Updated: Nov 20
I think we can all agree that anxiety is not a great feeling and that when it is chronic, it can color our daily experiences and disrupt our sense of ease and joy in so many aspects of life. The good news is that there are many therapeutic approaches available to address anxiety. Brainspotting therapy is one type that can be incredibly effective. Let’s talk about anxiety and how Brainspotting for anxiety can help from us here at The Holding Space!
An Introduction to Brainspotting
Brainspotting was discovered by Dr. David Grand who was an early practitioner of the trauma therapy EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and reprocessing) but felt there might be a faster and less manualized way to help the brain reprocess painful or frightening experiences. He was encouraged by how effective Brainspotting seemed to be at helping people process past trauma via staring at a spot that stimulated the areas of the brain that respond to traumatic events. Our brains are set up to protect us from thinking about traumatic experiences. They do this by exiling those events out of our conscious minds so that we can function in our day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, trauma is able to slip through the cracks and often shows up in our lives as anxiety or depression.
In other words, our conscious mind may not be thinking about past trauma. But looks for reasons for the anxiety or depression we are feeling in the moment. So it might say, "Hey, social situations are super scary” or “ Man, I really hate elevators”, or “Be careful with this new person, they might hurt you.” Often the fear we are conscious of is a smokescreen for traumatic experiences in our early childhood or an event that our brain has worked hard to erase.
Brainspotting's Efficient Approach
Brainspotting is similar to EMDR in that it uses eye positioning to find the “spot” that is related to the underlying feelings and sensations in the body, but, it is less time-consuming and works well with uncomfortable emotions that are not always related to a specific traumatic event. For example, when we have anxiety it is often a “free-floating” experience that can show up as pain in our body or might just be running underneath the surface of our lives like a motor or light that is always on.
Staring at Healing: How Brainspotting for Anxiety Works
When Brainspotting is utilized to calm anxiety, a brainspotting therapist will ask the client to notice the feeling of “activation” in their body. They might suggest recalling an event that brought up more anxiety than usual and to notice where in their body the activation comes from. Generally, anxiety is felt in the stomach or the chest. The therapist then asks the client to rate the activation on a scale from 0-10. This helps the therapist to understand if the brain-spotting is effectively bringing the activation down.
The brainspotting therapist will then help the client to find a brain spot that stimulates the feeling of anxiety. The therapist will have them concentrate on staring at the spot, usually using a pointer or noticing where the client is looking as they talk about their anxiety. Then they will guide the client to silently look at the spot and begin to notice what comes up. What happens next is that the brain begins to “process” memories, emotions, and physical sensations that don’t always make sense to our “thinking” brain. You could imagine it like pictures flashing by or suddenly thinking of something you had completely forgotten from years earlier. Sometimes a memory from that day that had seemed minor, comes up to be processed.
The Brainspotting Therapist's Role
Sometimes the anxiety might get spiked as these memories or sensations pass by, but often, even in the first session, a feeling of calm can begin to show up. The brainspotting therapist will be listening intently to what the client is talking about and will be there to help make sense of or ground the client if there are big feelings associated with memories that arise. They will also check in throughout the session and ask what “number” the client is feeling on a scale of 0-10. The hope would be to land on a zero by the end of session, but depending on the level of activation, it may take several sessions to achieve more lasting calm.
Anxiety is Complex
Anxiety is complex and it may take consistent Brainspotting sessions to feel the difference and sometimes, in the beginning, it may be a subtle change. Some people notice less tension in their body, some may notice that they didn’t think as much about a situation that is usually anxiety provoking, and some people may find they are able to talk to themselves and ground themselves more effectively than in the past when anxiety ruled the day.
Start Brainspotting for Anxiety in Los Angeles, CA today!
The great thing about utilizing Brainspotting for anxiety with one of the therapists at The Holding Space, is that it can easily be brought into regular therapy and revisited when needed. If you are curious about how Brainspotting therapy in Los Angeles, CA might work for you, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our brainspotting therapists can better understand your specific needs and answer any questions, follow the steps below to begin:
Contact us for a free 15-minute consultation.
Speak with a compassionate brainspotting therapist.
Start living a life free from anxiety.
Other Therapy Services Offered at The Holding Space Center in Los Angeles, CA
At the Holding Space, Brainspotting is just one of the modalities we utilize to help clients realize the lasting change they are seeking. We provide many other forms of therapy in Los Angeles, CA to help people work through their mental health needs. We also specialize in other therapy services including Anxiety treatment, Depression treatment, Relational therapy, Sex and Intimacy therapy, LGBTQ+ Affirmative therapy, Art Therapy, and Therapy for Addiction. Contact us today to learn more about our Los Angeles-based practice and take the first step to free yourself from anxiety and living a happier life.