Brain Spotting

January 28, 2020


Welcome to Recovery Radio by Landmark Recovery with your host, Zach Crouch. In this program, we’ll discuss the root causes and treatments of alcohol and substance addiction, speak with experts in related fields, and help navigate the road to recovery.

Now, here’s the host of Recovery Radio, Zach Crouch.

Zach: Hello. I’m Zach Crouch, host of the Recovery Radio podcast, your source for addiction and recovery news and knowledge. If you know someone struggling with drugs or alcohol, Recovery Radio is here to help. We’re dedicated to providing you with the tools to help you or a loved one take the first step on the road to recovery.

Joining us on the show today is Cassie Baker. Cassie is a licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with four years of full-time experience as a Mental Health Practitioner. She is also a temporary certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and provides mental health counseling to duly-diagnosed individuals in her current role as an Out-patient Therapist.

Cassie, I just want to say welcome to the show. We are so grateful to have you on with us as a guest today.

Cassie: Thank you so much for having me, Zach.

Zach: As the title of the show would suggest, Brain Spotting, I’m sure our listeners would love to know what exactly is Brainspotting.

Cassie: Yes, sure. Brainspotting is a form of treatment that helps you identify processes and relieve emotional and physical pain that could be related to depression, anxiety, traumas, addiction, and other challenges. A lot of times, people come to therapy because they feel stuck in their past and their current experiences. Painful memories might be resurfacing without any warning. Anxiety and panic you know can show up at any moment.

Depression interferes with our ability to feel connected to ourselves or to anybody else and we endure the pain of grieving for a long time after a loss; so truly awesome when you find a trained professional who you’re able to connect with and talk to these experiences and hearing that it’s definitely possible even with traditional talk therapy but hearing how it work. We’re always looking for new methods that allow us to help our clients process more thoroughly, more quickly, and foster those long-term changes.

Brainspotting is one of those methods and it really works. In brain Spotting, we are going to look for a specific eye position where the client feels the most activated or in other words, where they’re noticing the most tension in their body when they think about a specific memory or relief or whatever it is that they’re feeling stuck in and we help with that.

The therapists help with that by actually moving a pointer back and forth, horizontally in a client’s line of vision until we find a specific, what we call a brain spot so that’s the spot that kind of triggers a heightened physical response. That lets us know that we’ll tap into that and then we just go from there.

 

It’s really interesting and when we allow ourselves to connect in this way, we’re really able to foster and meet with them and our own healing capacity.

 

Zach: That’s fantastic. How did all this get started? Brain spotting is a practice developed from whom?

 

Cassie: David Grant. Brainspotting was born of the EMDR. Go ahead.

 

Zach: Yes, yes. No. I was just agreeing. Yes, continue. EMDR. I’m familiar with that.

 

Cassie: You’re familiar with EMDR?

 

Zach: Yes, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, correct?

 

Cassie: Correct. Yes. This guy, David Grand was a certified EMDR Therapist. Over the course of his practice, he’d already come up with his own version of EMDR that he called Natural Flow EMDR where he had slowed down the eye movement. So within the EMDR, he knows that as a therapist is moving their fingers back and forth, left to right, along that horizontal vision field with the client so he just slowed that down.

 

He was working with one of his clients who was a competitive figure skater. He’d been working with her for about a year of, I think, 90-minute sessions doing this Gentle Flow EMDR. She’s made a lot of progress but she was stuck on one of her jumps. She was stuck on the triple loop.

 

Zach: Okay.

 

Cassie: He was working with her…

 

Zach: Okay. I’m not a figure skater but I’m sure that’s pretty difficult, right?

 

Cassie: Right.

 

Zach: Yes.

 

Cassie: Yes. It’s where you spin three times in the air and then come down and land without falling on your butt.

 

Zach: Yes.

 

Cassie: She was very capable and very competent and just could not land this jump. I believe that she felt like her legs would go numb in the moment right before she tried to go into the air and do this spin and then come down and land.

 

They were using EMDR in one of her sessions. He had her focus on the physical feelings right before she tried to execute that jump. While he was slowly moving his hand across her line of vision, he noticed facial reflexes so that her eyes kind of wiggled. He felt like his hand was being held in that spot so he was laughing. He was like, “Okay, something is happening. I’m going to see where this goes.”

 

Suddenly, while she’s working at that particular spot, she just unloads tons of trauma that had never come out in prior sessions as well as some traumas that they had already processed through that they thought were resolved. They came back out.

 

Afterwards, she landed that jump and never had trouble with it again. It had brought up these deeply-repressed memories. It had also helped her to find a deeper place of healing for things that she thought, they thought had already been worked through and resolved.

 

Zach: Wow. Wow!

 

Cassie: Yes.

 

Zach: Lots of questions now. With Brainspotting, at least, this seems like it has multiple applications. You brought up sports. By the way, are there any notable athletes that you are aware of that used Brainspotting?

 

Cassie: Oh, yes. In his book, he had worked with a guy who had played for the Mets. I could find his name really quick. Let’s see. Since I’ve got the book sitting here with me…

 

Zach: Yes.

 

Cassie: Let’s see.

 

Zach: Professional baseball player?

 

Cassie: Mackey Sasser.

 

Zach: Who was it?

 

Cassie: He was a former New York Mets catcher. He is known in the world for…oh, what is it called? The yips!

 

Zach: Oh, the yips. Yes.

 

Cassie: Yips, yes. You’ve heard of the yips?

 

Zach: Oh, it happens in golf. I was just going to ask. That’s a thing that happens with golfers. It’s basically they get over putts and they get what they call the yips. That means that you just…you’re pushing the putt. You’re pulling the putt. You can’t hit it straight and whatever it is. There’s a reaction that people have called the yips. Okay.

 

Cassie: Exactly, exactly. Yes. David Grant tried to develop Brainspotting, the guy who literally wrote the book on Brainspotting. He had worked with several other athletes that he said in his book kind of prepared him to work with this guy Mackey Sasser and he said, “This guy’s pro career was ended actually by the most famous case of throwing the pitcher’s yips.” It’s known in the baseball world as Sasser Syndrome and Mackey Sasser-itis because of this guy.

 

He also comes to find out a laundry list of sports injury traumas and significant personal traumas. He goes on to say, “All it took,” and I’m reading this, “All it took was three extended Brainspotting sessions and Mackey was able to… during batting practice with the college team coaches.”

 

Zach: Wow.

 

Cassie: He goes on to say, “Mackey said that the Brainspotting had also lifted a 50-pound weight off his back.”

 

Zach: Wow.

 

Cassie: Yes.

 

Zach: I’m curious now and I’m sure that the people listening are, too. You bring up trauma and this idea of people feeling stuck and then not feeling connected, which is part and parcel for trauma victims.

 

Cassie: Totally.

 

Zach: How does Brainspotting, how does it relate to trauma though?

 

Cassie: Yes, I know. That’s a great question. Trauma affects us in so many ways. When we’re talking about “the mind” and I say “the mind” with the air quotes going up, right? It’s easy to kind of associate that specifically with our brain and then to separate that from our physical body. Right?

 

Zach: Right.

 

Cassie: If our brain and our body are truly separate, then why is it that we can hear a song that triggers a memory and now suddenly we have a physical feeling in our body?

 

Zach: Yes.

 

Cassie: Traumas get stuck because the traumatic memories are too big, too distressing, too deserving to process in the same way than when your true memory would be. The traumatic memory and all of those associated thoughts, feelings, they’re likely to be suppressed and pushed deep, deep down so that that person can continue to function as normally as possible.

 

Zach: Is that where the term “disassociate” comes from, what you’re talking about?

 

Cassie: It can be. Yes. That’s one of the ways that trauma serve back up. Even though we push it down, it shows up. Dissociation is one form. It’s a symptom of trauma where a person, you think of it, maybe like an out-of-body experience. They’re also on a lesser level even. I guess maybe not lesser but in other symptoms that show up with the traumas — our nightmares, flashback, hyper vigilance, all of those along with dissociation are symptoms of unresolved traumas.

 

What Brainspotting does is it allows us to target a specific brain spot that provides access to those memories and everything that is going to be associated with them. A kind of way to think of Brainspotting is sort of like finding a portal for maybe gaining access to a file.

 

Zach: I was thinking about that when you mentioned that idea of finding a specific spot. It’s as though you as the practitioner have these specifically-made keys to help people unlock that piece that they can’t unlock themselves.

 

Cassie: Right, right, for sure.

 

Zach: That’s great.

 

Cassie: Yes. We don’t know. We don’t know what all is going to be in that file unless we access it directly and that’s what Brainspotting really offers. It’s just a more direct route.

 

Zach: That’s great. We mentioned athletes. Are they the ideal candidates for Brainspotting? Who is the ideal candidate for this?

 

Cassie: Anyone. Honestly, it’s an amazing tool. Trauma processing is probably where I would say I believe is used the most in my practice so really anybody can benefit. I’ve been Brainspotting to a score grief and loss especially when we’re going with complicated bereavement.

 

It’s good for phobias, addiction, physical pain. It doesn’t even have to be like I guess, the really achy, like hard, challenging emotions that works. You can use Brainspotting to tap into an enhanced creativity for expression. David Grant, again, he talks about working with actors and actresses and other performers.

 

Zach: Stage fright, things like that, right?

 

Cassie: Yes, yes or just doing connected or shifting in and out of character or if they get stuck lyrically. They’re trying to maybe create a song or…

 

Zach: Would that be an author who have the writer’s block, things like that?

 

Cassie: Right, exactly, exactly. Really, I don’t know that there’s an ideal candidate other than someone who is just willing to work with it and willing to explore those in-patients that they feel stuck in and they instruct their therapist not to hold that phase.

 

Zach: This is good stuff. I’m going to ask you the question. How did you find and begin using Brainspotting?

 

Cassie: Yes. I first heard about Brainspotting from a colleague of mine who had just completed the training. I knew about EMDR. I knew what that was, but I have never heard of Brainspotting. I did some research and I was immediately interested. It really seemed to just fit in with what I was already doing in therapy.

 

At that time, I was in a place where I was looking for some ways to tap into processing mechanisms for a couple of my clients who were just having a hard time and talk therapy wasn’t necessarily doing everything that I felt like that person needed.

 

A little bit after, another co-worker told me about an upcoming training that was going to happen and I pretty much knew that was it. I was committed and I was ready to learn the skill and enhance my practice.

 

Cassie: That’s fantastic. One of the things that we do at Landmark that I want to mention just briefly to the audience and I think I’ve told you this, too, Cassie. I think the heart of trauma for many people is this inability to put words that are sufficient to the degree of trauma that they’ve experienced whether it be large or small. It’s only for them to determine whether it be big or little. Right?

 

There’s this idea that we have to create safety. We have to for people to be able to do the work, to get beyond the trauma that holds them back from leading fulfilling lives. What I’m hearing you say is that number one, Brainspotting is for you a wonderful tool, but also I think more importantly in a lot of ways is this idea of you have to have trust in the relationship with the people that you see.

 

Zach: Yes, definitely, definitely. In Brainspotting, we talk about dual attunements. What that means is we are really checking in with that person consistently while we’re doing this and because we are totally attuned to that person and we are totally containing that phase and we use that language “containing” because that’s really what we’re doing.

 

We’re providing a container that’s safe enough for all of those big feelings to present themselves, to show up without shutting that person down because that’s the only way that they’re going to work through them and because of that it is safe and the client is able to safely access physical feelings and other sensations with enough space and within that relationship.

 

Zach: Yes because by doing this work, I think that, to your point, people really do begin to then connect with the head and the heart because I think that so often what happens with people who have been through traumatic events is that they separate the two out and they begin to live up in their head where for all intents and purposes, a lot safer. Right?

 

You begin to process this stuff and you find out or a lot of people find out that “Man, I have been doing so much to just stuff down these feelings and not feel them because they’ve just been too overwhelming, too scary,” whatever the word might be.

 

Cassie: Yes. It’s pretty overwhelming.

 

Zach: For sure. With this modality, we call it Brainspotting, how does a therapist relate where someone is looking and how they’re feeling when they look that way with the treatment?

 

Cassie: Yes, another great question. If you Google Brainspotting then you probably would see the phrase “where you look affects how you feel.” That’s sort of a big premise of Brainspotting and we know that to be true and it’s more complicated than that. The brain, the way that the brain is organized, it’s sort of… front to back.

 

In the front, we have our cortical or our like, thinking brain, in the middle is our limbic, our emotional brain and then the back is our hind brain and that contains the brain stem. When I was in my training, we used the language “lizard brain and wizard brain” to explain why Brainspotting works the way that it does.

 

Basically, our “lizard brain” is that deep, deep brain that’s our survival instincts. That’s our fight, flight or freeze and then out from that our emotions. Our “wizard brain” is that neo-cortex. It’s our judgement. It’s our creativity. It’s our ability to ask questions like what if.

 

When we locate that brain spot, when we locate that eye position related to the inner key or the emotion of that emotionally-charged ACQ, we’ll call it, we are tapping into our limbic brain. We are tapping into our “lizard brain.” We are getting into those deep held experiences and sensations and we’re working with those directly versus having to verbally unpack, right?

 

We use that language in therapy. We’re unpacking. Instead of having to verbally unpack, “Okay, we’re going to take this layer off then we’re going to see what’s under there. Okay, I’m noticing this. Let’s dig a little deeper. Dig a little deeper.” Right? Instead of that, we’re on straight to that source. “We’re going up the mountain,” you might say.

 

Zach: Wow. When you assessment on somebody who walks in for the first time into Cassie Baker’s office, do you go from zero to 60 in a millisecond with this stuff or do you kind of feel out after the first, second or third session it’s like, “now is a good time to start doing this?” How do you judge when to begin doing the Brainspotting?

 

Cassie: That’s a really good question. It’s very client-centered. Everything about this is they’re client-centered. When somebody walks into my office for the first time, I’ve got about 60 minutes to get to know what it is that they want to achieve while they’re working with me. Really that first session is just information gathering and I have mentioned to them in that session, “Hey, have you heard of Brainspotting?”

 

I might even give them a little bit of information about it and allow them to kind of figure out what this thing is that I offer. I’m definitely not going to be like, “Yo, let’s jump in and brain spot.” The next time they come in I’m really still getting to know them and they’re getting to know me.

 

What I like about Brainspotting is that it is so fluid. It is so flexible. It is so intuitive. I as the clinician have the ability to kind of feel that out and to trust the clients. They’ll let you know like, “Yes, I’m really interested and this is something I want to try. I want to jump in and let’s do a whole session.” What’s cool about is we can do just like a ten-minute, “We’re going to kind of feel this out and see what it feels like to be in that head phase.” Does that make sense?

 

Zach: Yes, yes it does. Kind of what I’m picking up is that it really is it’s on the onus of the therapist to kind of decide at what point it’s most appropriate based on their session that they had leading up to beginning actual Brainspotting.

 

Cassie: Right. I’ll be honest. It’s hard to answer that question fully just because right now most of the people who I’m using this with are people who I’ve been treating for a while. I am integrating it into our treatments versus having so many new people coming in who are specifically wanting this or whatever the case may be. Ask me that again in a year.

 

Zach: The answer might be different, probably will be different, right?

 

Cassie: Yes, yes, exactly.

 

Zach: Cool. Just with this Brainspotting, does a certain spot correlate with a specific feeling? For example, everyone who looks to the left feels anxiety. Everyone who looks to the right feels depression. Is there any kind of rhyme or reason to that?

 

Cassie: No. It’s different for everybody. It’s different for every issue. When I was being trained, we did several practicums and I found myself when I was in the role of client, I found myself landing on a different spot every time based on whatever it was that I was talking with.

 

In working with clients, even when we are kind of addressing those same issues from session to session, they aren’t necessarily always using the exact same eye position. It’s really interesting to just kind of again, you’re just flowing with it and staying curious and staying open. It’s the client who is guiding all of this.

 

Zach: I’m curious to know just from you, have you ever done just with someone, I’m going to even open this up to our listeners at home, do you feel comfortable doing just like a short demo about what this could be like?

 

Cassie: Yes, totally.

 

Zach: Okay. Basically, what do I and what would our listeners, obviously if someone’s driving they don’t need to be doing this?

 

Cassie: No, not at all.

 

Zach: If they’re in a safe spot, maybe they’re at home right now and there’s not a pot boiling on the stove, can you guide us or me, just us through what that looks like?

 

Cassie: Yes, definitely. First things first, find a comfortable place where you feel like you can settle in, where you feel like you can scan your body. We just want you start to notice how your body feels, become aware of where you feel tight or tense. Also notice where in your body you feel calm, grounded. You can press your feet into the ground, wiggle your toes, and feel just really present.

 

As you are connecting to your body, I invite you to think of something right now in this moment that is bothering you. It could be something small like traffic on my way to work this morning or I overslept and it was really frustrating or maybe it’s something a little bit bigger.

 

Zach: Christmas shopping that I haven’t done yet, how about that?

 

Cassie: That’s perfect. You haven’t done your shopping and you are freaking out about the fact that Christmas is only a week and a half away, which I think we all kind of empathize with. I know I do.

 

As you’re sitting there present in your body and you’re thinking about everything that you have to do, notice where you show the most energy or tension in your body and just really connect with that. As you’re connecting with that feeling in your body, give that feeling a rating on a scale from one to ten where one is the least amount of feeling and ten is the most disturbed, overwhelming feeling.

 

Zach: I would have said a week ago, I would probably have been at about a five, which is pretty doable but now as we are 12 days away, probably more like a seven, closer to an eight at this point.

 

Cassie: Yes, yes. Notice that seven or eight feeling in your body, it’s keeping your head straight. I just invite you to allow your eyes to move all the way to the right where you’re looking to your right as far as it’s comfortable. Just rest your eyes there for a moment and notice that feeling in your body when you’re resting your eyes there.

 

Very slowly bring your eyes to the middle where you’re looking straight ahead noticing any changes in that feeling.

 

Zach: I definitely felt some more tension when I did that.

 

Cassie: Yes.  Now just moving all the way to the left, just your eyes where you’re looking off to your left noticing the feeling there and any changes.

 

Zach: Yes, yes. It’s becoming more…

 

Cassie: More? More intense on the left?

 

Zach: Yes, yes, almost like I need to get off this podcast like right now and then just go to the store.

 

Cassie: Oh, yes. That jumping-out-of-your-skin sort of feeling?

 

Zach: Yes.

 

Cassie: Yes, yes. That is indicating to us that over in that area, that’s where we need to be working. For here what we would do if you were sitting in my office is I would have my pointer and I would bring it to the left and very slowly we would just start to move it left and right but over in that area where you’re looking. We wouldn’t go all the way to the middle or all the way to the right.

 

We’re going to stay in that kind of zone where very, very slowly we move back and forth and see if we can find the most intense part. We might even go up and down a little bit and just see if it changes a bit, gets more intense or less intense. Right?

 

We’re just looking for that kind of, “Okay. Whoof. I’m really uncomfortable.” I hear people say things like, “I really don’t like this right now. I kind of want to run out of this room right now.” It’s like, “Fantastic! Let’s stay there. Let’s stay there and let’s see what happens. Trust your body. Notice the feeling and see where it goes.”

 

Zach: Yes, it’s interesting. You’d say looking up and looking down because I was looking to the left, looking up and it got a little bit better but then when I looked down it definitely felt compounded, like worse. Down and to the left for me is where I think the energy for me is definitely carrying the most weight.

 

Cassie: Yes, that’s interesting. It’s good to know and that is your body, your mind’s innate capacity to recognize and to access those feelings and we can work with that. What we would do then is we would just stay in that and ride that out in whatever that looks like.

 

At the end of the session, we’re going to check back in and almost always if you know the work to do, 40 minutes of just staying in that spot that’s on your left side and down a little bit and you’re working with all of those feelings that come up, at the end I would say, “Okay. That feeling in your body that was a seven or eight, how strong is that feeling now?” More than likely, it’s going to decrease.

 

Zach: Got it. Wow. Whoa. Thank you for that, Cassie.

 

Cassie: Yes.

 

Zach: Just kind of wiggling my fingers and toes, just to…

 

Cassie: Bring it back.

 

Zach: Yes, bring it back. How many sessions, I know this is case-by-case but typically, how many sessions would a patient complete? I’m sure it’s usually a part of the bigger treatment plan, right?

 

Cassie: Yes, typically. Again, it’s so person-centered. It really just depends on that person’s wants and needs and what their specific goals of treatment are. Our first story flow, we talked about the guy who played for the Mets, three extended sessions and his treatment was done.

 

There are kinds of cases where somebody goes to therapy to physically [Inaudible][29:57] and after one to three sessions, they feel like they’ve got what they needed out of it. I have no personal experience of that yet, but I’m using it with people who I’ve actively been working with for a while.

 

In my practice I typically use it when there’s an issue that my person feels like we just keep coming back to or we’re on a loop or we’re like there’s a hamster wheel happening. We talk about the hamster wheel. In that case, Brainspotting is going to be one of the interventions and maybe we’re doing some talk therapy, too. Maybe we’re doing some motivational interviewing. Maybe we’re doing some music therapy. Maybe we’re doing some other forms of mindfulness in our sessions.

 

That’s what’s cool about it is that it’s just you want to drive in and it can be integrated into everything else that we’re already kind of organically hearing.

 

Zach: Good stuff. In a nutshell, so to speak, how does this compare to EMDR?

 

Cassie: I would say EMDR uses a specific set of procedures that include bilateral stimulations so eye movement, tapping, whatever to access information that’s stored in our brain and it’s more structured than Brainspotting which again, has that client focus on a more specific spot and is more fluid than EMDR.

 

There are similarities in the idea that constructurally and again, Brainspotting was born out of EMDR, but they’re very different in that one is going to be much more structured. You do this and then you do this and then you do this and then your treatment is done whereas in Brainspotting it’s more like we’re just going to kind of flow with it.

 

We do use the same concept of how it goes. We use the same concept to start the bilateral stimulation. We use what’s called bilateral sounds. I have a CD and a Walkman that I let my clients use during sessions. They put the headphones on and the CD has…some of it’s music but a lot of it is just like nature sounds like the ocean. There’s a storm. There’s a creek.

 

The sounds are moving on a rhythm from one earphone to the other. They’re getting that bilateral stimulation while we’re staying in that visual fixed spot. Does that make sense?

 

Zach: Yes, yes. It does. Just switching gears a little bit, does Brainspotting work well for dual diagnosis patients?

 

Cassie: Totally, yes. Definitely. I have actually used Brainspotting with several clients who have been dual diagnosed. It’s really cool because it’s such a flexible and intuitive treatment. We can explore traumas and cognitions and resentment and resistance. You can use it to explore resistance. I use it a lot with willingness and especially willingness to relinquish that sense of power and control that we all want to find in our daily lives.

 

Yes. Just last week, in any person regardless of whether they have the mental illness without the substance user, whatever the case may be, you’re really treating the person. You’re treating their experiences. You’re treating whatever it is that’s keeping them from living their best life and functioning optimally.

 

With Brainspotting, you’re not going to say, “Okay. Today we’re going to focus on the substance abuse,” or “Today we’re going to focus on what is it that we’re trying to explore. Where is it that you feel stuck? Where does it hurt? Let’s work with that.”

 

Zach: That’s fantastic. The biggest thing that I’m taking away at least with Brainspotting compared to other, well, skipping on the EMDR is that there’s more flexibility.

 

Cassie: Yes. I would say that’s fair.

 

Zach: What are some of the biggest strengths of Brainspotting over other treatment methods though? EMDR side, I guess.

 

Cassie: Yes, definitely. Part of being a therapist is finding different treatment modalities that are first and foremost evidence-based and also that feel authentic and effective. Brainspotting is evidence-based. There’s quite a bit of literature already even though it’s a relatively young process. There are several studies in progress now that speaks with efficacy. It works. It works well and for a lot of folks it works pretty quickly.

 

I would say a big strength of Brainspotting is that the eyes have a direct relationship with the brain. We now know that this relationship works both ways. What I mean by that is when we are scanning our external environment for information, we are also internally tapping into our thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and memories that provide our interpretations of whatever we’re visually experiencing. Right?

 

The main reason why Brainspotting works is because beyond finding an eye position that accesses our healing capacity; we’re also leaning heavily on that dual attunement that we talked about earlier. It’s that container that’s holding in everything that’s happening internally and just really allowing for those processes to happen and for that person to move through.

 

Zach: Are you ever hesitant to work with people doing Brainspotting on people who are suicidal or just maybe higher risk? Maybe not in the suicidal but just some of the behaviors that put them at risk and thinking about people who have severe panic disorders, things like that. How do you judge when it’s time to kind of back off?

 

Cassie: No, I’m not hesitant at all with those people, but I’m going to use a different model. What we’ve been talking about and what we practiced earlier was a form of Brainspotting that we would call inside window which is where the person is feeling that higher activation and that’s the spot that we’re working with.

 

There’s also outside window which is where I am from the outside looking for those reflexes that tell me where the most movement is happening and then there’s a model called resourcing. With people who are in a very, I guess I would say a more fragile kind of mental place I’m going to do resourcing with them.

 

In contrast to finding a point of activation and then going, as we said earlier, straight up the mountain from that spot, I’m going to help that person try to place some grounded-ness and calm in their body and we’re going to focus on that place so whatever it is that we’re working with, we’re working with the same issue but we’re doing it from a place of calm and relaxation versus a place of more activation.

 

Zach: Got it.

 

Cassie: It’s, again, it’s interesting and just knowing that there are different ways that this concept, this intervention can be applied. It’s knowing your folks. It’s knowing your clients.

 

Zach: Yes. As far as critiques though of Brainspotting, what are they if there are any?

 

Cassie: The main one is just because it’s young because it’s new. David Grant discovered Brainspotting in 2003. There’s less research that’s available than a lot of others… about the EMDR. That was discovered in 1987. We’re talking about a significant…That’s really the main critique is just that there wasn’t as much evidence and there’s not as much longevity to the evidence, the research that we have now as with other forms.

 

I would say this; the research that is available is pretty incredible. For example, Brainspotting was actually found to be the most effective mode of treatment that was used with Sandy Hook survivors after the 2012 shooting. That was when they compared it with several other treatments including trauma-focused TBT, EMDR, and exposure therapy. That’s one particular study.

 

Zach: With some heavy-duty stuff? Yes.

 

Cassie: Right, right, exactly. When we’re talking about a less, I guess latently traumatic situation, a longer-term study that I did to you, they compared Brainspotting with EMDR and TBT. These people received the same length of treatment, the same duration of treatment but the form of treatment they received differed.

 

When six months of treatment ended, people who have received TBT had decreased results from when treatment had ended. People who received EMDR stayed the same. People who received Brainspotting actually continued to experience improvements and were in a better state than they were when their treatment ended. I felt that was pretty cool also, definitely very much supports this as an effective tool.

 

Zach: That’s fantastic. How do you find someone who is qualified to do this form of treatment? What should people look for?

 

Cassie: Yes. There are a lot of people that are finding therapists online. Most of these bios are going to talk about the different forms of treatment that they use. If someone is using Brainspotting, they’re probably going to list it on their website. Psychology Today has the option of showing Brainspotting as a treatment method. I know on my Psychology Today profile, you can look at the forms of treatment that I use and it will show Brainspotting.

 

There’s also a website. It’s brainspotting.com. You can go there and you can get actually lots of information about Brainspotting. They’ve got videos. They’ve got a ton of information. They have a spot where it’s the therapist, you can search for therapists within a certain zip code but I don’t know how updated that is because I’m not on there yet and there are individuals who are in my practice who offer Brainspotting are also not listed yet.

 

I would say when in doubt, just call. Call or e-mail the person that you’re interested and ask. Ask what we offer. I have people reach out to me all the time and ask, “Are you trained in this? Do you know anything about that?” I am more than happy, most of us are going to be more than happy to reply and let you know what we can do and how we can help you.

 

If somebody e-mails me and they want EMDR and that’s not something I can provide then I’m also going to say, “Hey, I know this person who does.” Be bold. Be bold and advocate and ask the questions to get the help that you need.

 

Zach: On that note, I think that will be the final word. Be bold. I do like to plug people who are doing good work in this community. If you are interested in what Bridge Counseling and Wellness is doing, check them out at bridgemindbody.com where they are bridging the gap between mind and body.

 

Cassie, I just want to thank you for your time today and for speaking to us about…

 

Cassie: Definitely.

 

Zach: About Brainspotting. I will also say if you know someone struggling with an addiction and are searching for answers, subscribe and tune in to Recovery Radio each week for the most up-to-date information from leading experts like Cassie Baker. You can listen to Recovery Radio wherever you get your podcast.

 

Before I sign off, if you’re looking for in-patient or out-patient drug or alcohol rehab, visit landmarkrecovery.com to learn about their substance abuse programs that are saving lives and empowering families.

 

Until next week, I’m Zach Crouch with Cassie Baker signing off for Recovery Radio wishing you well.

 

Cassie: Thank you so much.

 

Zach: Thank you.

 

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