Where You Look Affects How You Feel.


Have you ever felt stuck? Felt stuck in your depression or anxiety? Or maybe you have been going to therapy or counseling for awhile over some sort of trauma, but you feel like the symptoms just keep sticking around or don’t get any better. If you have ever felt stuck in a rut, high anxiety or repeating an unhealthy habit (despite your good intentions to change) then Brainspotting may be an ideal therapy to help you breakthrough.

Topic Of Discussion

What is Brainspotting?

Brainspotting (BSP) is a relatively new type of therapy designed to help people access, process, and overcome trauma, negative emotions, and pain, including psychologically induced physical pain. It combines body-based approaches, the power of the therapeutic relationship and brain-based processing. It is based on the premise that “where you look affects how you feel” and finds that eye positions correlate with unconscious, emotional experiences.

It reaches parts of the brain that are not generally accessed through traditional talk therapy approaches and most other types of therapy.

This type of therapy was discovered in 2003 by David Grand, PhD, as an advancement of his work in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. Grand had observed a client getting “stuck” in one spot. While staying in this one spot, Grand observed her going deeper than ever before and Brainspotting was born.

How Does Brainspotting Therapy Work?

Brainspotting works on the theory that feelings from trauma can become stuck in the body, leading to both physical and mental ailments. It is believed that the brain’s memory of a particular trauma or incident is “reset” in the body and brain through Brainspotting.

This “stuckness” can be described as “frozen maladaptive homeostasis.” Our bodies are generally meant to be in a state of homeostasis, attempting to maintain a stable environment, but this particular kind of homeostasis is not helpful. Brainspotting accesses this and attempts to integrate this interrupted processing of the trauma.

It is one of a few types of emerging therapies focusing on the brain-body connection, including Somatic Experiencing and EMDR.

Traditional talk therapy is known as a “top-down” therapy. That is, traditional therapy tries to solve problems with the conscious mind. These brain-body therapies are known as “bottom up” therapy, which aims to release the physical stress in the body, thereby leading to release the emotional stress in the body as well.

While a therapist may attempt to access both the physical and emotional “locations” of negative emotions, brainspotting therapists use something called “dual attunement,” a process through which the therapist simultaneously attunes to the therapeutic relationship as well as the brain-body response of the person in therapy.

Brainspotting therapy works on the limbic system and midbrain, which controls a collection of brain structures that play a role in emotion, long-term memory, cognition, motivation, impulse control, and several other psychological factors that can affect well-being. When trauma occurs, this part of the brain typically goes into freeze mode to conserve resources for the body to be in defense mode.

What is a Brainspotting Session Like?

During a Brainspotting session, the brainspotting therapist will help the individual identify an issue to work on. While focusing on the issue the person will notice how they feel, sense and experience the issue in their mind and body. From here, the eye position or “brainspot” associated with this issue will be identified. A brainspot is not just one spot in the brain but rather an active network in the brain that leads to a deep releasing of the issue where it is stored in the mind and body.

The brainspot acts like a doorway into all the stored, stuck “baggage” from the past. The focused eye position further allows the brain to stop scanning externally for threats and instead internally self-scan to identify and maintain its presence on the deeper unresolved issue. When a brainspot is activated, reflexive movements can be observed by the therapist that provide valuable access to healing. These movements come from deep regions of the brain, outside of our conscious, cognitive, and verbal awareness.

People report having deeper and more profound releases with Brainspotting as compared to other brain-based and traditional therapies. The brain is re-stabilizing, resourcing, and “rebooting” itself during Brainspotting, and the processing often continues to occur after the session has ended.  A doorway has been opened and information will continue to come up and out for releasing and healing.

Who Can Benefit From Brainspotting Therapy?

Though Brainspotting therapy is primarily focused on discovering and alleviating trauma, it can help many different types of issues, especially since trauma’s effects are so far-reaching. Brainspotting is suitable for anyone, and is very helpful in treating a wide variety of conditions such as:

  • Physical & Emotional Trauma
  • Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Phobias & OCD
  • Depression
  • Grief & Loss
  • PTSD
  • Sports, Performance & Creative Enhancement
  • Chronic Pain Conditions
  • Addictions

Brent Metcalf, LCSW is a trained Brainspotting therapist at Tri-Star Counseling. If you feel stuck and ready to move past your trauma, depression, anxiety, or other concerns, request an appointment for Brainspotting today. Tri-Star Counseling would love the opportunity to journey along side of you to help you heal.

Check Out More