Brainspotting Therapy

After working with hundreds of clients for the past 15 years, I realized that sometimes talking is just not enough to create lasting and meaningful change. In response to the idea that many clients need to go deeper than traditional talk therapy can, I extensively studied and became a certified Brainspotting Therapy Practitioner, working with adolescents and adults.

Brainspotting (BSP) is a cutting-edge mind, body, and relational based psychotherapy that utilizes focused mindfulness to quickly and efficiently get to core issues and resolve them. It also works effectively to move kids and adults from dysregulation into regulation (from stress to calm).

BSP is backed by research and applies the newest developments in the field of neuroscience. My clients typically report that they get more in a few sessions of BSP than months or years in other kinds of therapy.

BSP is very flexible and can be used either to reduce the negative or to increase the positive.  

In terms of reducing negatives, Brainspotting Therapy can help you:

  • Diminish feelings of anger and reactivity
  • Reduce anxiety and panic by resetting the nervous system
  • Decrease the stress of public speaking or test taking
  • Sort through feelings of ambivalence about leaving a relationship or job
  • Resolve a single event trauma such as being in a car accident or seeing something traumatic
  • Remove blocks to growth so you can perform more effectively in work, sports, and in life

 

In terms of enhancing positives BSP can be utilized to help you:

  • Connect with others more authentically and intimately
  • Get in touch with your own intuitive wisdom, understand yourself better, and trust yourself more
  • Experience positive emotions more often
  • Work through a complex problem and get ideas about how to more productively solve it or at least to better cope with it
  • Increase feelings of calm when dealing with stressful life events: surgery, medical diagnoses, an injury, grief, a job interview, testifying in a trial, etc.
  • Feel more confident and motivated to meet your own goals such as weight loss, money management, setting boundaries and more
  • Reclaim parts of yourself that you have lost touch with, such as an artistic part, a confident part, a financially independent part, a carefree part etc. 

Brainspotting Therapy FAQs

I charge $125/hr. Some need more time for Brainspotting Therapy, so I also offer 90 minute and 2 hour sessions. 

I do not take insurance but would be happy to provide you with a superbill for submission to your insurance company for possible reimbursement. Please contact them for your out of network coverage.

Brainspotting is an offshoot of EMDR, which is a well-known and well-regarded trauma therapy. Research has found Brainspotting to be as just as effective as EMDR in treating trauma, and it can also be used to treat many more issues and symptoms than trauma.  

The creator of Brainspotting, David Grand, was a master EMDR clinician and trainer when he discovered that he could get even more direct access to his client’s emotional wounds, anxiety or painful core beliefs by using the client’s field of vision (where their eyes are looking) and keeping them looking in a particular spot, (the brainspot).  He found that his clients were getting even deeper and better resolution to their problems than they had with EMDR. 

He called this newer, more cutting edge modality, Brainspotting (BSP).  It’s now been almost 20 years since his discovery and over 16,000 therapists all over the world have been trained in this approach.  I am proud to be one of them.

BSP can not only be used to reduce what you don’t want (painful emotions like anxiety, guilt, anger and sadness, as well as negative memories), it can also enhance positives and build on what is already good in your life, cultivating more joy, motivation, self-confidence and well-being.  

Brainspotting (BSP) utilizes bilateral music which balances the left (thinking) and right (emotional) sides of the brain, calms you, and primes your brain for the experience.  You listen to the music with headphones that I have in my office. 

As you talk about your struggle, we determine where you feel either calmer or more anxious by where you are looking (to the left, in the center, or to the right).  The motto of BSP is that “where you look affects how you feel” and most clients truly can notice a difference in how they feel about their issue based on where they are looking. 

It is theorized that our emotional wounds are held frozen in our deeper (subcortical) brain in capsule form, and that the spot where we look (the brainspot) gives us access to that experience in our brain and body. 

Once the capsule is unlocked, the frozen memory (and everything attached to it including feelings, body sensations, and thoughts) thaws and catches up to the rest of the brain, resulting in a feeling my clients repeatedly call a state of “wholeness.”

After this processing, the issue no longer interferes with a client’s functioning and outlook on life. The emotional wound is no longer a trauma; it simply becomes a memory. 

I tell my clients it’s as if certain experiences are held in the brain in little file cabinets, and BSP helps us find the right cabinet, unlock it, sort through and process everything inside of it, resulting in much relief for the client.  

Brainspotting typically resolves issues faster and more comprehensively than traditional talk therapy and other approaches.  

While I can’t know the exact number of sessions that will work for you, depending on what you are struggling with, you will likely see a dramatic change in how you are experiencing your symptoms from the very first session. 

How often you come is completely up to you. 

Brainspotting (BSP) is unlike any other therapy modality.  I strongly recommend that all of my clients try it at some point if they are serious about resolving their issues, coping with their problems more effectively, and making meaningful and long-lasting changes.

Many of us have gone to therapy for a few sessions (or read a good self-help book) and gotten motivated to make some changes for awhile.  However, many find that the changes don’t seem to last and we go back to our old patterns, negative thinking, and getting stuck in painful emotions once again.  

Sometimes clients come to therapy because it’s the one place where they can spend a whole hour talking about whatever is on their mind. Being heard feels good! It’s completely appropriate to want to use the therapy hour to talk and share your thoughts and feelings with your therapist.

At the same time, simply talking has its limitations when it comes to real change.  Talking typically only engages the prefrontal cortex which is where language is stored.  Talking does not tap into the subcortical brain which is where our feelings, unconscious beliefs and emotional wounds are stored.  So while talking about problems and symptoms may seem insightful and temporarily relieving, it rarely produces in-depth, lasting resolution. 

In contrast, BSP bypasses the neocortex and goes straight into the subcortex where your intuitive wisdom is and where your brain holds painful memories, emotional wounds, and deeper beliefs that are out of your awareness. 

While we will use a session or two to talk about and understand your problem and your goals for therapy, I also encourage you to use part of a session to try BSP.  

A BSP therapist prides themselves on their relational attunement to the client, resulting in the client feeling extremely heard, seen, supported, and validated.  A BSP therapist believes that your symptoms are purposeful, and are there with you to help you find the sense in your struggles, so that you can understand how powerful and wise you are and how you have everything inside of you already that you need to heal, solve your own problems, or at least cope more effectively when your problem can’t be solved. This understanding is a gift you typically can’t get through talk therapy alone. 

I feel very honored to accompany my clients on their journey to well-being, groundedness, growth and wholeness.  

Brainspotting is considered a gentle, safe and effective approach for releasing and resolving negative experiences.  Most clients report that their sense of suffering in regards to their struggle has lessened dramatically during the session.  

However, because trauma is stored in the brain in capsule form, when we open that capsule, there can be an activation of distress.  I tell my clients that it’s like riding a wave–the distress may get intense but it always comes back down and is generally tolerable, even at its peak. 

Because trauma is also stored in the body, some clients may experience shaking, shimmying, eye tremors or other physical symptoms.  While it can feel awkward and uncomfortable, this is a very normal way to shed trauma.

The good news is that this is direct evidence that the trauma has been identified and is being processed and released, with the client feeling very calm, grounded and in a state of well-being after the session.  

During a Brainspotting session, you will listen to calming bilateral music with headphones at a very low volume so you can comfortably talk and also hear me. 

We will discuss what issue you would like to work on.  You will tell me how activating (distressing) the issue is for you currently on a scale from 0-10 (with 0 being neutral and 10 being highly activating).  

Then I will ask you where you feel the activation in your body (some people aren’t aware of feeling anything in their body. This is ok). Many clients are aware of feeling tension in their chest, head, stomach or back.  

With a teacher’s extendable pointer, I will then work with you to find your brainspot (the place in your field of vision that gives us access to the issue you would like to work on). 

Once we find a brainspot, I will ask you to continue to look at the pointer and mindfully process whatever comes up for you.  

We are all amazing and unique human beings and everyone processes their experience differently. 

This can make Brainspotting a little bit hard to explain, but after working with over 100 people in the last year, I’ve found that most people process in one of these distinct ways:

Feeling emotional – many will cry and release pain. However, some get in touch with anger or guilt at a certain spot, and some can even feel joyful or unusually calm at a spot. Once you work through the painful feelings you will get to a point of feeling more neutral and will usually report that your distress around the issue has greatly reduced.  With kids, I always find them a spot where they feel excited about something good in their lives, and we can expand that sense of happiness and get it as big as we can.  They leave my office feeling happy, hopeful and anxiety-free. 

Feeling body sensations- some clients report that they can feel tension in their chest, head, shoulders, back or stomach and that it rises and dissipates during BSP.  We process the issue until you are feeling better, the body sensations have subsided, and you are feeling calm and grounded. 

Visual processing – some people process visually, meaning they have an experience that seems a bit “trippy”.  They may see a glow around the pointer, the room may go dark or seem to move, the therapist seems to disappear or get farther away, and some see a flurry or colors.  While this can seem a bit unsettling at first, clients typically are able to relax into the experience.  Many times those who experience visual processing go into a trance-like state that we call the “healing spot” and they report feeling peaceful, free from anxiety, and possessing a deep sense of well-being. 

Thoughts – some clients process in thoughts and concepts.  They seem to be getting direct messages from their subcortex about the issue.  Many clients have been able to work out how they will approach a complex situation in which they had formerly felt stuck, some have decided whether they will stay or leave a painful relationship, and some have gotten a direct message from within that they will be “ok” in the midst of a very challenging crisis.  

Memories – some clients see certain memories or images connected to the issue they are processing flash by in their mind.  Witnessing the images go by in the mind is healing. Often a memory that formerly felt traumatic now feels like a regular memory.  

Shaking/shimmying/eye twitching – some clients process by releasing their trauma that has been stored in the body. When this happens the client may experience movement, shaking, or twitching in their body.  While this can feel awkward, it is a natural response to releasing stored up trauma, and clients report feeling much lighter after.  

In BSP, we believe that your brain, body and nervous system is genius and that you have everything inside of you that you need to resolve your struggles.  If your struggle involves an unsolvable problem, BSP can help you more effectively cope.  I will encourage you to trust your system and your unique healing process. 

The BSP therapist is an expert on the Brainspotting process, but you are the expert on yourself and your life.  Together, we create a healing journey to peace, contentment, joy and well-being. 

After your Brainspotting session, we will leave some time at the end for you to process your experience with me and make sure you are feeling calm and grounded. 

One thing to be aware of is that you may feel very tired after.  Some people may need a nap right after the session, although some actually feel more energized.  

Another thing to know is that you can continue to process for up to 72 hours after a BSP session, which means you may still be making connections in your mind, and getting in touch with beliefs, memories, and thoughts around the issue. Most people say this feels tolerable, and many report that the well-being they feel after a BSP session lasts for an extended period of time. 

Yes! I enjoy working with kids and adolescents 11 and up.  Kids are amazing at Brainspotting and typically process quickly, get relief fast and the well-being lasts for an extended period of time.  

I use BSP with kids struggling with anxiety and stress, as well as the nervousness that often accompanies their sports performance.  BSP Therapy teaches kids that they can trust their own inner resources, cope with difficulties, and handle life’s challenges. 

BSP works to reset the nervous system leading to increased confidence and well-being.  Kids typically love the bilateral music and the sense of calm BSP brings them.  

Please note – I primarily work with children in the context of Brainspotting Therapy.  I will talk to your child for as long as necessary to get a sense for what matters to him/her and what they are struggling with, and from there I will primarily use BSP to help them. It goes deeper, last longer and helps them much more than traditional talk therapy. 

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