Brainspotting, while a little scary in name, is a very simple and noninvasive form of psychotherapy utilizing eye movement to determine trauma points in a person’s mind.
We’ll let that sentence sink in if it doesn’t make sense to you yet. Basically, research has shown that the way we move our eyes while thinking about certain aspects of our life changes when confronted with a painful, traumatic experience – even if we don’t fully acknowledge this emotion or experience, and let it subconsciously fester within us.
Brainspotting is the process of bringing that trauma out and into the light, by way of eye movement desensitization, or EMDR.
How Brainspotting Works
The mind is an incredibly complex and abstract thing. It cannot be dissected and studied like an organic organism. It’s formed and exists entirely in the realm of thought and concept, and that makes it so fascinating to behold and understand.
Despite this freeform existence outside any known or understood physical realm, the mind still seems to follow certain rules. There are limitations to what the human mind can see, do, achieve, and hold onto – and at a certain point (a different point for every person), our mind’s ability to reflect and absorb is overwhelmed by an experience so powerful, that it partially malfunctions.
This is the basic gist of trauma. In its place, the mind is scarred and affected – and despite our ability to function on a relatively high level afterwards, our body’s innate reactions and motions show that when reminded of that portion of our mind, we’re in pain.
Resolving that pain and undoing the scarring is a complex, long process involving several therapy options – brainspotting being one of the most successful to date. Basically, our gaze and the direction of our vision affects the way we feel – this is what David Grand discovered when working with survivors of traumatic events, from terrorist attacks to natural disasters. Trauma, according to the basic principles of brainspotting, is stored in the mind – and almost always within a specific portion of the mind. Identifying and draining that pocket of negativity can alleviate a host of other associated symptoms with it – and that ultimately is the goal of brainspotting.
Where Does Brainspotting Work Best?
Brainspotting was first developed while researching trauma, and the effects of EMDR and somatic experiencing. But that doesn’t mean that its capabilities as a psychotherapeutic tool is limited to the realms of trauma. Research has shown that when applied correctly by a trained professional, brainspotting is a valid form of therapy and diagnostics for a wide range of mental disorders, including:
- Impulse Issues
- Performance and Confidence Issues
If you, or someone you know suffers from any of the above diagnoses, then it’s likely that brainspotting may be able to help them.
It may sound a little bit like something out of a science fiction novel, but it’s entirely scientific and a valid, growing form of psychiatric diagnostics and therapy: eye movement.
The idea is simple – through our eyes and the way we move them, trained therapists can identify certain qualities of our mental health, including which parts suffer from a lack of quality. With eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), therapists utilize the information our subconscious eye movement gives them to achieve certain short-term goals, like rapidly desensitizing someone from a deep-seated trauma, and helping them redirect their energy into something else entirely.
EMDR occurs in short bursts – sessions that last no longer than 90 minutes and involve a rigorous process of meticulously following a person’s vision and utilizing it and rhythmic soundscapes, like toe tapping, to induce a state of heightened emotional and physical sensitivity.
It sounds shifty, but it absolutely isn’t. While it hasn’t been researched for very long, the verdict from a lot of professionals on the field – us included – is that when applied on cooperative patients, EMDR has yielded great results in managing and reducing the effects of post-traumatic stress, anxiety, addiction and eating disorders especially.
How Eye Movement and Mental Health are Linked
We can’t say for sure how it works, but there are theories. EMDR is a therapy method stumbled upon almost by accident – the inherent psychological bridge between our mind, memories and eye movement patterns is still a subject with many mysteries left to uncover.
The basic theory is that certain memories in our minds remain unprocessed because of the raw emotion attributed to them. This is what trauma amounts to – an event of such emotional power that our brain prefers not to undergo the full process of unraveling the experience.
As a result, we face mental consequences related to that repression of inner emotions, and we can’t fix it because we’re subconsciously reluctant to truly live out the entire experience, instead simply receiving sharp images of pain or unpleasantness. This is called the adaptive information processing model, or the AIP. EMDR is a process by which a therapist can identify these unprocessed experiences by guiding you through your life while observing your eye movement. Digging deeper where it hurts while keeping you focused on your vision and the rhythm of a tap then aids a trained professional in resolving those unresolved issues and desensitizing you to their effects on your life on a daily basis.
The Phases of EDMR
EDMR therapy occurs and eventually concludes over a series of sessions, with the exact length differing from one person to the next, and the amount of time and intensity put into each session. It’s impossible to give a successful and individualized program a proper timeframe, so let’s instead focus on the phases of the structure of a typical EDMR session – specifically, the steps that therapy moves through in order to go from the diagnosis of a repressed experience to its resolution, closure and reevaluation.
- Research – Before sessions begin – or are even recommended – we at Vantage Point do a thorough check into your medical and mental history to take into account any signs that may point to an unresolved experience in need of EDMR.
- Preparation and Assessment – Once the presence of a negative belief or emotion is detected, the initial phase of therapy is built around identifying how severe the issue at hand is.
- Desensitization – After that, continued short forays into that painful experience – identified by body language and eye movement – will allow a trained therapist to slowly desensitize you to the past, by using your subconscious movement as a gauge for success.
- Installation and Tension Scan – At this point, the therapy turns into suggesting and installing positive coping mechanisms in place of the experience, and doing further scanning to reveal any other residual tension that may suggest trauma or anxiety.
- Closure – Last but not least, post-therapy discussion can help explain the process and ease the patient into the upcoming steps, and give them an overview of their progress. After this, therapy begins again with the next session.
If you or your loved one is suffering from a repressed emotion, then eye movement desensitization may be an applicable therapy option.
When people think hypnosis, they think sleep or mental manipulation – but that’s not what hypnosis is about. Instead, hypnosis can best be described as a state of deep attention, which is induced by a certified and trained professional.
It’s not easy to hypnotize someone. It’s not as simple as uttering a few phrases and snapping your hands. But when done right, hypnosis – and more specifically, hypnotherapy – is a cutting edge therapeutic tool that works wonders for people seeking to go deeper within their mind.
Not everyone is susceptible to hypnosis. But for those whose minds are, a hypnotic state can be used to help that person reach their goals. This type of therapy is often used among psychologists, therapists, and alternative forms of healers – here at Vantage Point, we make use of it because it works, as simple as that.
How Hypnosis Works
We’re going to level with you here: no one completely knows what hypnosis is or why it helps. What we do know beyond a shadow of a doubt is this: hypnosis does work.
Hypnosis works by guiding someone into a deep state of relaxation, or what we in the business call an altered state of consciousness. When a client reaches this state of deep, secure relaxation, a trained professional offers suggestions that are aimed to bring about change or healing.
For instance, a person might have created an association between stressful emotional situations and binge drinking. Hypnotherapy can be used to break that long-held association, and instead replace it with another association that is healthier and less destructive.
Instead of drinking when a client feels emotionally stressed, he or she might go running to let off some steam. Or another suggestion that might be offered during a session is that he or she talk with a psychologist so that problems don’t build inside. Hypnosis can also work by suggesting that drinking is a bad idea to begin with – subconsciously eliminating the idea that drinking is a way to solve your problems. In short, hypnosis works through planting suggestions in the mind.
Hypnosis as Treatment
It’s important to keep in mind that hypnosis alone is not a thorough treatment method. For instance, although hypnosis might address certain individual problems, it shouldn’t be the only method for treating mental illness, physical illness, or addiction. It’s experimental, effective, and interesting – but ultimately, it’s a treatment option we don’t know too much about, so it should usually be seen as a supplement to a wider and expansive treatment plan.
As an example, for those suffering from bouts of post traumatic stress, the goal for Hypnosis might be to reduce flashbacks and slowly but surely loosen and eliminate the grasp that a trauma has on a person’s daily life. But PTSD also requires a deeper confrontation with the past and an understanding and acceptance of yourself, requiring psychotherapy.
Some people are afraid of hypnosis, particularly because it requires trust in the person who is facilitating the process, and it’s hard to trust someone like that. We understand that – and we will never force one of our patients to try hypnosis if they don’t want to. However, if fears and doubts can be put aside and if a person is able to relax, then it’s possible that this form of treatment can lead to significant results.
Types of Hypnotherapy
When a person experiences hypnotherapy, it’s common that he or she does not know which form of hypnotherapy is being used. Typically it’s one of two ways:
- Traditional Hypnosis: The therapist gives direct suggestions to the unconscious mind. This is a good type of hypnosis for those who readily accept what they are told.
- Ericksonian Hypnosis: The therapist uses metaphors to give suggestions and ideas to the client’s unconscious mind. This type of hypnosis is effective for those who tend to resist change.
Hypnosis is a highly individualized process, and it requires the full cooperation of the patient and a very well-trained hypnotherapist. If you or your loved one are facing mental troubles and want the help of a professional hypnotherapist, then you’ll have found one here at Vantage Point.