Review of ‘Brainspotting. The revolutionary new therapy for rapid and effective change’ by Dr David Grand, published by  Sounds True, Boulder CO 80306, 2013,  ISBN 978-1-60407-943-2, by John Kapp  29.1.20

The problem with most talking therapies is that they tend to take months or years of sessions for relief or change to occur. Brainspotting is one of the increasing number of what are known as brain-based therapies, which are treatments that use mindfulness to go beyond the mind to gain direct access to the brain. It harnesses the brain’s natural ability for self scanning, so we can activate, locate and process the sources of trauma and distress in the body, accelerating our ability to heal and cure any mental problems.

The motto of Brainspotting is ‘where you look affects how you feel.’ The eyes are the window to the soul. Trauma can overwhelm the brain’s processing capacity, leaving behind pieces of the trauma, frozen in an unprocessed state. Brainspotting uses our field of vision to find where we are holding these traumas.  Just as the eyes naturally scan the outside environment for information, they can be used to scan the inside environment – our brains- for information.

Brainspotting uses the visual field to turn the ‘scanner’ back on itself and guide the brain to find lost internal information. By keeping the gaze focussed on a specific external spot, we maintain the brain’s focus on the specific internal spot where trauma is stored, in order to promote the deep processing that leads to the trauma’s release and resolution.  There are no problems except those that we make into problems, but the mind can make a problem out of anything.   We can be conditioned (brainwashed) to believe almost anything.

Brainspotting is built on a ‘dual attunement’ model, where the therapist simultaneously attunes to the client (meaning the relationship between themselves and the client, and mirrors and reveals the client’s experience with the primary caregivers in their childhood, especially their mother) and the client’s brain processes.

The left side of the brain controls the right side of our body, and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. Our left brain thinks, uses language and solves problems. Our right brain is intuitive, emotional and involved in body functions. When we are overwhelmed with emotion and can’t think straight, our right brain has taken over. When we are overly analytical and cut off from our emotions, we are stuck in our left brain.  (Men tend to be left-brained half wits, (cold, aloof, unfeeling) and women tend to be right-brained half wits, (hysterical, weepy,  can’t keep themselves together) Brainspotting helps balance the left and right sides, so that integrate and self-regulate.

Brainspotting developed from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in which the client is asked to focus their attention on a disturbing issue, and  measure the intensity of pain or emotional distress on the 0-10 ‘Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale’ (SUDS)  Thinking about painful subjects is counter-intuitive, and we normally avoid doing this, but the therapist holds the space for the client to maintain this focus, with the object of allowing the brain to process it from implicit to explicit memory, when the SUDS level decreases. When this is reported as 0, the issue is no longer distressing, and we may then ‘squeeze the lemon’, by provoking the client to think again about the issue, to check the activation, and see whether it is really healed, until the client reports that they are cured.

The most impressive statistic about Brainspotting is an evaluation dated 2016 of the 20 trauma therapies given to those affected by the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut USA in 2012. Brainspotting was voted the most effective intervention, and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) was almost the least effective. www.brainspotting.org. I believe that Brainspotting would help those traumatised by disasters (like the Grenfell tower fire in June 2017, who received little or no psychological support).  I believe that it  deserves to be clinically trialled, so that it could be recommended by NICE for use in the NHS, and I am willing to help organise a trial.

I first heard about Brainspotting when I attended a taster session in June 2018. I was intrigued sufficiently to do part 1 of the training (3 days in Nov 2018) and went on to complete part 2 in Feb and part 3 in April 2019, totalling 9 days over 6 months. As client during that time,  I experienced 14 brainspotting sessions of up to 1 hour each, which were all different, and all successful in clearing up 14 different issues.  I have  used the technique on 10 clients to date, and all reported satisfactory outcomes, I offer it every week on Sundays from 10-1pm at Essence, 86, Church Rd Hove BN3 2EB (opposite Hove town hall) as drop in classes with facilitator training for donations. Every Sunday afternoon, 2-5, I offer family constellation group therapy on the same basis. I also run the CAmpaign for Social Prescribing Of Talking Therapies (CASPOTT) see www.caspott.org.uk and www.sectco.org.uk, and papers on section 9 of www.reginalldkapp.org. I can be contacted on johnkapp@btinternet.com, and 01273 417997.

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