Brainspotting (BSP) is a non-verbal method of treating trauma and other stuck energy issues. Since initially learning it in 2007, I’ve used it with many clients. Almost everyone has experienced good effects from their reprocessing. Here is the story of one such case. The client’s name and identifying information has been changed to protect her confidentiality. A note about physical health issues: many people who have experienced abuse somatize their trauma. “Stuck energy” can manifest as physical issues.
Sara was a middle-aged woman who was referred to me so I could help her deal with some of her health issues. She relied on supplemental oxygen round-the-clock and dealt with pain and other health issues on a regular basis. When she was much younger, Sara had been in a facility to work on her eating disorder.
After being in touch with her doctors so that we were all on the same page, we did a genogram (a family tree “on steroids”) so that I could understand her family, health, relationship, addiction, and abuse history. I learned that Sara had an extensive history of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, from some of her family members and her ex-husband. With people who have survived abuse and are suffering from PTSD and other related symptoms, I often start with helping them access and strengthen their resources.
Because of Sara’s extensive abuse history, our first “target” in BSP was “a time when she felt good in her body”. She looked at me like I was crazy and told me she couldn’t think of a time when this was true. I asked her to close her eyes and think about a time when she felt good about her body. She was able to come up with a time. We brainspotted that as a target. At our next session, I asked Sara what she’d noticed during the previous week. She shared that she started setting limits with her mother, something she said she had never done before. In ensuing weeks, she shared more instances of setting limits and boundaries with those around her. She was enjoying being able to take care of herself in this way. All from only one session of brainspotting.
Over our time working together, Sara and I brainspotted a number of times, including abusive situations. When we ended therapy, Sara no longer needed to use oxygen and many of her physical ailments had gone away. Her doctor was astounded. Sara said this was so much better than her in-patient experience dealing with her eating disorder. In fact, she said that BSP had helped her compulsions around food.
Steps for a Typical Brainspotting Session:
- I explain brainspotting and answer any questions
- I ask the client if s/he wants to try brainspotting; if yes, we continue
- Client puts on headphones with biolateral sound (sound that alternates brain hemispheres)
- We define a specific target (the issue we’re going to work on) for that session
- On a scale of 1 – 10, we rate the resource or distress of target
- I notice where clients eyes are drawn or help client find brainspot
- I “Hold the space” and stay attuned with client
- If the client is not talking about what s/he is noticing, I check in with him or her
- When it’s time to end the Brainspotting session, I help the client come to a good stopping point if s/he is not already there (help client de-intensify what they’re feeling)
- We process the BSP session and talk about what to expect in the upcoming week
- At our next session, I ask the client what s/he has noticed
Brainspotting doesn’t necessarily end when the session ends. Like a computer program, the processing can run in the background for hours, days or, sometimes, weeks. It doesn’t interfere with your life. Some people may notice the on-going process until it is completed; other’s do not.
During the check-ins after brainspotting sessions, clients often share stories of how their lives have changed. People have talked about emotional improvements, abatement of physical symptoms, and even changes in relationships.
If you are interested in learning more about Brainspotting or to schedule an appointment, please call (303) 444-2003.