Is Brainspotting Therapy Right for Me?

Is Brainspotting Therapy Right for Me?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

There are many ways to heal from trauma, and everyone copes with trauma uniquely. That’s why it is important for people to learn about the services that are available for treating trauma and to choose therapies that are best suited to them. Effective therapies for trauma disorders include brainspotting therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), neurofeedback therapy, and other individual or group therapies.

Traumatic events can range from natural disasters to being the victim of violence. After those experiences occur, a person may have a variety of emotional and physical effects. One may experience fight-or-flight responses to stimuli that trigger the traumatic memory. Possible emotional symptoms include frequent worrying and anxiety. Physically, a person may experience headaches, stomach pains, and difficulty sleeping.

At First Steps Recovery, trauma is treated in various ways. Both clinical and holistic services are incorporated into clients’ treatment plans. One particularly helpful service we offer for trauma is brainspotting therapy.

How Does Brainspotting Therapy Work?

Brainspotting therapy is an alternative therapy that uses the client’s field of vision to assist in processing trauma. An area of the brain called the subcortical brain region is responsible for emotion, learning, motion, and consciousness. This is the part of the brain where trauma tends to get “stuck,” hindering clients from fully healing. Trauma is “frozen” here because the body works to maintain homeostasis and stability. Brainspotting, however, can access this place and continue processing the trauma so a person can fully heal.

Brainspotting therapy emphasizes and uses mindfulness and attunement to process trauma. This therapy is meant to be calming for the mind rather than trigger any heavy or challenging emotions. Many clients enjoy the fact that brainspotting therapy can help them process trauma without forcing them to discuss or relive their experiences.

With this type of intervention, clients are not engaging in emotionally upsetting re-activation. Instead, a person briefly brings the memory to mind and experiences how it feels in their body. Then, a therapist guides a client’s eyes with a pointer to find an appropriate eye position to activate a psychophysiological response to the intended trauma. This spot is held to promote the client’s processing of the traumatic experience. This helps to resolve the thoughts and emotions associated with that experience. Clients listen to acoustic bilateral sounds and focus on their body sensations during the session rather than doing any verbal processing. Moreover, verbal reports following the session are unnecessary.

Brainspotting Compared to Other Therapies at First Steps Recovery

EMDR and CBT are two other therapies offered at First Steps Recovery that can be helpful for trauma. Both of these therapies are effective, but they both involve discussing the trauma with a therapist.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

With EMDR, the traumatic memory is the target of treatment. This can be intense for clients. While processing memories, thoughts, and sensations, and providing verbal reports, clients may “relive” the disturbing event. While not everyone is bothered by this, some people find it to be too intense.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

In CBT, clients are encouraged to verbally express their thought patterns in order to restructure them. This form of talk therapy is very direct and requires clients to discuss those experiences and resulting thoughts and feelings. This is done to promote restructuring and healing. For some people, this may be challenging. However, most people benefit from reevaluating their patterns of thought.

Mindfulness Therapy

A holistic therapy that can be helpful with trauma is mindfulness therapy. Mindfulness is a holistic therapy at First Steps Recovery that is self-guided. Clients use mindfulness techniques such as meditation to become more present to the world around them and themselves. Keeping this mindful awareness in the present rather than in the past (such as in past traumatic experiences) is the goal of this intervention.

Because mindfulness therapy is something clients can do in their daily lives, it requires a certain amount of self-directedness. Holding oneself accountable for practicing mindfulness skills can feel like a lot of pressure when someone is overwhelmed with stress and discomfort. Sometimes clinical services that are guided by a therapist are easiest to begin with, as the pressure to be actively involved is reduced.

Benefits of Brainspotting Therapy

Facing intense emotions and thoughts may be overwhelming when someone is starting out in their treatment journey. This is completely normal, and knowing the level of intensity one can handle at the beginning of treatment is important. Often, when coping with very intense traumatic experiences, brainspotting therapy can be the best therapy to begin with.

Clients beginning their journeys may also feel like they need more guidance in terms of treatment and therapy. Trauma needs to be handled with care, and First Steps Recovery works to achieve this by providing multiple layers of treatment. Clients who feel as if the verbal expression is too much to handle when first starting out are encouraged to participate in brainspotting therapy.

Here at First Steps Recovery, we offer brainspotting therapy as one of our options for treating trauma disorders. Trauma is complex and unique to each client. This means one person’s coping mechanisms and treatment path is often different from another’s. Clients may feel that discussing and re-experiencing their traumas is too overwhelming. They may feel that jumping into talk therapy or other therapies that target traumatic memories will trigger too many difficult feelings and thoughts. Fortunately, brainspotting therapy simply focuses on one’s field of vision to help the brain persist past being “frozen” in a past traumatic experience. To learn more about brainspotting therapy and coping with trauma at First Steps Recovery, please call us at (844) 489-0836.

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