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Brainspotting: Somatic Therapy in San Diego

Brainspotting: A New Kind of Somatic Therapy in San Diego

Brainspotting might not be all that new as a Somatic Therapy modality in San Diego, but it is a new modality in my practice.  

For years I wanted to get trained, but was really busy getting certified in Compassionate Inquiry.  

What I learned about attuning to clients and allowing my client to be with what comes up in CI, has made Brainspotting a very natural addition.   


What is Brainspotting and How Does It Work?


Brainspotting is a very somatic based therapy that is helpful with not only trauma and PTSD, but stress, negative emotions, pain, creative blocks, and addictions.  

It is based on the premise that “where we look matters.”  The direction we gaze affects how we feel.  I know that sounds kinda’ crazy but we do this a lot, very naturally.  

When we try to remember a detail in a story we often shift our eyes to a certain position to think.  

As we take a test we stare off at a spot to concentrate and remember.  

Or if we write a blog and try to make sure we get all the details,

we close our eyes but shift them a certain direction.  


What Happens in Session?

WIn Brainspotting, the therapist helps the client discover these brain spots by attuning to the client’s non-verbal cues as they move a pointer across the client’s visual field.  

Once the brainspot is discovered the therapist attunes to and supports the client.

The client allows their body and brain to process the stress, trauma, anxiety, or other emotional challenges they have been holding on to.  

Not only is the client able to release painful feelings, but those disturbing feelings are replaced in the brain by more resolved, peaceful feelings.


What Does That Mean?

Brainspotting was born out of EMDR.  Dr. David Grand is an EMDR practitioner and trainer working with thousands of people.

  Dr. Grand discovered this method as he was doing EMDR with a client and he followed his instinct to stay in a place where his client began doing a lot of reprocessing as he hit the spot.

After the session, Dr. Grand received a call from the client reporting the issue they had been working on in therapy had resolved itself.

For more information on Dr. Grand click here 


How Does Looking at a Spot Process Trauma?

It sounds way too easy that just looking at a spot can help with trauma.  I get it and I felt that way, too, until I did it.  Five years ago I heard about brainspotting from a colleague.

It was intriguing and I had been using EMDR for years.   Once she explained the concepts, I started watching my clients even closer as we did EMDR.

I started to pick up on the non-verbal tells that I had hit a brainspot.


How Does It Work?

Brainspotting is believed to work by accessing the brain-body connection, allowing for the processing and resolution of trauma and emotional distress on a neurological level.

By targeting specific areas of the brain associated with trauma or emotional memories, brainspotting aims to facilitate healing and promote emotional well-being.  

Using specific techniques like specifically designed music and eye positions, the client is able to go subcortical to this deeper part of the brain.

The technique involves the therapist guiding the client’s attention to specific eye positions, or “brainspots,” that correspond to areas of stored emotional experiences or trauma within the brain.

These spots are identified through the client’s subjective experience, as well as through observation of physiological responses such as eye twitches, changes in breathing, or subtle body shifts.

During a brainspotting session, the therapist assists the client in maintaining focus on the identified brainspot while allowing whatever thoughts, emotions, or sensations arise to be processed

without judgment.

This process facilitates accessing and releasing stored emotional material, allowing the client to make sense of their experiences and integrate them more effectively.


According to Dr. Grand,

“Brainspotting is a powerful, focused treatment method that works by identifying, processing and releasing core neurophysiological sources of emotional/body pain, trauma, dissociation

and a variety of other challenging symptoms.   Brainspotting is a simultaneous form of diagnosis and treatment, enhanced with Bilateral sound,

which is deep, direct, and powerful yet focused and containing.”


What Can I Expect in a Brainspotting Session?

Everyone has different experiences as they reprocess memories.  

For me, I noticed my hands shaking, a trembling feeling in my body, and my teeth chattering.  

In another session, I felt my heart letting go of fear and opening up like I was the Grinch on Christmas morning, not the beginning of the story Grinch.

 Other clients notice their eyes flickering, body temperature changes, coughing, and changes in breathing.  

One person I worked with had a beautiful experience of stepping into herself and doing a ceremony with her Goddess.  

The important thing is to trust that your body and brain know what they need to do to heal, and we make space for that.  

Can I Do This At Home For Myself?

This sounds so easy, so can I do this for myself at home?

We naturally do a form of brainspotting when we are thinking about issues or trying to sort through our problems.  

I’m a trauma therapist with years of working with clients and using various modalities but I still go to therapy.  

There is something about being attuned with another person and having permission to choose yourself,

care for yourself, let go that is powerful.  

My therapist is able to see my blindspots, my defense mechanisms, and avoidance.  

She helps me to notice these things and have curiosity about the function.  

These are the moments where I make my breakthroughs.  


Brainspotting A Somatic Therapy vs. Talk Therapy 

First, I think there is room for Brainspotting and Talk Therapy.   One of my favorite modalities of therapy is Gabor Maté Compassionate Inquiry.

Compassionate Inquiry has us notice what comes up in our bodies as we think about the issue we want to work on.  

The magic happens by making space for the body to process and to become aware of the emotions and perceptions we developed because of the trauma experience.  

I also love Internal Family Systems and know how powerful that modality can be.  

The beautiful thing is that you can weave the modalities together in therapy and a trauma informed therapist can guide that work.


But what if I don’t have a memory for how I’m feeling?  What if the trauma happened when I was preverbal and I don’t have language for it?  

What if I  don’t want to talk about it?


Brainspotting is a beautiful modality to use with all clients, but especially for trauma, early childhood attachment, and abuse issues.  

With Brainspotting, just as in EMDR, you say as little as you want or need to.  

This modality works well for clients who don’t remember their childhood, the trauma event, or just can’t talk about it.  


Brainspotting Accesses Different Areas of the Brain vs. Talk Therapy

With talk therapy, clients are in the frontal lobe and so they are processing from a completely different part of the brain.  

They are in the reasoning, problem-solving, rationalizing part of the brain.  

Brainspotting accesses the subcortical areas of the brain using your eyes and bilateral sound.   It goes deep into where trauma is stored.  

Brainspotting comes at the problem from a different direction and there is room for both approaches.  


My Experience with Both Types of Therapy

From my own experience in both talk therapy and with brainspotting I feel that brainspotting was more of a somatic experience.  

The only form of talk therapy where I had a similar somatic experience was with Compassionate Inquiry.  

With brainspotting, I had waves of bodily experiences as I was reprocessing.  

At the end of the session I noticed a different feeling in my body and my mind.   During one session, I came in with a headache, and noticed that as I reprocessed my headache was going away.  

I have been working on my traumas for years and was surprised what came up in my body both with Compassionate Inquiry and Brainspotting after I thought I had worked through my issues.

It is still a work in progress and I am passionate about trauma therapy because I’ve been on both sides of the couch.  

For me, Brainspotting felt like it accomplished a lot in a short time.


We Need Connection To Heal

There are clients who want and need to talk about what happened, because no one believed them, they never could tell anyone what happened,

and they need to feel connection with another being as they unload their pain.   This makes sense and can be extremely healing.  

However, for some, talking about it is overwhelming and it is as if it is happening all over again.  

Trying to get help feels so frightening and clients start to believe there is no help for them.   They feel that therapy makes it worse, not better.  

This is where Brainspotting can be so powerful and why working with a therapist is the way to do it.

I did an exercise with a client this week where I spoke to them their needs out loud.  

Hearing someone saying your needs, feeling seen and heard, when that is what you needed but didn’t get is so healing.  

There is also the benefit of working with someone who is trauma trained who can notice when you dissociate and need to be eased back into the present.  

Brainspotting takes you subcortical, into the limbic system,

and working with a therapist can help you regulate your experience during and after your processing is complete.  

Why Work with a Brainspotting Somatic Therapist in San Diego?

Trauma informed therapists help their clients to build resources so they feel safe to process their trauma.  

If a client dissociates a therapist can recognize this and help the client get back into themselves.

Therapists help their client regulate at the end of the session so the client functions well during the remainder of their day. 

A big part of therapy is providing tools clients use outside of session to support healing.  

Licensed professionals help pace sessions so the client isn’t overwhelmed and dysregulated.  

There is a saying that “We go slow to go fast.”  


How I Can Help with Brainspotting Somatic Therapy

Hi.  My name is Shay and I am a trauma therapist.  

I’ve experienced trauma and have loved ones who have struggled with mental health challenges.  

For me, trauma held me back from feeling safe and feeling good about myself.  Fear held me back from believing I could have the life I wanted.  

That is why I am so passionate about finding ways to help my clients.

I customize therapy to meet your individual needs, because each trauma is personal.

I know talking about the worst things that happened in your life isn’t fun.  

Most people just shove it in a closet and try to move on in life.  

Unfortunately, those things spill out and force us to deal with the mess.

Brainspotting is an extremely helpful modality and some of my clients say it feels “magical” how quickly things shift.  I agree!  

Brainspotting is a game changer.  

It isn’t easy to face your fears and sit with it. Living with the fear and holding the trauma also isn’t easy.  I hated being stuck in the pain.  

If you are ready to get unstuck, I am ready to help.  

Whether it is Brainspotting, EMDR, Compassionate Inquiry, Somatic Therapy, IFS, or another trauma informed modality;

 healing is possible.

You don’t always have to feel this way.   You deserve to be happy and I am here to help.  

 Email or use the button above to book a consultation or session.  

Check out my Brainspotting page on my website.