Brainspotting therapy: a breakthrough for psychotherapy

Brainspotting therapy: a breakthrough for psychotherapy

Brainspotting therapy was discovered in 2003 by David Grand. He defines it himself as a psychotherapeutic approach that uses the visual field to locate "relevant eye positions". These ocular positions (or brain spots) would be related to certain areas of the brain that are activated in response to psychological trauma.

In other words, David Grand discovered that through the field of vision and the position of the eyes, he could access specific points of the brain where the traumas of his patients were hidden. Once the relevant ocular positions have been located, the work is done from mindfulness on these specific points until the patient reaches a state of resolution.

As we can already guess, Brainspotting therapy is an abstract and complex process. Thus, to better understand the mechanisms on which it is based, we will make a short trip to the past, to find its origins.

When and how was brainspotting therapy discovered?

In 2003, David Grand was treating a 16-year-old ice skater. This teenager was suffering from dissociative problems that hindered her performance.

There were times when she did not feel her legs or she did not remember that sequence she had repeated so many times on her skates. After having dismissed the different hypotheses that could place the origin of this symptomatology on the physical planeSuspecting a dissociative origin, the specialists began to work with her mentally.

David Grand worked with her for a year, until he began to consider the idea that what was happening to him had to do with his mother's rejectionas well as a long history of sports injuries and failures.

Once the working hypothesis was established, during the procedure, the skater had to imagine in slow motion an exercise she could not do. As she imagined it, she had to detect the precise moment she felt and she saw that she was losing control, in order to freeze it.

Grand then encouraged the patient to follow her fingers with her eyes as she moved them from one side to the other. During one of these exercises, the skater's eyes were shaking slightly and there was a remarkable flow of information processing.

Ten minutes later, the treatment slowed down and the ocular blockage stopped. The next morning, the skater called David and told him that she had managed to make the jump she had imagined several times without any problem.

Thus, the author began to suspect that he might be on the verge of discovering something important. To corroborate his hypothesis, he decided to test it with other patients with similar problems; for this, he contacted other therapists who began to test it as well. So, he accumulated evidence of the efficacy of the brainspotting therapy with a wide variety of people with different diagnoses, antecedents and symptoms.

How does the brainspotting therapy work?

As mentioned above, the brainspotting therapy bases its power on a first realization: to locate, in the visual field, the point at which the person feels the most related to his bodily experience. Once this goal is achieved, the observation of internal processes (affection, memory, body sensations, etc.) is promoted in full consciousness.

The patient must observe without critical filters or censor what happens inside, as it happens. At different times, the therapist will intervene, producing small discussions that will review the patient's treatment. At the same time, he will try to redirect their attention to the experience of their own body; the goal will be to reach a state of resolution.

The process or therapy continues until the patient be able to remember or imagine the original reason for activation, ie the trauma, without any disturbance. At this point, the patient will be prompted to restart treatment until activation has almost stopped.

The resolution can occur at any time between the first session and several months, or even years of treatment, depending on the diagnosis, the complexity of the condition and the patient's ability to treat. On the other hand, for the intervention to be successful, the presence, expertise and involvement of the therapist is essential, as well as a deep respect for the therapy.

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