This blog was originally published by Counseling at The Green House. It is republished here with permission
Last month, I attended a 3-day Phase 1 training for Brainspotting. I was moved by the experience as it affirmed many of my thoughts on healing and what the role of the therapist is in assisting clients to regain control of their lives. Here is a brief overview of Brainspotting, how it works, and why I believe Brainspotting is such a game changer for growth.
What is Brainspotting?
Discovered and developed by Dr. David Grand, Brainspotting is the practical application of the maxim we are taught throughout our training – therapy is about the client; we are not what causes them to change. We create the space to help them heal, but Brainspotting allows the client to go deeper into their subcortical brain to process and finally let go of tensions and trauma. The human body is infinitely complex, and the brain is the control center, processing external experiences and internal understanding of those experiences. Traumatic experiences, specifically, leave lasting impact on our brains and bodies. During a traumatic experience, our brain tells our body to move into survival mode. Only the essential functions to survive are functioning until a safe environment is available. For victims of sustained trauma such as physical or sexual abuse, survival mode is the baseline experience. Even years after leaving the household, relationship, job, or city where the trauma occurred, the body remains on high alert for danger. People learn from experience how to avoid what they previously could not escape, even if they cannot consciously notice their avoidance actions. Therapy is a place to consider the “why” and process how to move forward.
How does Brainspotting work?
Brainspotting therapy is a way for the brain to go into the storage room of your mind and open a dusty box. There are things inside likely forgotten but not discarded for reasons unclear in the present moment. Each item played a part, large or small, in the journey to the present day. Wondering why it is there or why it is in a particular box is understandable, but not the most helpful use of effort when determining whether to keep or discard the item. Much the same with the moments and memories which surface during a Brainspotting session. A feeling of listlessness at work can lead to a memory from elementary school followed by a thought of your favorite ice cream flavor. The brain goes through its own process of sorting and noticing, feeling and processing. Why certain things come up is less important than the act of noticing and remaining curious about what else is coming.
Why does Brainspotting work?
Brainspotting practitioners talk about being the “tail of the comet” for clients – I follow closely wherever the client goes and allow the journey to go where it needs to go. You are the expert on your experience, and you are fully in control of how far and how fast you go. It is not my position to tell you who you are or what you are “supposed to do.” Instead, my role is to encourage you when an obstacle appears, and it is my joy to celebrate with you when a breakthrough happens (and they happen more often than you expect!). Your therapist is not the reason you find success (beware of people who claim otherwise), but I am loudly in your cheering section.
There are 168 hours in the week, and most clients see a therapist for 1 hour each week. 1/168 = 0.0059% of the week. Each one-hour session is a checkpoint on the way to where you are going, and I would be honored to play a small part in your growth and healing story.