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Mental health is incredibly complex, and maintaining overall mental wellness can be somewhat complicated for many people, particularly during challenging times in their lives.
For those struggling with mental health concerns, reaching out for help can seem intimidating, particularly when there may be very limited knowledge about the treatments or therapies that are available.
There are many different treatments available because there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for mental wellness. This means that it’s important for individuals struggling with mental health concerns to investigate and evaluate all of their potential treatment options. One of the emerging evidence-based therapy options that has been growing in popularity recently is called brainspotting therapy. This is a technique that provides a powerful and unique approach to treating mental health concerns, including trauma.
We’re going to dig into brainspotting therapy and look at how some of the leading recovery centers use brainspotting therapy for mental health. We’ll check out how the therapy itself works, and what types of individuals may be able to gain the most benefit from it, finally looking at how it compares to other types of therapy.
What Is Brainspotting Therapy For Mental Health?
Brainspotting therapy is a new and innovative therapeutic approach that originates from the fields of psychotherapy and neuroscience. It was originally created in the early 2000s by Dr. David Grand during his experiences working with clients that were struggling with trauma. He found that by having the individual focus on a very specific eye position, ultimately termed the “brainspot”, they could more easily access deep emotional and physical sensations. As a result, profound healing can be experienced.
This method is centered around the idea that our brains store traumatic memories and even emotions, in a particular location, known as brainspots. By identifying and working through these spots, many individuals can release emotional pain and work through their trauma, eventually processing those complex feelings and memories and moving on toward healing.
How Does Brainspotting Therapy Work?
When an individual partners with a therapist for brainspotting therapy, the therapist will help guide the client through a series of eye movements to locate and identify a brainspot. They will be looking for a brainspot that correlates with the specific emotions, memories, or physical feelings that are related to the issue at hand. Once the brainspot has been located, the client and therapist work together to process and eventually release the stored emotions, feelings, or memories.
For those interested in a step-by-step rundown of what a typical brainspotting therapy session may look like, the general elements will include:
- Assessment: The therapist and the client will first discuss the overall issue, and begin defining the emotions, memories, and even sensations associated with it.
- Finding The Brainspot: This step involves the therapist guiding the client’s eyes through a range of positions and focal distances while watching for any potential changes in the individual’s facial expressions or body language. These indications help them identify the brainspot linked to the mental issue.
- Processing: Processing is the next step, and this is where the therapist supports the individual in working through and processing the memories and feelings associated with the brainspots. The method in which the patient works through the feelings will vary but can include techniques like visualization, deep breathing, and bodily awareness strategies.
- Release: Eventually, as the individual processes and works through the memories or trauma, they will often experience a release of tension, anxiety, sadness, or another noticeable catharsis that results in a sense of relief and even healing.
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Who Can Benefit From Using Brainspotting Therapy For Mental Health?
Brainspotting therapy has been shown to be a highly effective treatment for a variety of mental health concerns, including but not limited to:
- Trauma – Brainspotting is particularly effective for individuals that are dealing with the after-effects of traumatic experiences, including those with diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Anxiety – Brainspotting therapy is also useful in helping manage the symptoms of anxiety, and can even help patients reduce the overall severity of their panic attacks.
- Depression – Individuals that are struggling with depression may also find benefits in brainspotting. It can help identify and process the emotional pain at the root of the depression.
- Loss & Grief – This method can be beneficial in helping clients process and overcome the complex feelings that come with grief and loss.
- Phobias – Another type of individual that can benefit from brainspotting therapy is someone trying to confront and overcome phobias or other irrational fears.
In addition to being useful in the treatment of various mental health concerns, brainspotting is also used to help refine and improve those who perform publicly, such as athletes and public speakers. In these cases, it’s used to help boost general performance and remove lingering anxiety or apprehension.
How Is Brainspotting Therapy Different From Other Treatments?
There are many different therapeutic frameworks and modalities that are available for treating mental health concerns, but despite this, brainspotting, while relatively new, is able to positively distinguish itself from other therapies by standing out in the following ways.
Direct Access To The Emotional Brain
Many other conventional forms of psychotherapy primarily engage the cognitive brain, or the thinking part of the brain, brainspotting directly accesses deeper emotional areas. This helps individuals work through emotional issues much more effectively.
Another major benefit that brainspotting therapy has over other therapies, is that it is a non-invasive and gentle therapeutic method. Patients don’t need to think about or discuss their emotions or trauma in detail, which sometimes leads to the treatment itself being traumatic. This makes it a perfect option for those who have struggled with more traditional talk therapies.
Since brainspotting is such a highly targeted treatment technique, it can often lead to quantifiable results in less time than other methods. Many individuals participating in brainspotting therapy report major improvements after only a handful of sessions.
Flexible & Adaptable
Brainspotting can easily be integrated into more intensive treatment programs, or included as a component of a more comprehensive treatment approach. It can also be directly combined with treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and even somatic-based therapies. This high level of versatility let’s therapists create highly individualized treatment programs.
Focus On The Body
Brainspotting therapy is based on the inherent connection between the body and the mind. This enables patients to address specific physical symptoms that may be linked to their trauma or emotional challenges and means there is no time wasted in finding the solution for those challenges.
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Brainspotting therapy has emerged as one of the more powerful and accessible therapies available to help individuals work through their trauma and process challenging emotions and feelings. If you or someone close to you has been struggling with their mental health recently due to difficult thoughts or emotions, brainspotting therapy may be an ideal choice to incorporate into your personalized trauma-based care plan. Reach out to Casa Recovery today to speak with an experienced member of our team.