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What is Brainspotting

A recent Study from The University of Michigan highlighted that 44% of college students experience depression while 37% experienced anxiety. The most prolific report being that 66% of college students experience a diagnosable reaction to trauma. The National Counsil of Mental Wellbeing recently reported on average a client waits roughly six week to be seen by a professional counselor creating a significant in issue for college students that are experiencing mental health concerns that manifest during the college experience.

At HopeNation Campus we pride ourselves in being able to see a referred and accepted student within 48 hours. 

What is Brainspotting:

“Brainspotting is based on the profound attunements of the therapist with the patient, finding a somatic cue” Robert Scaer, MD and author of The Trauma Spectrum describes the profound impact and advancement of this therapeutic technique in regard to healing trauma. Scaer expresses the importance of the Client and Therapist working in unison together using the physical symptoms of trauma to lead the session. Brainspotting identifies specific spots in the visual field that correlate with where the client is holding unprocessed trauma in their subcortical brain. When our brain is “frozen” we become unable to move forward and process the traumatic event, which prohibits healing.

A more technical definition can be pulled from David Graham Ph.D and Founder of Brainspotting, Brainspotting is a powerful and focused treatment method that works by identifying, processing and releasing core neurophysiological sources.  Brainspotting is based on the premise that eye positions and the field of vision can be used to locate and access traumatic or emotionally charged memories, allowing them to be processed and resolved. Brainspotting utilizes enhanced Bilateral sound. This sound is deep, direct, and powerful, yet focused and containing.

The History of Somatic Based work with Trauma

Somatic Based Therapy is utilizing the body to lead the session. Somatic based interventions allow the symptoms the body experiences to take precedent in treatment verses verbal processing. Somatic Based therapy has been practiced since the early 1970’s. Talk therapy (for example: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) focuses on cognitive processing first. It was, and still is, an effective treatment for clients who are experiencing chronic pain, which is linked to an underlying mental health diagnosis specifically related to Trauma. Brainspotting is a form of Somatic Based therapy that continues to utilize bottom –up processing instead of your top-down approach. In other words, bodily senses lead the therapeutic session and then cognitive processing follows. 

How Brainspotting is an effective intervention for College Students

Brainspotting has been a primary therapeutic intervention for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is under the Trauma umbrella. Trauma symptoms include, but are not limited to, anxiety, anger, chronic fatigue, impossibility, performance issues and attention.  Symptoms have shown to drastically improve when utilizing Somatic Based Approaches, specifically Brainspotting. 

HopeNation has utilized Brainspotting as a primary intervention as a result of its effectiveness within just a few sessions. There have been numerous studies and reports that demonstrate the client’s overall traumatic symptoms reduce significantly after the first session.  There have been recent studies that demonstrated each client had, on average, four to six sessions before they were discharged successfully from treatment.

The effectiveness  – along with the efficiency of treatment – is the primary reason college students benefit from this modality. The American Psychological Association recently reported that, on average, clients with Trauma engage in twenty to thirty sessions of talk therapy over the course of six months with less overall effectiveness than Brainspotting. 

  1. Grand, D. (2013). Brainspotting: the revolutionary new therapy for rapid and effective change. Boulder, CO: Sounds True, Inc.
  2. Rigley, C. (2009, March 25). Eye see you Brainspotting: a cure-all for psychological trauma or parlor trick? New Times23(34). Retrieved from http://www.newtimesslo.com/news/2253/eye-see-you
  3. Terrell, D. (2009). What is Brainspotting? How does it compare to EMDR therapy?. In San Diego Trauma Therapy. Retrieved from http://www.sandiegotraumatherapy.com/emdr-articles/terrell-brain-spotting.htm
  4. American COunselign Association- https://www.counseling.org/
  5. University of Michigan, School of Public Health- https://sph.umich.edu/news/2023posts/college-students-anxiety-depression-higher-than-ever-but-so-are-efforts-to-receive-care.html
Written By:
Casey Merrill, LPC-MHSP, NBCC; Executive Clinical Director
Casey Merrill

Casey Merrill

LPC-MHSP

Christal Pennic

Christal Pennic

LPC-MHSP