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EMDR and Brainspotting

What is EMDR?
From the EMDR International Association:
“Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.”

Currently, EMDR is endorsed by the World Health Organization for the treatment of trauma.   Additionally, it is also used extensively for a variety of other issues including anxiety, fears and phobias, physical pain, loss, addictions, and low self-esteem. It is a neurobiological therapy that utilizes stimulation of both sides of the brain to help us heal and reprocess emotional pain.

The research supporting EMDR is very compelling and supports its effectiveness. As a therapist, I have loved using EMDR in my office. I can often see the shift occur before my eyes. Someone may come in feeling like they are constantly re-experiencing the trauma or negative thought and after EMDR has been completed, they feel a new sense of vitality, like a weight has been lifted and are no longer carrying their unwanted load. In many ways, EMDR is like a full body healing, allowing you to release the trauma from your body and let go of the negative burden of associations.

Even infants have benefitted from EMDR following their traumatic birth, NICU experience, separation from a parent, in preparation for a complex medical procedure or following a complex medical procedure.

To illustrate how EMDR works, you can watch the clip below:

EMDR Image - med.jpg

What is Brainspotting?

David Grand, the founder of Brainspotting, found that different points evoke different emotions, “so where you look affects how you feel”. If you look in one spot, you might feel calm and if you look in another spot, you might feel more anxious. We actually do this all the time. You might notice that if you’re in the shower thinking about something and you eyes remain in one position – maybe upwards and to the side – and you’re just processing something on your mind. Or, you’re talking to someone, describing an experience, and again your eyes are focused in one direction.

With Brainspotting, the therapist helps you identify a spot to look at that evokes a particular emotional perspective. You start out looking at that spot while listening to music that stimulates both sides of your brain, and your brain does its job – processes the issue at hand. The music tends to help people feel more contained and combined with the emotional engagement of the therapist, allows you to release the stress from your body.

I have found Brainspotting to be particularly effective for dealing with physical pain that has an emotional component as well as for dealing with stress, anxiety, and trauma.


Testimonial: “I found the Brainspotting session enormously helpful after a trauma I witnessed. I have no idea how it worked, but all I know if that afterwards I was calm and settled and no longer affected by the particular trauma” (anonymous and posted with permission)

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