Brainspotting is a powerful neurobiological therapeutic treatment method to help release emotional and physiological pain. It derived from EMDR (which I also conduct) in 2003, and reaches a deeper level of our core physiological system. Brainspotting helps identify why we have the emotional and physical responses that we do, and then brainspotting treats this response at the same time.
People are an accumulation of good and bad experiences. We cannot control which memories affect us or how they affect us. Even when we know why and how something affects us, our response–our thoughts, feelings, and behavior– do not change. These responses are automatic and may affect our relationships, perceptions, and how we interact with the world, so these responses need treatment.
It is difficult to understand that bad experiences affect you in ways that you don’t notice. When you have strong reactions to a person, what or how something is said, or have physical pains and anxiety, these reactions come from a previous negative experience, and your brain is reacting/triggered in fear from the previous experience. Your brain is trying to protect you, but it needs to process differently because these responses are affecting you negatively.
Brainspotting helps you look at the previous negative experiences that affected you, and allows you to be able to respond through your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors differently. It will enable your brain to categorize the memory so that you are not unconsciously triggered or responding in a way that is not helpful to manage your emotions. The brain’s job is to protect us, so it controls these processes to protect us out of fear, but we can retrain the brain with different information so that it is not causing you more emotional pain.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is also a psychotherapy treatment that was developed in the 1990s, that enables emotional healing from disturbing life experiences. Emotional pain used to take a long time to heal, but therapists have incorporated neuroscience and different types of therapy to enable the healing process to be quicker.
Think of our brains as being this huge filing cabinet in our heads. The brain opens the appropriate drawer, takes these brightly colored file folders and files the memories in the correct place. Until a file folder gets left on top of the cabinet because the brain does not know where to file it. The brain keeps going back to that file folder know that it needs to be filed. EMDR and brainspotting direct the brain where to file it appropriately.
The same happens if you receive a physical wound, your body heals it. If you have a foreign object left in the body, it irritates the wound and doesn’t allow the wound to heal properly. Once the foreign object is removed then healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.
Sandtray is an expressive therapy for children and adults. Through the use of miniature figurines, toys, and objects, a client is able to express their internal world non-verbally through symbolism and metaphors to help them resolve conflict and gain insight into their unconscious processes.