Brainspotting & EMDR

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What is Brainspotting

Brainspotting is a trauma therapy that works from a neuro-experiential lens and within the body’s central nervous system where trauma is stored. It is considered a treatment with profound psychological, emotional, and physical benefits.

This therapy gives us a tool to locate, process and release experiences that are typically out of reach of the conscious mind. These are things we often struggle to even put into thoughts and words.

Brainspotting taps into the body’s natural self-scanning abilities to process and release areas which are in a state of survival mode. This may also explain the ability of this therapy too often reduce and eliminate body pain and tension associated with physical conditions.

The connection of Physical & Emotional Trauma in the Body

There is growing recognition within the healing professions that experiences of physical and/or emotional injury, acute and chronic pain, serious physical illness, dealing with difficult medical interventions, societal turmoil, environmental disaster and other problematic life events, will contribute to the development of a substantial build up of life trauma. That trauma is held in the body.

In most cases, the traumatized individual does not usually have the opportunity or the support to adequately process and integrate these traumatic life events. The traumatic experience then becomes a part of that individual’s trauma reservoir. The body and the psyche is heavily affected by the physical, energetic and emotional costs of this accumulated trauma. The medical and psychological literature now acknowledges that approximately 75% of requests for medical care are linked to the affects of this accumulation of stress and/or trauma in the body.

Brainspotting as an Integrative Treatment Approach

Every health care professional encounters treatment situations in which physical symptoms cannot be separated from their emotional or psychological correlates. Traumatic life experiences, whether physical or emotional, are often significant contributing factors in the development and/or maintenance of most of the issues encountered in health care.

Brainspotting is a somatic therapeutic tool which can be integrated into a wide range of healing modalities. Brainspotting can be useful as a complement to various body-based therapies including advanced bodywork, chiropractic, acupuncture, somatic therapies, physical therapy, nursing, medicine, and other specialized approaches to physical healing. It is a valuable resource in the treatment of a wide range of medical, physical and psycho-emotional issues encountered by health professionals.

Brainspotting provides a tool for accessing, diagnosing, and treating a wide range of somatic and emotionally-based conditions.

Brainspotting as a Resource

Brainspotting is also very useful to access and develop internal resources. These resources allow the therapist and patient to “pendulate” between resource and trauma states during Brainspotting. The experience is more gradual and desensitization of intensely traumatic and emotionally charged issues is more tolerable.

Below, a client talks about his journey to healing from the effects of childhood trauma through Brainspotting.

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is considered one of the most effective treatments for trauma, and is both evidence and research-based. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma and in a much shorter time than traditional talk therapy. It is often the treatment of choice for processing the emotional charge of painful experiences and memories, and has been used successfully to treat anxiety, depression, fears and phobias. Other issues we can use EMDR with include:

  • Complicated Grief
  • Negative beliefs about yourself or body image
  • Toxic Shame
  • Problematic relationships
  • Car, motorcycle, ATV accidents.
  • Fear of flying
  • Fear of success or failure
  • Performance anxiety (Musicians, Athletes & Actors)
  • Symptoms of trauma
  • Any ‘stuck’ painful emotions or memories
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Migraines and Chronic Pain

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

When we go through something painful or traumatic, our brains can have difficulty processing or ‘digesting’ the experience. The painful memory can become stuck in our memory network along with the sensory information from when the experience happened. This is why certain smells, sights, textures and tastes may bring back the memory of that experience in a very clear, and disturbing way. Even if it happened years ago, it can feel as if it happened today.

EMDR helps to “unlock” those disturbing memories and experiences through Bi-Lateral Stimulation (BLS).  BLS can take many forms, including eye movements, tones, tapping and/or tactile ‘pulsers’. By alternating stimulation of both hemispheres of the brain, new insights often occur as the issues become unstuck allowing the client to make sense of them. This allows the client to have one foot in the past and one foot in the present while remaining safe and in control.

The memories themselves do not disappear, however your relationship to the memory will likely change, making the memory feel much less scary and painful, both in your mind and body. For instance, a rape victim shifts from feeling horror and self-disgust to holding the firm belief that, “I survived it and I am strong.”  Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes.  The net effect is that clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that once debased them. Their wounds have not just closed, they have transformed.

Clients who recieve EMDR Therapy often report feeling increased confidence, positve self-image, more control over their emotions and a sense of freedom from past experiences, phobias and fears.

Extended sessions are recommended to allow you to explore more deeply into the processing and stay there longer–and therefore heal more quickly.

For more info about EMDR Therapy, please visit

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