What is Brainspotting
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.
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What is Somatic Experiencing Therapy?
The SE approach offers a framework to assess where a person is "stuck" in the fight, flight, and freeze repsonses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiologcial states. It is a body oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other anxiety and stress disorders. The SE approach releases traumatic shock which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and developmental attachment trauma for all stages of development.
The sciene behind the SE approach is that trauma or chronic stress may begin as acute stress from perceived life threat or as the end product of cumulative stress (i.e. on going abuse or neglect). Both types of stress can seriously impair a person's ability to function with resilience and ease. Trauma may result from a wide variety of stressors such as accidents, invasive medical procedures, sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse, neglect, war, natural disasters, loss, or the corrosive stressors of ongoing fear and conflict.
How It Works: The SE approach facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy trapped in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma sypmtoms. This approach gently guides clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions.
The SE approach wa developed by Dr. Peter Levine. Please visit www.traumahealing.org to learn more.