There is no greater satisfaction in my work than to witness my clients reclaim their life force, their grit, and their willingness to reengage with the world in a new empowered way. It is a profound experience to sit, often in silence while in total limbic attunement, with someone who is willing to move through the temporary discomfort and pain, which past traumas have left behind. To be entrusted to accompany another fellow human being towards the full resolution of what once held him or her back, so that he or she can thrive and dare greatly is the most humbling, and heartfelt honor of my life.
It is with great excitement that I am including a new powerful modality to my healing toolbox, Brainspotting. Brainspotting is an offspring of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing). Like EMDR, Brainspotting allows us to consciously access the deeper layers of the brain where implicit, and often forgotten memories, emotions and body sensations, reside. The parts of our brain that keep us doing, feeling and believing things we know better are not true (anymore), are not serving us (anymore), and keep us stuck.
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The part of our brain that often prevents us from actualizing our true potential and become who we are met to be; most often against our best judgment and understanding. David Grand, discovered Brainspotting in 2003 as he was working with an ice skater that could not, no matter what, master her triple loop. She could do much harder ice-skating acrobatics, but every time she would begin the sequence of a triple loop her brain would “freeze”, and she would inevitably fall. As David was doing an EMDR session with her, targeting THE moment she began her triple loop jump, and was moving his fingers in front of her eyes as is one of the many ways to conduct an EMDR session, he noticed that her eyes wobbled and froze. He instinctively stopped moving his fingers and held her gaze at that very specific point. For the next 10 minutes, a torrent of trauma material resurfaced. Even after having worked with her for a year, new memories of maternal abandonment which lead to parental divorce, as well as countless sports injuries, flowed out with intense emotion. David was bewildered that new memories emerged that had not come out in a year of intensive treatment. He was also struck that issues that had been “resolved” reemerged and processed through to a deeper level. The following day the young athlete delivered a flawless triple loop for the first time. She never, again, had a problem with it.
Afterwards, David Grand began paying greater attention to his patient’s eyes as he continued doing EMDR with them. Careful attention revealed that the deeper layers of the brain, the brainstem and limbic system, would communicate a “brainspot” through eye wobbles, freeze, blinks, facial tics, brow furrowing, sniffs, swallows, head nods, body shifting, etc. These brainspots, being Autonomic Nervous System responses, are beyond conscious awareness and control. As soon as he saw any eye reflex, he held his fingers in place directly in front of it so that his patients could maintain their gaze right at that spot. Clients reported that the processing went deeper and was more powerful. During the following years, he discovered many different ways of locating relevant eye positions in the field of vision. Brainspotting was born!
When a safe healing environment is created, and maintained by the therapist through mindful, compassionate witnessing and presence, the psyche and the body is free to release the material which once was inaccessible, and too often buried in shame and guilt. Whether we are talking about traumatic sport injuries, as was the case for the young ice skater mentioned above, or Mackey Sasser from the New York Mets whom was physically and mentally traumatized on the field when another player literally ran into him; or we are talking about the traumas caused by early childhood abuse and neglect, sexual violence, bullying or abusive relationships; or career goals one never seems to attained because one feels stuck in fear; or the grief of loosing a loved one (pets included); or social anxiety, or addiction, or the countless many other ways the subcortical layers of our brain prevent us from thriving, Brainspotting keeps on proving itself to be a very powerful modality in my healing toolbox, especially when coupled with somatic modalities like the Trauma Resiliency Model, or Voice Dialogue. Thank you David for your research, and your gift to humanity!
For more information on Brainspotting visit my webpage “How I work“
C. Nathan Bergeron, LMFT, L.Ac. ©