Brainspotting in Addiction Treatment
Addiction does not develop in a vacuum. Researchers and therapists agree that unresolved trauma is one of the root causes of most substance use disorders. Unprocessed trauma can put someone at a higher risk of developing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, which tend to accompany substance abuse and addiction. One of the most contemporary treatment approaches to dealing with trauma is Brainspotting.
If you feel at a standstill with your progress in other addiction treatment therapies, Brainspotting can help you dig a bit deeper. It can also help you find other underlying issues you and your therapists had never confronted.
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What is Brainspotting? +
Brainspotting is a brain-based psychotherapy technique that leverages the field of vision to figure out where an individual is holding, not only trauma but all other negative life experiences in their brain. As such, Brainspotting has proven effective in unpacking deep traumas linked to the root of substance abuse and addiction.
Brainspotting Processing, or BSP, locates points in the client’s visual field that help to access unprocessed trauma in the subcortical brain. Brainspotting was discovered in 2003 by David Grand, Ph.D. Dr. Grand discovered that “Where you look affects how you feel.” The brain activity, especially in the subcortical brain, organizes itself around that eye position. A Brain spot is seen as a physiological capsule holding dissociated emotional experiences in memory form.
Brainspotting is effective for a wide variety of emotional and somatic conditions. It is particularly effective with trauma-based issues, helping to identify and heal underlying trauma that contributes to:
- Substance abuse
- Major depressive disorders
- Other behavioral conditions
It can also be used for performance and creativity enhancement. Brainspotting gives the therapist access to both brain and body processes.
How Does Brainspotting Work? +
Brainspotting works on the premise of the theory that feelings from trauma can become “stuck” in the body, leading to physical and mental ailments. It is believed that the brain’s memory of a particular trauma is “reset” in the body and brain through Brainspotting.
About 60% of our brain function goes into processing visual stimuli. The brain’s pathways of pleasure, reward, and habitual behavior are all connected to addiction. Therefore, the deep connection between vision and habitual behavior has been critical in developing effective psychological treatment programs for addiction. Brainspotting utilizes the relationship between behavior, emotions, and sight.
The brainspot acts like a doorway into all the stored “stuck” baggage from the past. The focused eye position allows the brain to stop scanning externally for threats and instead internally self-scan to identify and maintain its presence on unresolved issues. Its goal is to bypass the conscious, neocortical thinking to access the brain’s deeper, subcortical emotional and body-based parts.
What can I expect in a Brainspotting session? +
- The therapist will build rapport with you before doing Brainspotting.
- The therapist may use relaxation techniques or guided imagery.
- You will be asked to talk about something that’s upsetting you.
- The therapist will ask you to “find” the feelings in your body.
- The therapist may use a pointer or pencil to help you find your brainspot.
- You will be asked to hold your eyes at this spot and focus inward.
- You will be encouraged to accept, allow, and observe what comes up.
- You will be encouraged to let your body process the trauma.
- The therapist will help you process the thoughts and feelings that come up.
- You and the therapist will discuss further treatment (if needed).
Since Brainspotting therapy usually only involves 1-3 sessions, many Brainspotting therapists end sessions by discussing the next steps. In some instances, treatment will stop after Brainspotting; in others, it may continue with the same therapist or a different therapist.
Benefits of Brainspotting +
Brainspotting can help you process traumatic experiences without having to talk about them. This is true because this form of therapy circumvents the conscious and thinking part of your brain that normally interferes with access to emotional parts.
The primary objective of Brainspotting therapy is to bring awareness to your inner experience. Therefore, it becomes easier for you to regulate your emotions, retain emotional reactions, and release traumatic experiences that are not accessible to the conscious mind. Additionally, Brainspotting is also more effective than talk therapy.
People affected by trauma and addiction may gain significant recovery benefits from Brainspotting. Apart from PTSD, other diagnosable trauma-related conditions include:
- Adjustment disorder
- Acute stress disorder (ASD)
Unspecified trauma disorder is another common trauma-related condition that Brainspotting can help fix. Although unspecified trauma disorders do not meet the criteria for ASD, adjustment disorder, and PTSD, they can significantly affect your ability to function or perform.
Even without a diagnosable disorder, unresolved trauma can hinder your recovery from addiction. Brainspotting can help overcome this obstacle.
Brainspotting for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Near You +
Brainspotting might sound like science fiction, but how it works for addiction treatment is simple. The human brain is capable of self-scanning and healing itself. This is largely because your biology is inherently motivated to relieve emotional and physical discomfort.
Research shows a strong correlation between how we look and how we feel. The position of your eyes is connected to specific parts of the brain, which can help elicit strong emotional responses. Since emotions and traumatic experiences contribute to substance abuse and addiction, Brainspotting is effective for long-term alcoholism and substance addiction treatment.
It offers a window for unconscious reflexes, enabling the identification and awareness of unconscious and automatic responses driving alcohol and drug abuse and addiction.
DreamLife Recovery, located near Pittsburg, PA, uses Brainspotting to help treat addiction and other underlying issues that might be contributing to your addiction to alcohol and drugs. If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction and trauma-related disorders, contact us at (855) 384-5808 to get the professional attention you deserve.
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