What Is Brainspotting and How Can It Help You?

Are you feeling underwhelmed or even burnt-out by traditional talk therapy? Do you have complex trauma, PTSD, or severe depression? If so, brainspotting might be a beneficial option worth considering for your mental health treatment. It’s a newer form of therapy with emerging evidence showing promising results.

But does brainspotting really work, and is it right for you? Let’s dive in. 

What is Brainspotting? 

Brainspotting refers to a specific type of therapy that emphasizes how unconscious, emotional experiences impact ongoing emotional stress. This mode of treatment is interactive and collaborative; you will undergo a series of body-based interventions to help access the parts of the brain impacted by past experiences. 

Brainspotting is rooted in neurobiology. Your therapist essentially works with your brain to help regulate your central nervous system by identifying (and activating) brainspots. 

What to Expect in Brainspotting Sessions 

Brainspotting therapists first work with their clients to collaborate on a specific issue to address. This discussion helps formulate a treatment plan, which guides the course of your care.

Your therapist will encourage you to share any related thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations related to that issue. Then, they will identify the specific eye position (known as a brainspot). This refers to the intricate, active part of the brain associated with releasing stress or tension.

Theoretically, brainspots can keep people stuck in their problems or past traumas. However, engaging in concentrated eye positions lets you focus on these problems without continuously feeling aroused or overwhelmed. 

One of the overarching notions of brainspotting is the mantra, “where you look affects how you feel.” In other words, your eye positions provide key clues about how the body scans the environment. Your therapist will observe how you respond to your brainspots to provide insight for healing.

Staying on a brainspot for a prolonged period of time allows you to process content that organically needs to arise. Your therapist will inquire about how you feel in that present moment. You can share whatever is on your mind (or stay completely quiet). Your main task is to simply observe any sensations, thoughts, or emotions within that brainspot. 

The length of treatment varies based on your history and individual needs. You may notice substantial improvements after just a session. That said, most people require anywhere from 6-10 sessions for recognizing change.

While there is no such thing as a complete cure, many clients report that it helps them feel more empowered and less “defined” by their issues. They also tend to feel the problem has less control over their lives. 

How Is Brainspotting Different from EMDR?

Brainspotting actually emerged from EMDR roots. Dr. David Grand discovered this method while observing how one of his clients’ eyes wobbled during EMDR treatment. He encouraged this client to keep their eyes on that fixated spot (instead of moving to the side), which led to significant trauma processing. 

Brainspotting and EMDR share numerous similarities. Both treatments are structured, and therapists need additional certifications to conduct this work. In fact, it’s typical for therapists to have training in both models. Subsequently, both treatments focus on past events, emotions, and physical sensations. 

Brainspotting focuses on clients guiding themselves through their own subconscious experiences. The therapist facilitates this work and may engage in bilateral sounds played alternatively in each headphone. However, these stimulations are optional. 

EMDR also entails bilateral stimulations (taps, eye movements, tones) while clients share their target memories. Bilateral stimulations are an integral part of the EMDR process. Over time, you eventually become desensitized to the trauma associated with what happened. 

In EMDR, clients move their eyes from side to side. However, brainspotting therapists focus on where their eyes go when discussing sensitive material. 

Is Brainspotting Right for You?

Brainspotting can treat numerous conditions, such as anxiety, depression, difficult somatic symptoms, or chronic pain. That said, it’s been most widely examined in trauma work. Brainspotting might be beneficial if you:

  • Still feel “stuck” in trauma despite other interventions or therapies.
  • Feel like your emotional states are too intense and even unmanageable.
  • Struggle with regulation or impulse control. 

Some people engage in brainspotting as a standalone treatment. Others may use it as a supplemental tool along with other individual, family, or group therapies. 

Keep in mind that brainspotting is a relatively new treatment. That said, it’s one of the fastest-growing disciplines in mental health, with thousands of clinicians practicing this method around the world. 

Final Thoughts

Brainspotting can help you cope with a variety of mental health issues, and it can also be a powerful tool in recovering from trauma.

At Willow Counseling, we offer several types of treatments intended to help you feel more empowered in your life. Are you interested in learning more about brainspotting? Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. 

Willow Counseling, PLLC – Nashville, TN

Willow Counseling, PLLC exists to provide quality trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community, recognizing the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical selves. We work together to alleviate symptoms, learn better coping skills, relieve burdens, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. However, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.


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