences. These resources allow the therapist and patient, where necessary, to “pendulate” between resource or positive states and trauma states during Brainspotting to enable more gradual, graded processing and desensitization of intensely traumatic and emotionally charged issues and symptoms.
Any life event which causes significant physical and/or emotional injury and distress, in which the person powerfully experiences being overwhelmed, helpless, or trapped, can become a traumatic experience.
Why Is Brainspotting Used
There is growing recognition within the healing professions that experiences of physical and/or emotional injury, acute and chronic pain, serious physical illness, dealing with difficult medical interventions, societal turmoil, environmental disaster, as well as many other problematic life events, will contribute to the development of a substantial reservoir of life trauma. That trauma is held in the body.
In most cases, the traumatized individual does not usually have the opportunity or the support to adequately process and integrate these traumatic life events. The traumatic experience then becomes a part of that individual’s trauma reservoir. The body and the psyche cannot remain unaffected by the physical, energetic and emotional costs extracted by this accumulated trauma load. The medical and psychological literature now acknowledges that approximately 75% of requests for medical care are linked to the actions or consequences of this accumulation of stress and/or trauma upon the systems of the human body.