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What is Brainspotting?

By: Connie Toft, 19 April 2017 

Brainspotting (BSP) is a technique used to process difficult life experiences that remain unresolved with verbal processing or talk therapy.  A brainspot is a specific eye gaze or “spot” in the visual field that is correlated to physical stress and discomfort when recalling or remembering difficult or traumatic experiences.  

Naturally we look around as we talk, and brainspotting optimizes this as it gives us helpful information about how the brain stores experiences.  A brainspotting session begins by first talking about the troubling situation or trauma, then noticing sensations in the body associated with this awareness.  An eye gaze direction or “spot” is identified as it correlates to physical sensations by intentionally tracking eye direction and related feelings.  

This process aids the client and therapist to access regions in the brain that are otherwise difficult to access with talk therapy alone.  Highly charged emotions are common with difficult, frightening, and traumatic experience.  However, emotion and physical experience are not stored in the region of the brain that we ordinarily use for language.  This means that when a brainspot is located, there is an opportunity for resolution and a transformation of the original experience.  

An equally important part of the BSP technique is the therapist’s awareness to not only what is being said, but also the apparent nonverbal process and emotion of the person working through the experience.  The therapist’s presence offers support and compassion while reducing feelings of loneliness that often accompany traumatic rememberings.  Often when the experience is reprocessed, the support of a caring person is an additional way to reconnect with emotions, placing them in the past and creating a sense of increased freedom in everyday life.  

There are several ways to approach BSP that can be accommodated to the person’s comfort level and preference.  For this reason, the approach and technique are very client centered and empowering.  The person who is processing is in charge of their own experience. 


More helpful links about Brainspotting, and other related topics, under the Links & Resources tab!

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