I’ve been incorporating Brainspotting into my therapy sessions for almost 5 months now, and I wanted to share with you some thoughts on what my clients experience with this new type of therapy. I wrote the blog An Introduction to Brainspotting which gives a brief overview, but I also wanted to talk more about the benefits I’ve seen my clients experience. This type of therapy can be used in addition to regular talk therapy. Some clients had one Brainspotting session, and then we go back to talk therapy to discuss things that came up in the Brainspotting session. Others have done several Brainspotting sessions with talk therapy mixed in. How we use this mode of therapy is up to the client.
I specialize in anxiety, and so most of my clients deal with some sort of worry or nervousness. Some have phobias (fears), OCD, or general anxiety that is present all the time and causes them to overthink. My clients have developed ways to deal with their worry-usually avoidance is pretty high on the list. Avoiding the thing that makes you anxious is a brilliant idea…..then you don’t have to feel the worry! But, then you aren’t actually addressing or overcoming the real issue. Using Brainspotting allows clients to face their fear or worry in a safe space. There is no more avoiding the issue; instead you are focused on the very thing you fear. Sort of like exposure response prevention….rather than running away from the anxiety, we are confronting it together.
What types of issues can Brainspotting help with?
Most of my sessions have been related to anxiety, but I’ve found that nothing is off limits as far as Brainspotting. This modality can be used to work on just about any issue! In my previous blog post , I generally stated Brainspotting can be used to address trauma, creativity blocks, or negative emotions. In my own sessions over these last few months, some of the types of issues I’ve addressed with clients through Brainspotting include:
Need for approval
Loss of a relationship and loss of a loved one
Feelings of inadequacy
Fear of loss
As you can see, I love how the issues that can be addressed with Brainspotting are so varied!
And, whether you are thinking of a real or imagined issue, your brain perceives it the same way. In Brainspotting, you don’t have to say anything- you can just think about the issue or remember it. So, for some issues that are hard to talk about, or you’ve resisted talking about, Brainspotting is a great option because you don’t have to talk in order to make progress on that problem. It allows your brain the opportunity to heal on it’s own.
How do I know if Brainspotting worked?
This is a question that often comes up at the end of the first Brainspotting session with a client. Well, I say, it worked because you did it! Most issues won’t be resolved with just one Brainspotting session, just like most issues aren’t resolved with just one talk therapy session. What I have noticed though is clients tend to experience any of the following after a Brainspotting session:
Increased awareness into themselves
Increased awareness of when/how they are holding tension in their body
Some movement or progress on an issue after they had been stuck
Reduced distress related to the issue when confronted with it again
Resolution of the issue
How clients respond to a Brainspotting session is of course individualized. Each issue is different, and how they respond is different. After a Brainspotting session, some clients feel completely calm and relaxed, others feel tired and say they are going home to take a nap. Others report not feeling any different, but find themselves thinking about things over the next day or two. Others say they were more irritable or moody or on edge for a few days. Some have dreams related to the issue we worked on.
With permission, I’d like share some of my clients’ stories. Please keep in mind that these are their specific experiences and this is not to be taken as a guarantee of outcomes. One client was dealing with a constant need for approval while going through job interviews. This client was feeling a lot of anxiety due to the need for approval, overthinking the interviewing process. This questioning of why the phone wasn’t ringing led to self-doubt. After the first Brainspotting session, the client reflected “That was amazing. I feel so calm. I had no idea I could feel this way.” In our subsequent sessions, this client reported that the need for approval was gone, and in interviews that worry was replaced with confidence. This client feels this issue is resolved. We then did a second Brainspotting session on self-sabotage, which then lead to further conversations on how this client has used negativity in the past as a way to keep others at a distance.
Another client wanted to use Brainspotting to address difficulty sticking to a financial budget. At the end of the first Brainspotting session, the client identified it wasn’t just a budget that they found themselves resisting, but anything that had to do with “adulthood” such as relationships. This led to further discussions in sessions about vulnerability, fear of rejection, and self-acceptance, and additional Brainspotting sessions on these topics.
Another client focused a Brainspotting session on their view of failure, perceiving failures at work that led to a spiral of depressive thoughts, self-doubt and suicidal thoughts. After two Brainspotting sessions, this client reported a lapse of suicidal thoughts for several days, more optimism, and feeling more balanced in their thought process.
These are just a few examples of the awareness and gains that I’ve seen clients have following Brainspotting sessions.
After almost 11 years offering outpatient therapy, it’s great to be able to offer my clients a different way to address their issues in addition to traditional talk therapy. And, the insight, increased awareness, and movement on the issues they are working on is amazing!
I hope this gives a little more information for you on this awesome type of therapy. Please contact me with questions or to schedule an intake for Brainspotting!