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What is Brainspotting?

Brainspotting is a technique that was developed by David Grand, Ph.D. The technique itself has roots in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). EMDR is a psychotherapy treatment that helps to alleviate symptoms caused by traumatic memories.

Brainspotting provides a neurobiological tool for accessing, diagnosing, and treating a wide range of somatic and emotionally-based conditions. It seems that Brainspotting acts as a stimulant to the body’s own natural ability to heal itself from trauma. Brainspotting has also been shown to help reduce physical pain and tension caused by physical symptoms.

How Does it Work?

Brainspotting works by directly tapping into the brain’s autonomic and limbic systems, located within the central nervous system. Because of this, it can be considered a physiological treatment, and provides physical benefits as well as psychological and emotional.

Brainspotting works as both a diagnostic tool and a treatment. It works by assessing what a person’s core neurophysiological sources of emotional/body pain, trauma, dissociation, are. It can also work for a variety of other symptoms. Once it identifies the sources of these ailments and pains, it simultaneously treats whatever symptoms it has diagnosed as well. Part of the treatment can include playing Biolateral sound, which can enhance the beneficial effects of Brainspotting through it’s powerful and focused healing properties.

In addition to being both a treatment and diagnostic tool, Brainspotting also functions as a neurobiological tool as it identifies, processes, and loosens up the symptoms that are hidden away in the unconscious mind. This promotes a healthy clinical relationship between Brainspotting and healing.

Why Does it Work?

Brainspotting is so beneficial and unique because it provides a necessary, safe environment for its patients. It is a method that allows for a unique relationship between the patient and practitioner. This usually helps the suffering patient to feel that their pain is finally being understood and helped.

What is a “Brainspot?”

“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.” – David Grand, Ph.D.

How do Therapists Identify Brainspots?

Brainspotting is usually done with both eyes but may also be done with one. A therapist identifies a Brainspot by waving a pen-shaped object in a specific pattern in front of the patient’s eyes, and when the pen-like object comes across a Brainspot, the deep brain will reflexively signal to the therapist that a Brainspot has been found. This happens outside of the patient’s consciousness. These reflexive signals can include (all without the patient being aware of these happening) an eye twitch, facial tic, brow furrow, facial tic, pupil dilation/constriction, swallows, yawns, coughs, foot movement or body shifting. Among these signals, facial expressions are the strongest indicators of a Brainspot.

The identification of a reflexive response that indicates a Brainspot hints at the somatosensory experience of the trauma, emotional or somatic problem. By finding these Brainspots, the therapist is triggering these somatosensory experiences in the patient. To access the Brainspot and the emotions that can follow, the therapist holds the patient’s eye position while the patient focuses on the experience of the symptom being accessed by the Brainspotting.

The therapist and patient work together to find the Brainspots. The patient participates in this by letting the therapist know, during the Brainspotting scan, when he or she feels any heightened intensity, either physically or emotionally.

How Does Brainspotting Act as a Trauma Healing Agent?

The way that Brainspotting heals is that it helps the patient process the trauma that lies within him or her. When the therapist accesses a Brainspot, the patient experiences the distress that is associated with that Brainspot. The patient then experiences the physical or emotional pain that presents itself, and the patient can experience it in a comfortable setting in the presence of the therapist. Over time, accessing this trauma in a safe environment will help the brain to break away from the associated trauma.

Within the field of psychology, professionals have come to realize that when someone experiences trauma, whether it be emotional or physical, it is held in the body. This trauma, potentially caused by a variety of events, such as a serious physical illness, acute or chronic pain, or life trauma in general, can manifest itself in a variety of ways, and one way that professionals can help to target and locate that pain is through Brainspotting. Therapists use Brainspotting to target these areas of trauma stored in the body from previous traumatic experiences.

These traumatic experiences become stored in the body typically because the traumatized person has not had the means to properly deal with the trauma that he or she has experienced. Because the traumatic experiences have not been properly dealt with, they become a part of the person’s trauma reservoir, which can manifest in other physical and emotional symptoms.

The Relationship Between Physical and Emotional Trauma

Health care professionals realize that there are many instances in which physical symptoms are present as a result of psychological or emotional trauma, and it can be very difficult to separate these two. Often, traumatic events, whether they were physical or emotional, lie dormant in the brain in the individual’s unconscious and later manifest themselves into very real physical or emotional symptoms.

Brainspotting Used with Other Therapies

Brainspotting, although it certainly has beneficial properties alone, can also be used in combination with a variety of other healing techniques. Brainspotting can be used as a complementary treatment in conjunction with other body-based therapies such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and physical therapy.

How Can Brainspotting Help You?

Dr. Diane® typically uses Brainspotting in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients and in her patients who have suffered a brain injury as a result of a sports injury. She has found success in treating these types of patients with Brainspotting. There is Help and Hope. There is a Way!®

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Dr. Diane® Roberts Stoler, Ed.D.
7 Hodges Street
N. Andover, MA 01845
Phone: (800) 500-9971
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Dr. Diane is a catalyst for change

Image Credit Elaine Boucher

Within each person shines an inner light that illuminates our path and is the source of hope. Illness, trauma, suffering and grief can diminish the light and shroud hope. I am a catalyst for hope and change, offering a way to rekindle this inner light.

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