In Ocean Mental Health Services

A new approach to psychotherapy that utilizes the field of vision to facilitate healing.

BY: Stephanie Iannelli, LCSW Outpatient Department

  • Developed by Dr. David Grand in 2003, Brainspotting is a neuro-physioloigcal/psychological approach.
  • The clinician and client find the Brainspot together; the client notices his/her internal senses, while the clinician observes automatic reflexes such as blinks, twitches or sniffs.
  • Focusing on the spot allows access to deep parts of the brain where difficult feelings and sensations are held. This part of the brain is non-verbal, non-cognitive with the ability to recalibrate itself.
  • Bi-lateral music is used to activate both the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which facilitates making new and better connections for emotional balance.
  • The brain is organically driven by a survival instinct and it’s ability to adapt.
  • Trauma and other emotional experiences create dissociative barriers that block the brain’s communication, and ability to self regulate.
  • To view Dr. Grand’s explanation of Brainspotting go to YouTube

What to expect in session:

  • The client will describe the difficulty they are experiencing: this is referred to as “focused activation” = a feeling related to trauma or emotional state.
  • The client is then asked to rate the activation on a scale from 10 to 0; 0 being no “activation”.
  • The brainspot is located, as mentioned above, by moving a pointer across the client’s visual field.
  • The client is then invited to observe their internal process without judgment; this process may include body sensations, memories, emotional feelings, and thoughts.
  • At times, the client may feel “nothing is going on” – this is actually positive as it indicates the deep subcortical brain (unconscious and non-verbal) is at work. Another name for this processing is “focused mindfulness”.
  • At various points during processing, there may be discussions. On the other hand the session may remain silent, which is just as effective, if not more so.
  • The process continues, with the client usually having a reduction in activation number.
  • A process has started in the brain that continues after session; there is nothing negative about ending session with a number larger than 0.
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