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Topics of Interest

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Brain-based therapy: Brainspotting

Brainspotting is a powerful evidence-based therapy approach successfully used in treating mental health conditions and emotional distress.  This modality of body based, somatic treatment was created by David Grand. Ph.D. in 2003.  David Grand noted that "where we look affects how we feel" because the subcortical brain organizes itself around the position of the eye.  Brainspotting therapy locates points in the visual field that help access and release trauma stored in the body.  In other words, it helps the person release and process traumatic experiences by accessing them in the subcortical brain while bypassing the neocortical thinking brain.


Brainspotting therapy works on the midbrain which controls parts of the central nervous system that are responsible for processes such as vision, hearing, sleep and motor control.  When trauma occurs, this part of the brain typically goes into freeze mode to conserve resources for self-defense.  These resources would be used if facing some physical danger, as in fighting off a tiger, however, psychological trauma does not require such resources.  The brain does not respond differently between physical or psychological threat, and the trauma gets stored in the body leading to physical and/or mental problems.  World famous Psychiatrist Bessel Van Der Kolk, in his seminal book "The Body Keeps the Score," goes into detail about how psychological trauma does not vanish from the brain or body, but stays in the body unless released through somatic types of interventions.


Brain Spotting has been shown to be effective in treating the effects of trauma and emotional dysregulation, as depression, anxiety and PTSD, attachment issues, chronic pain, substance use.


Brainspotting can be used by itself, or in conjunction with other modalities of therapy.  Brainspotting, along with Somatic Experiencing and EMDR are bottom-up therapeutic approaches versus the typical top-down therapeutic approaches used in talk therapies that rely mostly on the thinking brain.   

One study* found Brainspotting to be more effective than either EMDR or CBT—and patients even continued to get better following their treatment being over.  All other modalities showed patients’ symptoms returning at the 6-month follow-up.

*Hildebrand A, Grand D, Stemmler M. Brainspotting – the efficacy of a new therapy approach for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in comparison to eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Mediterranean Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2017;Vol 5:No 1 (2017).


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