Any event that has had a lasting negative effect on the self or psyche is by its very nature â€śtraumaticâ€ť. Events that happen to us when we are in our younger years and throughout our life shape and mold us, for better or worse. Some of us can chose to use those situations as life lessons and move on, never letting it affect us again.
Others may not be able to do that. It just stays with you, tucked away until it is triggered, affecting you over and over again; sometimes even years apart. We canâ€™t seem to escape it; no matter how hard we try.
Trauma is stored in the subcortex of the brain and in your nervous system and is not accessible when utilizing talk therapy. Talk therapy can be very beneficial for discovering patterns of behaviors, changing cognitions, making connections between past and present behaviors, and verbally unloading everyday stressors; however, research shows you need a brain-based therapy that goes far beyond the mind and into the brain to heal trauma.
Brainspotting vs EMDR
Both Brainspotting and EMDR go beneath the neocortex and target the trauma where it lies in the brain. The difference is the way it is used. BrainspottingÂ involves a focused eye position whereas Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)Â involves rapid bilateral movement of the eyes, auditory or sensory system.
EMDR is also a directed and structured eight phase protocol whereas Brainspotting is adaptable and fluid. Some clients report they appreciate the structure and routine of EMDR and others like the flexibility of Brainspotting.
Often times I use both modalities on clients depending on the circumstances. Both therapeutic approaches will be discussed at length and it will be a collaborative effort in deciding which one is right for you.
Regardless of which modality we choose, before you begin any treatment for trauma you will want to consider the following questions:
Do you want to change?
Honestly, you should ask yourself this question before you begin any type of therapy. If you are happy with the way things are, even if it dysfunctional, then trauma therapy would not be for you. If you arenâ€™t happy with the way things are, but because it has been your norm for so long, anything else feels foreign and scary, then it may not be the right time.
If you are unhappy with the way things are and want to make long-term changes, your therapist can provide you insight into the treatment and answer any of your questions.
Are you prepared to work hard?
Often times it is said therapy makes things worse before it gets better. How could it be otherwise? You have to talk about very uncomfortable things; things you may have been very good at stuffing or avoiding for some time. Although EMDR and Brainspotting can be a fast-acting therapy, every person is different. Some people have experience relief in as few as two sessions, and some take far longer. There is not set timeline for treatment.
Do you have adequate coping skills?
Although coping skills is built into your treatment plan, it is always good to have some of your own to use in addition. Your brain may continue to process information between sessions. â€śProcessingâ€ť may come in the form of dreams, random thoughts or memories coming to mind or bodily sensations. You want to be able to cope with that material, which for some may be intrusive.
Do you have adequate support?
What does your support system look like? This could be in the form of family and/or friends who can nurture you through the process as needed.
Are you emotionally stable?
That may seem like a weird question. I mean that is why some people seek out therapy, to better handle their emotions. For some, you may need to spend some time with your therapist working to resolve other issues so you can get to a healthy baseline before venturing into your stored trauma. You donâ€™t have to be a master of your emotions however, being able to name your feelings and adequately cope with them prior to starting a brain-based treatment is highly recommended.