By: Jackie Currie, MA, LPCI, NCC
When I was a wilderness therapy field guide, I worked with a young adult who struggled every day in finding purpose and connecting with his family. I watched this student go into a Brainspotting session with his therapist and was amazed at what I witnessed. Every day thereafter of his wilderness treatment, he was wrapped in excitement about discovering who he was and his future plans, repairing the relationship with his parents, and working toward healthier attachments in general.
I have been intrigued with Brainspotting since then, and recently had the opportunity to participate in the Phase One Training with Steve Sawyer in Bend, Oregon. The training consisted of three days of lecture, discussion, demonstrations, and practicums. There were about 25 clinicians present; some had already been through a training and had been practicing Brainspotting, some were still in graduate school, and all offered vulnerability and invaluable insight.
During this training I was given the chance to participate in a Brainspotting session during one of the demonstrations. I felt nervous, scared, and wasn’t sure if I was ready to be that exposed in front of 20 other counseling professionals, one being a Dragonfly co-worker. I took the risk, and I’m so grateful that I did. Over the past two weeks since that time, I’ve experienced multiple shifts in my thoughts and perspectives and am continuing to feel pleasantly surprised when I notice a new change.
Brainspotting is a somatic-focused healing that taps into our neurobiological system. The beautiful piece about this technique is that it cannot be done without the therapist’s attunement to the client. Humans are designed for attachment and we long to be emotionally felt by others. The therapist’s role is to be fully present, in tune, following the client’s lead. David Grand, who discovered and developed Brainspotting says, “The client is like the head of a comet. The role of the therapist is to find their way into the tail of the comet and follow the head wherever it goes” (Grand, 2013, p. 59).
It’s hard to put my own Brainspotting experience into words. When people ask me what it was like, I literally have no words. I find myself saying, “Uhh…Hmm…It was cool.” We don’t need words to have experienced something, we don’t need words to be present with someone, we don’t need words to heal. As Steve humorously reminded us, “It’s just brain stuff!” To be fully present and in tune with the person sitting across from me is something I strive for in my work as a therapist, whether utilizing Brainspotting or not. I walked away from this training with more confidence, a refresher on the power of attunement, and a technique that I have personally experienced the healing effect of that I can now bring to others.
Grand, D. (2013). Brainspotting: The revolutionary new therapy for rapid and effective change. Boulder, CO: Sounds True, Inc.