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  • Writer's pictureEmily Smith

Brainspotting: What is it, and how can it help developmental trauma?

Brainspotting was developed by David Grand in 2003, as is a therapeutic approach that combines elements of traditional talk therapy with techniques derived from brain-body science. While the modalities are quite different from one another, Brainspotting was born of an offshoot of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) At its core, Brainspotting recognizes that trauma is not solely a psychological issue but also deeply ingrained in the body and nervous system. In part due to this heavy reliance on the body's automatic and natural processes, many clients have experienced healing effects through Brainspotting after trying many other techniques across time, including EMDR.


The concept of Brainspotting is rooted in the idea that our eye positions can reveal and unlock deep-seated emotional and physiological experiences. A "Brainspot" refers to an eye position that is related to the activation of a traumatic memory, emotion, or bodily sensation. By identifying and focusing on these Brainspots, therapists can help clients process and release unresolved trauma.


How Brainspotting Works

During a Brainspotting session, the therapist guides the client in identifying relevant Brainspots by tracking their eye movements. This can be done through a variety of techniques, such as using a pointer or asking the client to follow the therapist's finger with their eyes.

Once a Brainspot is identified, the client is encouraged to focus their attention on the sensation or emotion that arises. This process allows the client to access the deeper layers of their subconscious where trauma is stored. As the client remains focused on the Brainspot, the therapist provides support and guidance, facilitating the processing and integration of the traumatic experience.


Brainspotting for Developmental Trauma

Developmental trauma, which is considered to be prolonged exposure to traumatic events that occurs in a person's early life and often referred to as childhood trauma, may look like physical or emotional neglect, physical or emotional abuse, instability in caregiving either in a physical sense or due to lack of emotional availability on the part of the caregiver(s), and more. These experiences can have profound and long-lasting effects on a person's physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.

One of the key strengths of Brainspotting is its ability to address developmental trauma by accessing the implicit memory systems where these experiences are stored. Unlike explicit memories, which can be consciously recalled and articulated, implicit memories are stored on a subconscious level and often manifest as somatic sensations, emotional reactions, or behavioral patterns.

By targeting Brainspots associated with developmental trauma, Brainspotting allows clients to bypass the cognitive defenses that may often spring up as a result of their experiences. This direct access to the subconscious enables clients to process and release trauma at its root, leading to profound healing and transformation.


The Benefits of Brainspotting

  • Targeted Healing: Brainspotting enables therapists to pinpoint and address the specific areas of the brain and body where trauma is stored, leading to more efficient and effective healing that is sustainable and long-lasting.

  • Somatic Integration: By engaging the body's innate wisdom, Brainspotting facilitates the integration of somatic (body-based) experiences, allowing clients to release tension, regulate emotions, and restore balance to their nervous systems.

  • Empowerment: Through the process of Brainspotting, clients gain a deeper understanding of their traumatic experiences and develop greater self-awareness and resilience.


At Woven Wholeness Services, we heavily utilize Brainspotting to heal the impact of trauma, and especially developmental trauma. Whether clients are ready to jump in and give it a try or dip their toes in a bit at a time, Brainspotting allows those of us with the specialized training to meet clients where they are and harness their innate capacity to heal. By accessing the brain-body connection and targeting the underlying neural networks associated with trauma, Brainspotting offers a pathway to resolution, restoration, and ultimately, liberation from the impacts of developmental trauma. If you're struggling with the lingering effects of developmental trauma, consider exploring Brainspotting as a powerful tool on your journey toward healing and wholeness.



person brainspotting developmental trauma

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