Facebook Connect Brainspotting Therapy to treat complex trauma and PTSD - Vantage

Brainspotting Therapy

Brain ImageHere at Vantage Point, one of our unwritten rules and missions is to continuously pursue ways to help our clients. We know and understand that medicine – in particular, mental health – owes its growth to innovate methods like brainspotting treatment, and an evolution of what’s considered applicable and viable as a mental health treatment.

As a collective species, we’ve gone from using herbs and rituals to archaic and even medically unsound practices, all the way to modern-day pharmacology and hi-tech science. We’ve gone from diagnosing clients per the four humors, to modern-day non-invasive therapy tools that help individuals further their own understanding of how they think and feel, using that knowledge to control their issues.

And doubtlessly, as generations pass, especially in the Information Age, new ways to address mental health issues will arise with a rigorous scientific process attached to them, expanding our understanding of how our brains and minds function.

One of those relatively new ways and one we’re extremely excited about is Brainspotting therapy – a therapy type developed first by David Grand, Ph.D., a licensed clinical social worker. Where Brainspotting has humble beginnings, being found “by accident” during an EMDR session, it has evolved into being one of the primary techniques used for the treatment of complex trauma & PTSD.

While we’re careful here not to make bad analogies when it comes to mental health, looking at a treatment plan can feel a little bit like visiting a fusion restaurant and going over the menu choices – a lot of it can sound overwhelming and odd in name, but end up being quite pleasant, or surprisingly mundane. We take our job extremely seriously, so we want to see to it that you know exactly what you’re getting before you place your order. And one of our less known and more exotic-sounding treatment options is brainspotting.

Brainspotting Therapy is a relatively recent form of treatment for many stress- and memory-related mental health issues, insofar that it’s been around for over a decade, but has only recently begun to gain traction in mental health circles as a legitimate therapy. It’s built around the concept of brainspots – areas of the mind where emotional turmoil and trauma are encapsulated, the release of which can trigger relief from the symptoms of several mental diagnoses.

Brain Image2Brainspotting purports to work in a more focused, powerful way than other common treatments. This is because it simultaneously identifies and begins processing trauma and other symptoms of mental illness. In this process, it releases the neurophysiological sources of the emotional and physical aspects of pain, trauma, dissociation, and more. Bilateral sound is used as part of the treatment, which enhances Brainspotting with deep and direct, but also containing, effect.

Brainspotting is not recommended as a therapy to be used on its own. Rather, it is a neurobiological tool that can be used in the therapeutic environment. It should be administered by a therapist who is empathetic, experienced in active listening, and is able to generate a sense of safety and acceptance in their offices.

The reason Brainspotting may be necessary in the traditional therapeutic relationship is that certain experiences and symptoms cannot be reached by the conscious mind through thought processing and discussion. Brainspotting facilitates the location and release of these hidden experiences.

The History of Brainspotting

It’s beginnings started in 2003 when therapist David Grand created the modality, specifically for use in trauma patients. Brainspotting is also known as BSP. The therapy was born through research conducted on trauma patients from natural disasters, war zones and terror attacks, to specifically determine the existence of brainspots and their role in the resolution and dissolution of traumatic stress – and the efficacy of BSP as a diagnostics and treatment tool.

Brainspots, as an integral part of BSP, follow the theory that the mind and body stores trauma and stress within itself, and that contributes to the paralyzing effect a traumatic experience can have on people. Repressed memories, with intrusive thinking and unwanted flashbacks, are symptoms of an unhealthy “clump” of feelings located within the deeper brain. Eye movements help a therapist identify the location and nature of these feelings and through a form of exposure therapy, brainspotting therapy can actively address and help eliminate the symptoms of traumatic stress and other related mental illnesses.

It has grown phenomenally in the past decade, with over 10,000 trained therapists throughout the world on four separate continents. Although it’s an entirely separate treatment with a very distinct structure and underlying theory, brainspotting is the extended result of research done into both somatic experiencing and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

Brain Image3How Brainspotting Therapy Works

The methodology is simple. Brainspotting is based on the expanded concept of eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy and is based on the practice that the direction in which people look or gaze affects how they feel. During Brainspotting treatment, a trained therapist will use a pointer to help you position your gaze in a way that lets them target specific sources of negative emotion, or “brainspots”, pockets of vision wherein a person activates a traumatic memory, most likely in the amygdala, the hippocampus, or the orbitofrontal cortex of the limbic system.

The idea behind Brainspotting is that by activating that emotional pain through the simple practice of adjusting a client’s gaze and focusing on the body’s “felt sense” of that issue or trauma, a deep integrating and healing process in the brain is stimulated. This processing, which appears to take place at a reflexive or cellular level within the nervous system, brings about a de-conditioning of previously conditioned, maladaptive emotional and physiological responses. Brainspotting appears to stimulate, focus, and activate the body’s inherent capacity to heal itself from trauma.

There’s a fair bit of evidence out there on the validity of the therapy itself, although the exact science behind the mechanism is still being studied. However, not only have we learned first-hand the power of Brainspotting Therapy, stories continue to pour in from across the globe speaking about how the modality changed their lives.

Brain Image4Why We Advocate Brainspotting

We understand that Brainspotting does not have the long and accomplished track record of decades’ older therapy tools such as cognitive behavioral therapy or even other cutting edge treatment techniques such as EMDR. However, we at Vantage Point believe in staying ahead of the curve, filling our arsenal with therapeutic tools that have a proven track record that go beyond the limits of the mainstream. We know that every type of therapy used today was at some point still in development, and met with skepticism. Brainspotting, while it may sound implausible at first, has proven itself time and time again as a valuable tool for diagnosing and treating trauma victims. See the charts below that outlines the effectiveness Brainspotting had on both adults and children of the Newtown community impacted by the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012

As a tool, brainspotting therapy doubtlessly has its uses – that’s why we recommend it. But another strong suit for the method is its ability to act as a diagnostic tool, giving trained therapists further insight into your symptoms, their causes, and any codependent issues you may have as a patient.

It doesn’t take much experience with mental health issues to understand that mental health is complex, and individual cases can be vastly different from one another even across the same diagnosis. And symptoms broadly apply to many different conditions, making it tough to pinpoint what the problem might be, why it manifested, and how it can be beaten. Brainspotting can help a therapist further identify the nature of your diagnosis.