What is Brainspotting?

Brainspotting is a brain and body-based form of therapeutic reprocessing of distressing or traumatic experiences. Based on the premise “where you look affects how you feel” brainspotting therapists guide clients to locate points (brainspots) within a client’s visual field. Brainspots are theorized to correlate to and activate distressing memories, emotions, or traumas. The goal of brainspotting is to bypass the thinking brain or “neocortex” to utilize the brain’s natural ability to self-heal in the unconscious or “subcortical” brain. 

Brainspotting vs. EMDR

Originating from an adaptation of EMDR, brainspotting has developed into a distinct modality, though it retains some similarities to EMDR. Below are some of the similarities and differences between EMDR and brainspotting. 

  • In clinical research, brainspotting and EMDR have been found comparable in reducing symptoms of PTSD. 
  • Both brainspotting and EMDR utilize bilateral stimulation in session. In EMDR clients experience brief sets (BLS) of bilateral stimulation. Comparatively, during brainspotting clients often continuously listen to bilateral music designed to engage both hemispheres of the brain. 
  • Compared to EMDR’s structured protocols, brainspotting is a more flexible modality for deeper therapeutic work. It can be integrated with different therapeutic models. 

“Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change you do choose.”

Michele Rosenthal
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Who May Benefit from Brainspotting Therapy

David Grand originally discovered brainspotting through his work with athletes experiencing performance anxiety. Since his original findings, research has shown brainspotting to be an effective treatment for PTSD, though it can also be utilized to treat the following: 

  • Toxic stress 
  • Anxiety 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Depression 
  • Somatic symptoms 
  • Distressing memories 
  • Deeply held negative beliefs about self 

Clients who feel they have plateaued in traditional talk therapy may especially find benefit in considering deeper, brain-based therapeutic interventions such as brainspotting or EMDR. Overall, brainspotting is a helpful tool to aid in re-regulating nervous system dysregulation.

What to Expect

In a brainspotting session, the therapist and client will discuss the client’s therapeutic goals and present symptoms. Before beginning a brainspotting session, it is common for the client to listen to bilateral music through headphones to aid in regulating the nervous system through distress. Based on the client’s reported distressing event or memory, the therapist will encourage the client to notice where they feel that distress in the body. As the client notices the embodied feeling of distress the therapist will guide the client to find a spot in their visual field that connects to the embodied feeling of distress. Brainspotting therapists are trained to notice subtle cues that can assist in finding a client’s brainspot. 

Alternatively, there are instances where it is recommended clients brainspot off of a calm “resource” spot rather than a distressing spot. Once identified, the client will hold their brainspot as they note what they are experiencing physically and emotionally. During brainspotting, clients are able to talk as much or as little as they would like. For clients who prefer to process silently, it is common for the therapist to regularly check in with the client. It is common for clients to experience releases of emotion as they process. In the flexible nature of brainspotting, brainspotting can be a part of a session or take the whole length of a session based on individual client needs. 

For questions about whether brainspotting may be a good fit for you feel free to schedule a consultation.

Begin Therapy in the Nashville area

If you live in the Nashville area and are ready to explore therapy options for healing trauma, we are here to help. To begin individual counseling, follow these three steps:

1. Contact our counseling office or call 615-235-3508 to schedule a free 30 minute consultation

2. Begin therapy and move forward with your life!

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Schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see if therapy with Willow Counseling is right for you.

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Begin individual therapy at Willow Counseling. Schedule an appointment to meet with one of our compassionate counselors.

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Other therapeutic services offered at Willow Counseling

Willow Counseling offers a variety of therapeutic services to help you on your road to healing & better mental health. Some of our other counseling services include counseling for trauma and EMDR therapy, therapy for compassion fatigue, and group counseling services for anxiety and compassion fatigue.  If you are ready to find healing and live in the Nashville area, our therapists are here to help!