Brainspotting is the revolutionary new therapy that brings about life-changing breakthroughs. With the advances in brain-based therapy, more people are seeing results that address issues that take talk-based therapy a lot of time to resolve. In this episode, Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D discusses this technique with its creator, David Grand, Ph.D. David looks at the state of psychotherapy, EMDR, and how brainspotting was developed. Learn more about this exciting technique by tuning in.
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Brainspotting: Improving Mental Health Through Therapy With David Grand, Ph.D.
Dr. David Grand is a licensed Clinical Social Worker with a PhD from International University. He is renowned for his groundbreaking discoveries and advancements in the areas of healing trauma, enhancing performance and creativity. His Brainspotting method and BioLateral Sound are now used by thousands of therapists on every continent seeking to break through the limitations of talk therapy. Dr. Grand is the author of the book Brainspotting: The Revolutionary New Therapy for Rapid and Effective Change and Emotional Healing at Warp Speed.
In addition, he is the Coauthor of This Is Your Brain on Sports. Dr. Grand’s clients include professional athletes, entertainers, business leaders, and survivors of profound trauma, including Hurricane Katrina, the 9/11 attacks, and people who have served in the Military in Iraq and Afghanistan as Combat Veterans. All of these people have sought out this powerful method as a means to realize the personal, professional and creative breakthroughs that they desire.
Dr. Grand is a sought-after lecturer, performance coach and public speaker. He has taught scene work at the New Actors Workshop and was privately coaching both stage and screen actors. He has presented seminars on his innovative methods and keynoted at numerous international therapy conferences. In addition to teaching performance and creativity seminars, he spends months every year traveling around the world, training therapists on the use of Brainspotting, and sharing his BioLateral Sound with professional groups of all kinds, including business, sports, the arts and therapy.
David, thank you so much for joining us here.
It’s my pleasure.
I was hoping you could let us know how you’ve got into the work you do and what drives your passion for it.
I’ve got my Master’s in Social Work in 1976, so we are going back a long way. Honestly, I was not clear about my path. In undergraduate, I was lost in some ways. I was more pursuing business and I took a course in Industrial Psychology. I found out I was more interested in the psychology part than the industrial part. That led me to become a Psych major.
For a variety of reasons, I wanted to become a psychotherapist because helping people is a natural thing for me but also, it was something that I felt I had a talent for, and I don’t even know why. As far as the early genesis of my career as a therapist, it’s not entirely clear but someplace deep inside, I knew that this was who I was, this is what I was good at and what I wanted to do.
If I remember from the book, somewhere along the line, you’ve got fairly good at EMDR, which is known as a technique for trauma resolution. Were you using it specifically for trauma or for therapy in general?
Doing EMDR revealed that a lot of my clients had deeper trauma than I realized. There was something about the eye movements that brought that out. The great thing about EMDR is that it gave me tools I didn’t have before. The not as great thing was that it was rigidified. You put tools into my hands and most real clinicians hands’ and we are going to start to experiment with it.
We are not going to use protocols and procedures. We are going to do it in the context of the relationship and in terms of the process. I started to modify EMDR pretty quickly, especially with clients that became very dissociative during the process. We were not prepared for how certain clients would flood and destabilize. I started to draw in other things, especially somatic experiencing, which is more about working with the body resources and accessing those systems.
If you think you can know where the client is at and where they’re going or, even more so, leading them, you do not understand essential neurobiology.
I started to hybridize the relational therapy that I had been doing and the technical aspects of EMDR but more of the body-based grounding aspect of somatic experiencing. Most people who say they do EMDR are not doing it the way that they were trained because they found that they needed to make it their own, modify it, and bring it into the clinical process, which is not how it’s conceptualized or taught in the essential training. The question of, “Are you doing EMDR or not?” If you ask the trainers and founder is no longer alive, the answer is no. What you are doing is not EMDR because you are not following the protocols and procedures.
It’s as strictly as they teach it.
To me, this is one of the big differences with Brainspotting. At every Brainspotting training and the ones that I do, I tell the attendees, “Don’t try to do it my way. Find a way that feels right and makes sense to you. Explore it on your own,” which is more creative but also more fitting with the clinical process than something that’s more strategic in that way. If your client makes a left turn when you are expecting them to make a right turn, you can’t make them take the right turn if you want to be attuned.
You have to follow them down that left turn and find out why they went down that left turn. By the time you are starting to figure it out, they have already made a right turn that you weren’t anticipating. The idea of anything preset doesn’t fit the human process and the neurobiological processes that are so deep, subcortical, somatic and unpredictable.
One of the things you highlighted in your book is you talk about the essence of following your client instead of leaving them.
If you leave your client, you are going to lead them to a place that has relevance to you and has much less relevance to them. We call it in Brainspotting getting in the tail of the comet. The idea is that the client and their process are the head of the comet. What we need to do to be attuned is to follow the comet wherever it goes, which means to get into the tail of the comet.
We also recognize that attunement is not something you attain and that’s that. For all reasons, we are always falling in and out of attunement. The idea is to be mindfully aware of that and the signs that were falling out of attunement so that we can begin to work our way back into the tail of the comet. Brainspotting is based on neurobiology. It’s a clinical relational process based on neurobiology and the nervous system of the client in front of us, having 1 to 4 quadrillion synaptic connections.
A quadrillion is a billion multiplied by a million. It’s so complex and rapid that sitting across from the client, whether it’s 6 feet across in your office or virtually as we are doing now. By the time the information hits you, the client is already gone. They are already ahead of that. If you think that you can know where the client is at and where they are going or even more so leading them, you are not understanding essential neurobiology, which is that all we can do is sit, be present and follow.
It comes to me as might be useful for our audience to have you talk a little bit about how you moved from being very involved in EMDR to Brainspotting. I found that a fascinating story.
By the time I discovered Brainspotting, I had made so many modifications to EMDR that I was no longer allowed to present at their conferences, which shows something about rigidity and so on. What I was doing in the EMDR world was not considered EMDR anymore, even though I was using the protocol to a certain degree in a modified way and body resource before I was even getting into body activation. I slowed down the eye movements dramatically and developed my own BioLateral Sound with nature sounds that I had engineered to move non-metronomically and in a very gentle, fluid way back and forth.
When I discovered Brainspotting, I wasn’t looking to have my own venue, breakaway, and have something in my own. Most people don’t know this. If the EMDR world, especially the organizational structure was open and creative in the state of evolution, I wouldn’t have taken my discovery outside of the larger EMDR umbrella. That umbrella and the space underneath it was shrinking year after year.
When I discovered my Brainspotting discovery, I was out on my own and not even being my own choice, which in retrospect is a positive thing. It allowed me to focus on developing Brainspotting in the way that I felt it should be and being a relational model, the Toulmin Model, and a Neurobiological Model altogether.
The story was, I was sitting with a client who was an ice skater, it’s documented in my book, who was championship-caliber but had many blocks. We had worked through virtually all of the blocks with a combination of SE, EMDR, and relational and energy therapy. Even though I wasn’t trained in it, there was very much an energy process to it.
She was stuck on one jump, which was the triple loop. It was a compulsory jump for either the short or the long program, and because of that, she couldn’t compete. She would jump up, turn around once, twice, and instead of going for that third revolution, she would pop out of the jump and land after two revolutions. It has come into public awareness with Simone Biles and her twisties. It’s the exact same thing.
Simone Biles couldn’t complete the full revolutions that she needed to because of trauma blocks. We know some of the trauma but there’s developmental trauma in there. With this skater, I had her not just visualize but also somatically feel herself doing the jump in slow motion and freezing it right at the point where she would pop out of it.
I did some extremely slow eye moments. In EMDR, the faster, the better. This is considered not even eye movements, according to Hoyle. I went back a few times, got right over here, and her eye went into this intense eye wobble. I was startled and then it froze. It felt like a hand grabbed my wrist and kept it in place there, which is ironic in the EMDR context. This happened because I stopped moving.
It was the fixation on a point of high relevance as determined by this powerful reflexive response that clearly was going down to her brainstem and spine. I was in the process but as I held it there, she looked at my fingertips and didn’t say, “Why did you stop anything?” She started to watch a video screen and narrate it, and trauma would come up and process through. She was describing this in real-time and then another trauma would come up and process through. These are personal traumas, skating traumas, injuries, falls and everything.
What happened is once that cleared through, that was about five minutes, the traumas that we had worked on before reopened came up again and processed through to a deeper level. This came sequentially one after the other, not on a temporal basis but they came up by sequence. After ten minutes, her eye released, everything slowed down, I finished up, and that was that.
I knew something had happened. I had a feeling it was big. I was almost afraid to think that something that profound had happened right in front of me and what the implications of that might be. She called from the practice rink the next morning and said, “David, I did a triple loop with no problem. I did it again and again.” She never had a problem with that or any other jumps.
It’s like an is-this-what-I-think-it-is moment. I started to experiment with my other clients. I was looking for the same thing but I wasn’t because I had never seen it before. I was looking for analogs of that experience where there would be a reflexive response, eye blinks or other things. Any time I saw one, I would stop there. These clients were used to the flowing eye movements.
I say, “Keep looking here and see what happens.” I saw that it went deeper. Intuitively, it makes sense that if a person is going to stare at a fixed spot as opposed to a moving spot, they have a chance to go deeper and drop down more. Clients would say, “This feels much deeper. I feel it all the way in the back of my head.” They were talking about relating to brainstorm activities.
I started to see that people went deeper, further and so on, and because a lot of my clients were therapists also doing processing therapies, I didn’t tell them what happened. I would do it with them and say, “Keep looking over here and watch what happens.” They would say, “Tell me what happened.” I would explain what happened with the skater. I didn’t say go out and try it with your clients.
Some did, right?
Good therapists are experimental because therapy is an experimental process. It’s trial and error.
We all did. Good therapists are experimental because therapy is an experimental process. It’s trial and error. You never do anything knowing what the outcome is going to be. You do it because you have a sense there’s going to be a positive outcome. In every session, trial and error are rolling through the whole time, even though we don’t conceptualize it that way. I saw stuff with the clients I hadn’t seen before. That was in 2003. That was the genesis of Brainspotting.
Almost all of us know who have done this work, we take training. It’s good training, and start adding our life experience and clinical intuition to it. If we are lucky, our clients or patients start teaching us in the process. At this stage of the game, how many people have been trained by you or your trainers for Brainspotting?
In the first few years, I was the only trainer. I was doing training in the United States and outside of the United States. We did one in Buenos Aires and in Berlin. I had developed relationships around the country and the world so when I discussed this and after I developed the training people, many people were interested in having me come in to do the training. After that, I started to develop other trainers because I couldn’t do all of them.
At this point, the Phase 1 and the Phase 2 training, the introductory and the more advanced training, I don’t do anymore unless it’s a very special occasion. I do three advanced training for people who have taken Phase 1 and Phase 2. I have lost track of exactly how many people we have trained but we have had training in every continent and country all around South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. I would say we have trained at least 20,000 to 25,000.
What are you doing in your model and training to keep it from getting to the rigidified one-size-fits-all approach that you found happening with EMDR?
You are giving me a platform to stand upon and start spouting from so I will try to not spout. I noticed from my social work school field placements in my first job that something got lost in the organization. The original purpose, which was to serve the client, ended up evolving or devolving into preserving the agency or the organization. It’s a natural thing that happens and it’s a way that focus is lost.
If you have a training modality and an organization of the training modality, unless you have a strong philosophy about it and work that philosophy all the time, things start to get rigidified. In reality, everything in nature is moving all the time like molecules, subatomic particles and energy. Everything is always moving. Nothing stays the same and yet, we come up with healing modalities and tend to concretize them instead of recognizing that whatever it has to be something different tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.
It’s not part of the philosophy of most therapies and modalities. When it gets into an organization, then you start getting this stratification. The movement of evolution is gone and the original purpose, which is to provide the best healing you can possibly provide for people. This is still inside of us but on a functional basis, it becomes less important.
I never said, “When I have my own organization, I’m not going to do that,” because I never thought I would have my own organization. As this evolved, I made sure that we did not get that structure. Brainspotting for what it is with 80 trainers around the world. We are getting probably 100 consultants. It’s the most natural thing to go into a bureaucracy with it.
One of the things people criticize is that Brainspotting is an organization that is not organized enough. To me, it’s more of an organic community than it is an organization. We have a certain amount of structure to it but I have kept it to a minimum. If a person takes Phase 1 and they see I’m teaching Phase 3, they want to take Phase 3 because they are not going to have a chance to take it with me for two years.
We don’t say to that person, “You have to take Phase 2 first and then take Phase 3. Forget about coming to Phase 3.” It’s an open, expensive and permeable model. What fits the modality has to fit the organization. I have put my imprint on that. As far as marketing goes, you will find some level of marketing with most organizations in modalities. That’s natural. You want people to know about what you are doing and be drawn towards what you are doing.
We do not have a marketing department for Brainspotting. We don’t do any marketing. I’m here talking and people are listening. That’s part of how we spread the word. The purpose of Brainspotting as a modality and the training is not to get the most number of people to come to the training. That’s the natural marketing approach and the profit motive. We don’t want to exclude or turn anybody away but we don’t want people to come based on the strength of our marketing. We want people to come based on the strength of the model.
That word gets out from therapist to therapist in each country and around the world. The word gets out among the client population. We talked about energy. There seems to be some flow of energy among people who have received Brainspotting as clients that the word gets out. People end up finding out about it that way, more even from clients than from therapists. We do fine financially because people come because of the quality of the modality and training.
When that’s not our primary goal, the primary goal is to provide the best healing tools to the people who come to our training and for those people to then go and bring the best healing tools they can bring to the clients for their healing, which is the goal in Brainspotting too, so that clients will receive the best healing they can possibly receive. As long as I’m in charge and have influence, this is the way it has been and will be. It’s not a philosophy or a mindset that you will find. People don’t even think about it in other modalities.
As I read the book, you said a number of different times that you view Brainspotting as a tool to use and be blended with other tools the therapist uses in a relational model as you are talking about being in the tail of the comet and following the patient or client wherever they go. I asked the question because I know from my experience in the field after years of taking different training like this, it’s very common to go to training and be surrounded by people that think, “This is it. We have found gold. All we need to do anymore is EMDR, CBT or EFT tapping.”
They want to make it the be-all and end-all. I was very appreciative in the book of how you said very specifically, “This is a tool. This can be part of what the toolkit that you, as a therapist, haven’t developed.” You encourage people to be creative with it the way you were creative in coming up with it.
Models tend to not encourage creativity but compliance. That’s the nature of things. I specifically made sure that Brainspotting doesn’t follow the ways of other models. To give a little bit more background to what you are talking about, I knew that Brainspotting, especially as I developed it, provided certain healing that, for the most part, was not out there. I also knew that it wasn’t the only thing that provided healing.
What I wanted to do was to fill that area that was so important, which is in a relational context getting access to deep neurobiology through eye positions and eye reflexes. I put the focus on developing that. There’s the idea of what EMDR, SE, and IFS bring or all these other things. There’s no need out there for me to develop that stuff. It’s already out there and it’s highly evolved and effective.
For me, I wasn’t trying to bring out something that would replace everything else. I was trying to bring out something that would have meant everything that’s out there. I also had the philosophical and the scientific underpinnings that I believe should apply to every psychotherapy. I would take that as an offering, not anything else.
In other words, the uncertainty principle in Brainspotting posits that if you are sitting in front of a person with a system of 1 to 4 quadrillion synaptic connections, you are by nature sitting in a state of uncertainty. The idea that you can take the history, form a diagnosis, have a treatment plan, and have that be workable in the context of the infinite connections in front of you is unscientific. It goes against brain science.
I’m not saying that history-taking, diagnostic thinking, and treatment planning have no value but it has to be contextualized in the neurobiological imperative of the person sitting in front of you. If you go in with any information in your head, you are going to be listening to that information to the degree that you are going to be listening to your client less. If you are sitting there and you have embraced uncertainty and surrendered to it, you will be much more able to recognize that the information you have about the client can only come from the client and the client’s process.
That should apply to every psychotherapy. That’s not a matter of whether you use eye positions or if you use this setup, and this and that. To me, it’s the neurobiological underpinning and imperative of psychotherapy. You don’t have to integrate that. You either recognize that or you don’t. The most important part of the healing is the attuned presence of the relationship between both people.
That’s another core tenet of Brainspotting. That, to me, applies to all psychotherapy, whether it’s a part of the therapy or not. To me, you can’t integrate an uncertainty model with a certainty model. They are not integratable but you can do EMDR, SE or IFS from the uncertainty model. That will make you much more inclined to listen to and follow your client than it will listen to your own training, experience, and even wisdom.
The most important part of the healing is the attuned presence of the relationship between both people.
I will tell you a story. I’ve got tons of stories so I will be selective about it. I did a lot of humanitarian work up in Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut. I would go once a month and see clients on Friday and Saturday. I also train the staff there as well as some of their local therapists in Brainspotting. There’s this one woman. She was an art therapist. We are open to people who are in different therapy modalities, who had been struggling with this one client and using Brainspotting with her. She asked if I could work with her and she could sit in. I said yes. The woman sits down and she starts talking. I started to do flat-out SE with her. I was aware of where she was looking. I didn’t even call it to her attention.
SE is a Somatic Experiencing for people who might not know. You are reading everything about the physical response.
I’m also following it and helping the person to attune to it and all this. There’s this woman who was waiting to discover Brainspotting. I show how to do Brainspotting with this client. I flowed into the SE that I had been trained in because that’s how I was attuning to her and following her. I tell that story because if the Head of Brainspotting can sit down and do an SE session, it’s because I wasn’t concerned with doing Brainspotting or teaching this woman. I was concerned with bringing the best healing I could to this woman. That’s what came out.
The integrative nature that we have in Brainspotting is not that you are supposed to do or integrate Brainspotting. It’s, you are supposed to be present with the person in a way and respond to them in a way that promotes their healing the most, no matter what it is. I couldn’t care less about doing Brainspotting as opposed to bringing the optimal healing to a person who has been waiting for days, weeks, months, years and decades.
That puts me to mind the old adage, “Thank God I’m young and not a young man.” When I get that solidified and so rigid, I lose effectiveness dramatically.
I’m changing and evolving all the time. I have been doing this for years and I’m learning and growing as much as I did at any point in my career.
Have there been significant changes in the way you do, present or teach Brainspotting?
Some people train with me, come back and train with me again. Some people repeat the Phase 3 and Phase 4 masterclass. When they come back after 2 or 3 years, it’s like you are teaching another modality. What you are teaching and how you are teaching it are significantly different. I like to say that if you are not moving forward and staying in one place, you are moving backward. We have to be evolving.
I will push the point even further. I write this in the afterword in my book. Brainspotting is temporary. Brainspotting is not meant to be here forever. Brainspotting is here as long as it’s meant to be here and needed to be here, whether inspired by Brainspotting or something else. Something else comes along that brings more effective healing to clients. The goal is not to have everybody trained in Brainspotting. The goal is to evolve to a point where our ability to bring healing to people supersedes what it is now and certainly what it was before.
You are not going to hear the head of any modality say that their modality is meant to be temporary or time-limited. That shows the philosophy of it. It’s the philosophy that we sit in front of our clients. Anything is possible as long as we don’t get in the way with the narrowing of our perspectives or trying to use techniques to bring about healing that can only happen inside the person.
To take that phrase, “To bring about the healing,” can you say a little bit about your understanding of the dynamic that Brainspotting accesses that triggers that healing response and what that’s like? You have a significant understanding of brain structure and functioning. How do you conceptualize the healing that takes place within a Brainspotting session?
So far, in everything I have talked about, I haven’t talked about eye positions or very little about eye positions. In the context of the relationship and the neurobiological awareness, we have found that where you look affects how you feel. It’s not an accident because the retinas and the optic nerves are made up of neurons. Vision and information processing in the brain are inseparable in certain ways. I noticed early on that when you are thinking of asking a question, your eyes were compelled to go up in that direction and even your head went a little bit with it.
There’s nothing random about that but because it’s something we all do all the time, we don’t notice it or pay attention to it. This is another thing in terms of integrability. Any therapist who hears about this aspect of Brainspotting calls it Gazespotting. It’s the natural gaze that happens at certain points in life and a therapy session. To notice that, to point it out to the person, and to encourage them to look there, whatever they were accessing by doing this, instead of continuing to move the eyes around, they are going to continue to access it.
There’s no conscious thought-based and language-based aspect to it. It goes right past us by the neocortex, the human thinking brain. It goes right into the subcortex, the mammalian limbic brain, the reptilian autonomic brainstem, and down into the spine. To notice that, to have the person keep looking there, and to have them mindfully observe wherever things go for them, we call it processing therapy. That something happens differently than if you didn’t do it that way.
It’s noticing, honoring, and accessing whatever that process was that brought the person’s eyes up there. Another one is we use pointers because you can’t keep your hand and your arm raised for more than a few minutes. Another thing is when a person is activated around an issue, they say, “This is what I want to work on.” We make sure that they are activated and aware of where they are holding the activation in the body.
This goes back to that original discovery. As we slowly grow across the visual field, looking for reflexive responses. You will see a person all of a sudden go like this or a person’s head goes back. They go over here and they go. They go over here and you start to get rapid eye blinking or you go over here and the person bites their lip. You keep going, they don’t bite their lip but they bite it right on that one spot. In each of those spots, the reflexes that we are seeing from the person whose system is activated are showing that there’s something there.
The fact is we don’t know what it is and we don’t have to know what it is. If you see some real significant reflexes and sometimes even the subtle reflexes. If you stop, come over here, and the person starts blinking and there’s a little cough. I’m doing it to myself here like I’m the client. Virtually, we do it on the screen. The person goes into processing but they are held at the place where that reflex happened. There’s a much deeper, more focused, and organized processing that’s going on for the person based on this eye position.
The other way is what we call outside the window because it’s looking into the eyes. Inside the window is when you look to see where the person feels at the most. You go between on this side, in the middle or over here and the person says, “Go back over it and right over there,” and then we go vertically. You feel it more above eye-level, at eye-level or below. The person says, “Go up, a little lower and right there.” People direct us.
How do they know to direct us? It’s because of the somatic activation that they feel, whether it’s tightening in the chest, increased heart rate, respiration or something in the stomach. They are giving us the feedback that there’s something about this eye position where they have a greater activation and they feel it more, which means that they have greater access to whatever is deeper down. The person will continue to look here and go into this processing. We follow them wherever they go and keep track of it.
Periodically, we will take them back to the issue that they are working on and have them bring it up so that they and we can have a sense of the effect of the processing, which sometimes is subtle and dramatic. What I’m saying with all these things with the eye position work is that anybody who does this will find that certain things happen that wouldn’t happen otherwise in the same way sometimes in-depth and the rapidity of it.
There have been other modalities that have used eye positions before with the attunement but never with the comprehensiveness that Brainspotting has. This is something that should be part of every psychotherapy. That doesn’t mean everybody should come and study Brainspotting. Everybody should understand the relevance of eye positions to the human, the neurological, and the personal experience.
If somebody comes along and tells me about something that they find effective, and it’s not what I’m doing, my initial response is curiosity and then hopefulness. If there’s anything I can add to what I’m doing or even replace what I’m doing with that helps me be more effective with the people who come to me for healing. I’m all in on that process. The relational attunement, being present, and following clients where they go should be part of every therapy. If it’s not, there are some design flaws in that therapy. As experienced and knowledgeable as a therapist I am, there are a lot of things I can do using eye positions that I couldn’t do if I wasn’t using them.
As you say, there are certain training like Somatic Experiencing or Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. Many of us would hope that becomes a standard part of basic clinical training and that we learn to tune in more to the person who’s sitting in front of us and understand that this is an energy system and it’s all connected. As a foundational piece, there are several observational, following, and connected pieces that one would hope are the foundation of any therapy training. We know they aren’t yet but we hope we are getting there.
Anything is possible as long as we don’t get in the way of narrowing our perspectives or trying to use techniques to bring about healing that can only happen inside the person.
If you look at graduate school, it’s not so much. The fact that there’s a bit here and there is an improvement from what it was but this should be foundational. I was trained in Depth Psychology that didn’t have any awareness of body processes. That’s ridiculous. The prominence of the body experience as a way to access the human and the neurobiological experience, there’s no other way around it.
It’s the most direct way. It’s right there in front of us all day, every day.
I’m not an expert on energy therapy. I have some training in it and some experience but Brainspotting is very much an energy therapy that can be fully integrated with all energy therapies. There’s no need for me to have to do that work because people take what they have, take what Brainspotting brings, and bring them together. They are fully complementary and even synergistic.
That’s what I like about it. The more creative and effective therapists that I have seen work are blending these things. I have seen a therapist with the RTR approach. I have seen him be in the middle of a hypnosis session with somebody and have them start EFT tapping. There’s no hesitation to blend eye movements, EFT tapping or as you were doing in that one example. You start and it dawns on you as Somatic Experiencing is what’s going to help this woman the most. That’s what many of us have found for years. That’s the most effective way to approach something, not through a model but through that connection with the person you are sitting in front of.
We call it the relational frame. In other words, the client has whatever brings them to therapy. It’s got to be a lot for somebody to seek out the help of the therapist, open up, have to pay for it and commit to the time. That’s the frame that they bring in. They walk in, tell us about it, and hand us the frame. We don’t hold their frame. We hold their frame with them. That’s the relational frame.
There’s something about that frame of the person and us being with them and them being with us that creates a space and energy that things happen in that wouldn’t happen otherwise for the person. In Brainspotting, it’s the frame, which is a context. It’s a Neuro-Experiential process that comes up, comes into awareness and flows out.
You were talking about a couple of examples and we should tie this together for people that what we have experienced with this work is as somebody starts to access and process, often there’s not a whole lot more for me to do as a therapist except hold that space and witness it with them. A lot of people who are reading this might think, “What do you do after you see all those traumas like the skater you were talking about?” Say a few words from your perspective about what happens when the person accesses that information.
Western philosophy and ideology is something that happen because you make it happen. The Eastern ideology is more something happens because you are present with it, you notice it, you let it happen, and you follow it. This is much more of an Eastern approach. If you don’t do too much or have too many outside interventions, it takes a hell of a lot to be present with a person, stay with them, and follow them, especially when there’s so much trauma involved. It’s not only their trauma but it’s generational trauma.
Each of us, as the therapist, is carrying our trauma. To be present with a person takes a lot more than to be active with a person. To follow the person means you are surrendering what you know and your perceived control of a process. It takes a much more evolved therapist to do that than to be thinking that you know the answers and you are going to bring the answers to the person.
Resolution happens when people start accessing the deeper experience, memories, and connections between that and what’s holding them up in their life. I don’t have to do anything to fix them once they go back, integrate, re-experience, and get access to those energies. I know a lot of times, especially when I’m working with somebody, they will say, “What do I do?” The answer is to stay with that and write about it.
A resolution is not a destination. It’s a process with no end like life and energy. We know that the human system has the genius of self-healing. We know that on a psychophysiological basis. Traumatic experiences create blocks or an unprocessed experience in that human system. The genius remains in the person and it’s for us to be with a person in such a way that their system’s genius can take over, find the blocks, process the blocks, and bring permeability to the blocks. That which is unprocessed can be processed in real-time as you flow into the future.
If you think about it, and we are wrapping up here, is there an aspect of your work, Brainspotting or therapy in general that I haven’t asked you about that you want to make sure you get out there?
I could go in a few different directions. I do want to say that for people who have the most profound of traumas that start early in life and go on throughout their development where their systems are not able to have sufficient attachment, they also have hired dissociation quotients. It’s not a disorder. It’s a natural response pattern. Brainspotting is very effective but it’s not a miracle cure. These people still need long-term therapy and the relationship is the foundation of it despite the Brainspotting tools that you use.
If someone has a car accident and it’s not sitting on top of a complex trauma network, in 3 to 5 sessions, you may help them to be free of the symptoms of that car accident. Most of the work we do with people is more complex. There are no miracle cures and healing takes time. No matter how effective any modality is, including Brainspotting, I want to also cite that we use Brainspotting also for performance.
Performance can be for an athlete, stage performer or writer. We have the performance of everyday life. To paraphrase Freud, “How we walk through our days in terms of what we do, how we relate to others, what we have to do, and what we try to do is all in the element of performance.” It’s not easy to change performance blocks.
What you do is you use that as the pathway for healing. When you do performance work and I work with athletes, actors, and so on, they get more healing out of it than anything else. It’s always about healing. Whatever we do in Brainspotting, other modalities, and integrative modalities, the one focus we have is promoting the healing process with people.
You would direct people to Brainspotting.com. It’s the primary website for this.
It’s Brainspotting.com. My book is on Amazon. There’s a bunch of stuff up on YouTube. The clearest one is What is Brainspotting? People have plenty of websites up there. Brainspotting has evolved and spread internationally so much.
I greatly appreciate you taking the time to be with us and sharing your work. If you have another creative genius moment and come up with something even better by leaps and bounds, please let us know.
If you do, please let me and everybody else know. It can happen for all of us.
We don’t know when that’s going to pop in but I greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure talking with you.
- BioLateral Sound
- Brainspotting: The Revolutionary New Therapy for Rapid and Effective Change
- Emotional Healing at Warp Speed
- This Is Your Brain on Sports
- Phase 1 – Training
- Phase 2 – Training
- Phase 3 – Training
- Phase 4 – Training
- Amazon – Brainspotting: The Revolutionary New Therapy for Rapid and Effective Change
- What is Brainspotting? – YouTube
About David Grand, Ph.D.
Dr. Grand is a psychotherapist, writer, lecturer, performance coach and humanitarian famous for the discovery and development of the internationally acclaimed Brainspotting method, which brings about life-changing breakthroughs.
Brain-based therapy is the fastest-growing area in the field of psychological health, because it has proven it can immediately address issues that talk therapy can take years to heal. Now, Dr. David Grand presents the next leap forward in psychological care, combining the strengths of brain-based and talk therapies into a powerful technique he calls “Brainspotting.”
Dr. Grand, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Ph.D. from International University, is renowned for his groundbreaking discoveries and advancements in the areas of healing trauma and enhancing performance and creativity. His Brainspotting method and BioLateral Sound are now used by thousands of therapists on every continent seeking to break through the limitations of talk therapy. Dr. Grand is the author of Brainspotting: The Revolutionary New Therapy for Rapid and Effective Change and Emotional Healing at Warp Speed.
In addition, he is the co-author of This Is Your Brain on Sports. Dr. Grand’s clients include professional athletes, entertainers, business leaders and survivors of profound trauma (including 9/11, Katrina, Newtown and Iraq/Afghanistan combat veterans). They have all sought out his powerful method as a means to realize the kind of personal, professional and creative breakthroughs.
Dr. Grand is a sought after lecturer, performance coach and public speaker. He has taught scene work at the New Actors Workshop, as well as privately coaching both stage and screen actors. He has presented seminars on his innovative methods and keynoted at numerous international therapy conferences, in addition to teaching performance and creativity seminars. He now spends months every year traveling around the world training therapists on the use of Brainspotting and sharing his BioLateral Sound with professional groups of all kinds, including business, sports, the arts and therapy.
Committed to the use of Brainspotting as a tool to ease human suffering, Dr. Grand has become widely known for his humanitarian contributions through sharing his wisdom and insights into healing trauma with the world. He was the clinical director of the Faithful Response program, which treated 9/11 survivors and returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan. He has organized many pro bono trauma therapy trainings in places most in need, such as in Northern Ireland, Israel, Newtown, CT and inner cities of the United States. He has also treated thousands of survivors of the World Trade Center Attack, Hurricane Katrina and Newtown, CT.
Dr. Grand has been featured on CNN, NBC, Nightline, The Jane Pauley Show and Extra. He has been cited in The New York Times, The Washington Post, O Magazine, Golf Digest and Newsday, for his enormous success in healing victims of trauma and successfully treating the sports condition called the “Yips.” Dr. Grand was the trauma consultant for the acclaimed PBS documentary Newtown. The PBS documentary Depression: Out of the Shadows, which included Dr. Grand as a featured expert, won a 2008 Peabody Award.
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