What Is It?
Brainspotting and EMDR – (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
These are some of best- in my experience – well studied, proven methods available for healing trauma today. They are safe with no side effects, are excellent for releasing trauma, permanent, non invasive, do not require the use of medication and do not re-traumatize the participant.
You, the client, control the entire process-from the level of your subconscious. I, the therapist follow your lead.
How Does It Work?
Brainspotting and EMDR directly access the subconscious parts of the brain and the roots of your trauma.
They neutralize the ‘triggers’ which cause symptoms associated with the original trauma.
Neural networks are the branching neural systems of the brain that automatically fire to create and coordinate thoughts, feelings, activity, reactivity etc. These therapies work by rerouting the reactive firings of neural networks from the imprinted or habitual trauma response, to a new, neutralized neural pathway.
or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, results when a certain, specific trauma based reaction is imprinted in the brains neural pathways from what was perceived to be a life threatening situation. Being ‘triggered’ happens when we are in someway reminded of a trauma we experienced in the past and react as if it is happening in present time. We may experience the symptoms of the old trauma: fight, flight or freeze. Triggers could be anything that remind one of the original trauma such as smells, sounds, objects, places, even people or situations associated with the original trauma, thus causing the body to react as if the original trauma is currently happening.
These ‘triggers’ set off the subtle, habitual, imprinted trauma firing networks in the brain that create flashbacks with associated anxiety, panic, racing heartbeat and pulse, etc. The hallmark of PTSD is that we respond inappropriately, as if we are in mortal danger in the present when in actuality, the threat is long past.
Brainpotting and EMDR, when successful, completely neutralize these triggers.
How Long Does it Take?
Some clients, especially children, can clear these triggers/trauma very quickly. Others with more complex trauma histories may take weeks or months of reprocessing to complete the healing. Each session and treatment plan is as individual as each client and their needs.
What does the Actual Process Look Like?
During the Brainspotting/EMDR process, the client is taught self regulation skills involving the breath, focus, body awareness. These are developed over time as the client practices them. The client learns to calm their body, nervous system and mind, and to activate the para-sympathetic nervous system, bringing the client into a deep peaceful state from which to access the subconscious and process the layers of trauma. In this state, it is not difficult to access the memories, beliefs and the source of the triggers and the traumatic injury. These are the pieces of information that are linked together in the neural networks and are the source of the habitual reactivity of the client.
directs the healing process by bringing up the memories, sensations, feelings and beliefs that are directly relevant to the healing process, at a pace the client is ready for and able to manage. Slowly, neural networks (fears, thoughts, beliefs) that were created during the original trauma as attempts to ‘survive’ the original trauma. Associated thoughts, memories, sensations surface during this calm, lucid state and are gently brought up to the conscious mind to be reprocessed and neutralized.
Relevant memories, sensations, thoughts or beliefs that are contributing to the ‘triggering’ patterns naturally surface as they are ready to be released. These may be anything from a long entrenched negative beliefs such as “I will never be good enough” or “Im a failure” etc, to a specific traumatic memories that inhibit normal functioning.
Once the trauma based beliefs, memories and or experiences are identified, they become conscious. We may then consciously reroute the the response network to a more positive one.
We actually neutralize and replace these negative response networks with new, positive neural networks/beliefs/thoughts. This is all done by you, the client, being coached by the therapist, to use your breath, awareness and somatic experience for release!
Overall, Brainspotting and EMDR are fascinating, enjoyable, educational and profound processes for those who are ready to find deep healing and resolution from PTSD and trauma.