brainspotting therapy

Essentials About Brainspotting (BSP) Therapy

Updated on October 18, 2022
Written by Alejandro Sandoval

Anyone who is keeping up with new types of alternative therapy will likely have come across the word “Brainspotting.” In short, this type of therapy uses the spots in an individual’s visual field to assist with processing trauma.

Brainspotting helps bring out trauma in the subcortical brain, which is the location where learning, emotions, consciousness, and motion are stored.

Brainspotting was first discovered in 2003 by David Grand, Ph.D., as he worked in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. Grand saw that a patient seemed to be stuck in a single spot. Staying there allowed Grand to see the person going deeper, which led to Brainspotting as therapy.

Some believe that Brainspotting is more beneficial than EMDR because the patient does not need to relive trauma many times to release it from the human body. It’s available SandovalTherapy for those with various conditions located in Pasadena, CA.

The Basis of Brainspotting

Brainspotting is a therapy that works on the theory that traumatic feelings can be stuck in the body to cause mental and physical problems. This therapy is used to reset the brain and body’s memory of an incident or trauma. It’s one of several therapies that focuses on a connection between mind and body, such as EMDR and somatic experiencing.

Whereas traditional therapy is considered “top-down” to solve problems in the mind, Brainspotting is a “bottom-up” therapy that helps release physical body stress and remove emotional stress.

Brainspotting deals with the midbrain, which is responsible for things like motor control, sleep, hearing, and vision. When someone experiences trauma, this part of the brain may freeze up so the body can remain in a defensive mode.

What Brainspotting Therapy Can Be Used On

Most of the time, Brainspotting is used to help people alleviate and discover trauma. However, it can also help with other issues, many of which may be related to the effects of trauma. Some of the conditions it can help with include:

  • Anxiety
  • Attachment problems
  • Chronic pain
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use

Studies show that those who engage in Brainspotting therapy may have reduced anxiety, depression, and PTSD in only a few sessions. In addition, it may reduce pain, increase energy, and help a person get better sleep. It can lessen negative thought patterns and make memories less painful.

The Brainspotting Therapy Process

Brainspotting therapy has a fluid series of steps, and there is no specific protocol, so it can vary from one provider to the next. However, most sessions will have a certain blueprint that they follow. An example might look like the steps outlined below.

While a therapist from SandovalTherapy, Pasadena, CA, might be guiding the session, much of it is led by the patient. You might start by doing some relaxed breathing exercises or listening to music that moves from one ear to the other through headphones.

After a state of mindfulness is reached, you choose a place in your body that feels the most significant distress. You’ll then rank the level of distress on a scale of one to 10.

The therapist will guide you to find your brain spot, which is where your eyes will focus when you feel the most discomfort in your body. You may be guided to this area through the therapist’s finger or a pointer rod. They’ll help you find the spot where you are stuck so you can work on it.

Therapists may choose an inside or outside window approach. For the inside window, you identify the point where you wish to process. In the outside window, the therapist will recommend a place for you to leave your gaze and attention on.

From this point, you and the therapist will focus on any feelings that come up for you while you stay honed in on this part of your body. Once complete, you’ll take some time to process what came up during Brainspotting therapy and any insights you may have come to.

In the end, you’ll again rate your level of distress, which is often lower than when you started the session. Many people feel a release physically or mentally, whether that comes out as mild shaking or tinging in the body or something unique.

In some cases, you’ll feel emotional or exhausted after the session is done. You might also notice challenging feelings coming up. This is a normal part of the process, but it’s important to reach out to a therapist if the feelings are too intense.

Brainspotting Therapy in Pasadena, CA

At SandovalTherapy, Alejandro Sandoval provides Brainspotting therapy, EMDR therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and more. If you’re ready to speak with an educated professional who specializes in depression, anxiety, stress, racial identity, and trauma, you can reach out today.