By Jennifer Delaney, MA, NCCJenheadshot5-2015-300x300

The other day a friend was battling a migraine. She had been in the midst of some serious negotiations at work, and remarked, “It’s all coming to a head.”

“To your head?” I reflected.

She laughed. “Evidently!”

It is clear to many clinicians that bodies take the brunt of our inability to process stress and underlying emotions, especially anger and anxiety. Instead of numbing feelings with some substance, pill or comfort food, it’s always more beneficial to learn new ways to acknowledge and release emotions so that we don’t contract an array of physical ailments that cause chronic pain as well as addictions.

According to the Psychology Today website, “Some 30 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain.” New paradigms of pain, such as neuromatrix, nerve sensitivity, endocrine and immune responses to pain, neuroplasticity, as well as cognitive and emotional influences are all part of the recent academic conversation exploring this complex phenomenon. Continue reading Brainspotting and Chronic Pain: Physiological Messages

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At RMBI’s upcoming brown bag in August, Wendy Conquest, LPC, MA, CSAT, presents on sex and porn addiction and the spouses’/partners’ trauma.  She is the author of Letters To A Sex Addict: The Journey Through Grief and Betrayal and has presented nationally over the last five years.  Brainspotting is a powerful tool with these two populations.  Wendy will offer complimentary models to assist and carefully target the Brainspotting course of treatment.  Join us for this intriguing, evolving and controversial field treating sexual infidelity and the resulting complex PTSD for partners.  Wendy Conquest

Learn more about Wendy, her approach, and her book at her web site.


Time: August 7 at 12 noon – 1:30pm  (hour presentation plus networking time for those who want to stay and mingle)

Location: InCahoots Meeting Place, 4800 Baseline Rd, Suite A-112. This is in the Meadows Shopping Center at Baseline Rd and Foothills Pkwy, Boulder. The meeting space is located in the breezeway west of Michael’s and the Chinese restaurant. Look for the white flag.

Cost: Free for RMBI members; $15 for non-members.

RSVP: Please email us to reserve your spot.


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By Dr. Melanie Young


“Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A,B,C. “ (singing from Sound of Music…).


Melanie Young

When you spot you begin with three pillars: gazespotting, inside and outside window spotting. Everything else gets built from this. There is evolution in most types of treatment (at least we hope there is). This is true with brainspotting. There are wording changes. For example, we used to call a brainspot a “distress spot,” then an “activation spot,” and now David Grand sometimes calls it “the access spot.” Activation at the spot gives us access to what we want to work on. There are logistical and organizational changes in brainspotting as well.

There’s more articulation of activation and resource models. Activation is where the client holds activation in the body and finds the brainspot that matches that activation. The activation model is actually considered a resource model because it is done with relational attunement. One way to Resource is to find a body resource spot which is paired with the resource eye. However, most can handle more activation than we may believe, and when the process plateaus, that’s where the healing can happen.

There is more emphasis on the brain based model as we learn more. (My brain model Alaine brain was introduced). Brainspotting appears to access the sub- cortex including the right brain, limbic system, and the brainstem. According to Corrigan and Grand, brainspotting is a neurological resource as it provides an attuned, focused, framed, accessing anchor to the midbrain and is grounded in the body. The sub-cortex is much faster than the neo-cortex, which is so complex, it sacrifices speed for higher performance. Brainspotting >> sub-cortex. Therapists intervening >> neo-cortex!

There is more talk about neuroplasticity (Norman Doidge) and how it applies to Brainspotting and healing. “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” (Donald Hebb)

The trauma capsule theory was developed by Dr. Robert Scaer. It’s also known as the dissociative capsule. Trauma can overwhelm the brain’s processing which leaves pieces of the unprocessed experience frozen in time or space (or even lost).

Unprocessed traumas are held in capsule form in the brain. A brainspot is believed to be an eye position that correlates with a physiological capsule that holds the traumatic experience in memory form. Corrigan talks about visual fields, and how visual information gets direct access to the midbrain. We appear to use orienting mechanisms in the brain to find the trauma capsules. Brainspotting turns the brain’s search/scan system back on its self to locate the trauma. Dr. Grand theorizes that brainspotting taps into and harnesses the brain/body self scanning to locate, hold in place, process and release focused areas that are in a maladaptive homeostasis i.e. frozen in primitive survival mode. Dr. Grand continues to emphasize less talking and intervention. “Less equals more.” There is more emphasis on the Uncertainty principle by Heisenberg. We are sitting with the client in a state of uncertainty 100% of the time. We’re in trouble when we think we know. David talks about wait, wait, and wait some more when wanting to intervene. You can’t heal the sub-cortical with neo-cortical intervention. It goes back to the idea of following the client. We are the tail of the comet following the head (client) when working in treatment.

Brainspotting constructs a frame around the client, relationally and neurobiologically. This is the definition of dual attunement. With the resource model, the therapist makes the container smaller temporarily. The frame holds the client and focuses them. It enables them to go into a state of optimal processing. However, therapists may jump in too quickly with resources, including with clients who suffer from very complex PTSD.

David Grand has expanded on the window of tolerance concept. (see John Briere and Dan Siegal)


Simple PTSD

Single event/1-2 trauma


 Complex PTSD

Childhood or protracted combat


 Very Complex PTSD

Close to being outside the window of tolerance but you can still use traditional brainspotting




Extremely Complex PTSD (DID and severe attachment disorders) is outside the window of tolerance and requires both a modified and expanded BSP resource model. The attuned presence of the therapist is the core of the advanced resource model, according to Dr. Grand.

Dr. Grand’s third day of his phase one training is focused on working with severe attachment disorders and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

Subcortical countertransference can be induced in the therapist by exposure to the client’s severe trauma material. This may activate the therapist’s own trauma triggers. The therapist may experience flight, flight, or freeze reactions. Flight is our impulse to create distance from the client. Freeze can be the dorsal vagal collapse or the therapist’s extreme sense of somatic helplessness and inability to think. Fight is the therapist’s vulnerability to struggle with the client especially, with aggressive altars. A triggered therapist is likely to intervene too quickly and too frequently. Dr Grand stated that the key piece is to know it, be aware, and not overcompensate out of anxiety. For the therapist to sit in a tuned, empathic presence is the ultimate antidote!

Many DID clients can be trapped in a 24 hour flashback which is usually somatic. These clients typically have little capacity to sleep. One of the first, primary goals is to establish reestablish sleep and establish islands where there are no flashbacks.

The most powerful brainspot for clients with DID is the eye contact spot. This can be the ultimate healing aspect of the attuned presence. It is done spontaneously and in silence. It is important to be mindful of how and when your client is looking at you, and when they do, engage back with them. Let them choose what’s comfortable -for example how close or how far away.

A client in flashback will often look off in a particular direction when they go into flashback. Point this out to them. For example, I see you were looking in such and such a direction. Is it okay if I position myself there? Look right at their face. You want them to see you. When you’re in their flashback, they can begin to feel you there, and see that they are not alone. It can help them to see somebody who’s not the perpetrator. Aligning our face where the client gazes can help imprint a new image onto the flashback.

Most of this new material on Brainspotting can be found in David Grand’s new three day level 1 Brainspotting training if you are interested!

This material was originally presented in a RMBI brown bag lunch seminar earlier in 2015.

Melanie K. Young, PSYD
(303) 444-5330



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We are pleased to announce that Dr. David Grand will be giving a public lecture on June 4th in Boulder. RMBI will be hosting the event. Dr. Grand will be speaking on his “Advanced resource model of brain spotting.” The event is free for RMBI members, but you must RSVP to hold your place. Space is limited.

WhenJune 4, 7 – 9 pm

Where:  Nalandabodhi Center, 100 Arapahoe Ave, Suite 6, Boulder, CO 80302

Cost: $15 in advance, $25 at the door. FREE for RMBI members. RMBI members must RSVP by email Ruth to let her know you are coming. Space is limited.

Non-members can register online here.


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Join Jen Delaney for a presentation at Realities for Children on April 17. Jen is a Somatic Specialist and Registered Psychotherapist and also a member of RMBI’s Steering Committee. She will be explaining why somatic psychotherapies such as Brainspotting and Somatic Experiencing are so effective. The talk is presented by Pursuits Coaching and Wellness Network. See the attached flyer for more details.

When:  April 17, 8-9:30am

Where:  3980 Broadway, #203, Boulder, CO 80304

Cost: $15

Register online here.



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By Dr. Drew Brazier


Life is not so much about what you can lose. It is about what you can gain! If this is true, how does that fit with weight loss, dieting, and overall nutrition? A healthy lifestyle has nothing to do with dieting or cutting out everything you enjoy. As a human being who lost 160lbs, I learned that obtaining and MAINTAINING a healthy life was about finding what I needed to GAIN. In other words, I had to discover what my body was missing and that is how I lost weight and more importantly created a healthy lifestyle. During my journey I had to overcome barriers and specific traumas related to food and nutrition. These same challenges are what our clients are facing: Trauma related to food, trauma related to weight, and trauma related confidence. Our clients face multiple barriers, including not understanding what their bodies are missing.

Let me share some thoughts on what a psychotherapist can do to help. First, I should say that I am also a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist; however, specific food recommendations do not really come on to the scene until a client has worked through other dynamics. So, where do we start?

(Though I discuss these ideas in phases, it’s with the clear knowledge that this process is NOT linear. Yet this is a good way to understand how to help a client build a healthy lifestyle. We must remember that each client will be at a different spot, so meet them where they are.)

Phase I

If you are going to pretend to know what your body needs and does not need, do you suspect you might want to learn some about your body? I hope your answer is YES!! In order to accomplish this, we can teach Mindful Eating principles to our clients. Did you know we only have taste buds on our tongues? So why do we take huge bites if we can only taste a small portion of what we manage to squeeze in our mouths? Part of mindful eating practice involves taking small bites, putting the utensil down while eating, sitting down to eat, turning off media, and noticing every little flavor.

The next step is learning not just what your mouth and brain like to consume, but what does your body like? Can you answer what fuel your body truly likes to run on? How do you know if you don’t pay attention to how you feel during the hours after you eat/drink? The first couple of weeks of working together, I encourage clients to write down what they eat, when they eat it, how their body felt, and their mood. Notice that I do not ask them to write calories. Calorie counting is not what we are doing. We are not figuring out what to cut out, as that will happen naturally. We are trying to figure out what to get IN!! The approach is experiential. The goal is to learn what works best for people. Furthermore, I have seen people who have experienced vivid memories related to a big trauma that was connected to certain foods. That can be tricky, but how do you find out about that if you are not paying attention?

As this first phase of treatment progresses clients will already start making adjustments and becoming more aware of what they need to change. The next phase will help amplify this progress.

Phase 2

Eating garbage that does nothing good for you can be brought about because of stress, trauma, or a million other reasons. I argue that there is always some internal or external trigger as to why one would comfort him/herself with bad food. Interestingly, research demonstrates that 80% of dieting fails because of “stress.” But the dieting research never really examines the nature of that stress and what can we do about it. Instead, they simply push dieting recommendations harder. We need to change this.

We encourage clients to take a week or two to take notes about what internal/external triggers lead to eating undesired amounts at undesired times. We also encourage clients to identify trigger foods, which means gaining an understanding of what food leads to more poor choices. Just because a client made one poor choice does not mean they are doomed to continue in a downward spiral. In a healthy lifestyle there is no such thing as a “cheat day” or a “cheat meal.” Instead, we work towards understanding how even traditionally unhealthy food can be a part of the nutrition plan. The first step is becoming aware of triggers and trigger foods.

Phase 3

Again, phase three could actually be addressed in the first session – it all depends on where the client is in their lifestyle change. I will not cover all the different Brainspotting specific techniques that I have discovered to be helpful, but I will offer a few main ideas.

I like to use Convergence Therapy Technique when a client is struggling with a specific trigger food that leads to consuming other unhealthy foods/drinks. I will have the client hold the pointer for 3-5 minutes after bringing awareness to where they feel it in their body, when noticing the idea of the trigger food. Often times, I will repeat this with a client and they will begin to become less activated when shifting awareness to a trigger food. I will then ask the client to do the convergence technique while asking what the body is really wanting/ needing. I will do this technique with any trigger food.

I like to understand when and where someone first experienced trauma related to food and/or weight. This could happen when a friend, bully, or loved one made a comment about their weight or told them that they shouldn’t eat something. Trauma also often happens when someone tells the client they will not be able to achieve their weight-related goals. I have also seen clients dealing with the statement that “this is just how our family is,” which as Dr. Ruby Gibson teaches, could go back several generations. Dr. Gibson teaches that we are impacted nutritionally for several generations. Exploring the client’s ancestors’ dietary patterns and other traumas can help bring to light the trauma related to the client not being able sustain a healthy lifestyle despite having tried so many diets.

Once a client is able to identify a weight-related trauma, Brainspotting techniques can be used. Specifically, I have found that rolling brainspotting is very helpful when processing these traumas. Why that is most effective, I am unaware at this point. I can simply say I have observed this to be the most effective approach.

There are many more techniques that I can share at a later time. Nonetheless, no matter what techniques I use I always make sure that similar to squeezing the lemon part of brainspotting is focused more on identifying what the body does need. It might take time for the client to become aware of this. However, where dieticians and nutritionists get it all wrong is in giving many recommendations when the body is trying to tell a client specifically what it needs. Of course, some psycho-nutritional education can be helpful, but the body will tell us what it needs if we but clear the space and listen.

In subsequent posts I will discuss how I address epigenetics, microwaves, artificial sweeteners and other sugars, cellular vitality, hormones, GMOs, and Adrenal Fatigue. There is so much more to using this model for weight loss. I have seen many of clients, myself included, flourish and SUSTAIN wonderful results. I share these ideas with hope that other Brainspotting therapists will experiment and share what they find successful. I would love to speak more with anyone at great depth about anything discussed in this post!

Wishing you the best health!

Dr Drew Brazier
Optimal Solutions Colorado


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Dr. David Grand will be in Colorado this summer to teach a Brainspotting Master Class. This is the inaugural training for the Brainspotting Master Class, given for the first time in the world in Boulder, CO!

David Grand BrainspottingThe Master Class is an opportunity for Brainspotting therapists to learn Brainspotting the way David Grand uses it in his office. The teaching opportunities are designed to make available the open, integrative, free-form approach for use with clients in all diagnostic categories, including Dissociative and Attachment Disorders. The format will include multiple demonstrations with attendees, role playing of working with challenging cases brought in by attendees and presentation of the newest Brainspotting innovations with lively and open Q and A. This mode of learning directly with David, has only been available to date in the Intensives he conducts which are restricted to 10 participants.

This 3 day Master Class provides the opportunity for expanded groups to study the most advanced, creative clinical applications of Brainspotting. Minimum requirement for attendance is Brainspotting Phase 1 plus 50 hours of practice. Phase 2 and 3 recommended for attendance.

When: June 5-7, 2015.

Where: Millenium Harvest House,1345 28th St
Boulder, CO 80302 

Cost: Early  registration is $695. Standard $745. Late registration $795.

Early registration ends April 18, 2015. Standard registration ends May 16, 2015. Late registration ends June 05, 2015.

RMBI members will receive $50.00 off the cost of the class.

IN ORDER TO RECEIVE THE DISCOUNT, YOU MUST REGISTER BY PHONE. Please call Laurie Delaney, Dr Grand’s Assistant, and let her know you are an RMBI member: tel:516-826-7996. If you are not an RMBI member, register through Dr Grand’s website.

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Melanie Young, PsyD, will present at the next Brown Bag Lunch on Friday, April 24, 2015. Her topic is “What’s New in Brainspotting.”

Dr. Melanie Young has been in private practice for over 20 years.  She provides a warm and supportive environment for adolescents and adults.  She aids individuals in overcoming depression, mood swings, anxiety and anger. She facilitates healing from emotional, physical, and sexual trauma.   She assists individuals and couples with relationships, marital and divorce issues, losses and grief.  Dr. Young helps navigate the challenges around brain trauma, pain, illness, phobias and addictions.  Specialties also include working with seniors, their families and caregivers.  She also uses Brainspotting as a tool to increase effective coping strategies, strengthen internal resources, enhance performance.  Dr. Young is a certified Brainspotting therapist and facilitates Brainspotting consultation groups for psychotherapists.  She is also available for individual consultation.  Dr. Young is a national Brainspotting trainer in training and is vice president on the steering committee for Rocky Mountain Brainspotting Institute.


Time: April 24 at 12 noon

Location: InCahoots Meeting Place, 4800 Baseline Rd, Suite A-112. This is in the Meadows Shopping Center at Baseline Rd and Foothills Pkwy, Boulder. The meeting space is located in the breezeway west of Michael’s and the Chinese restaurant. Look for the white flag.

Cost: Free for RMBI members; $15 for non-members.

RSVP: Please email us to reserve your spot.


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Inside window:

Activate issue

locate in body


find BSP using pointer. Go slowly

move pointer up then down. This is the Y-axis. (eye level is x-axis. Horizontal)

client: I’m 62 and I’ve been single for 14 years and I see red flags all over the place (with dates). I became invisible about 5 years ago.

Pie: what do you see in the red flags? tell me more about being invisible

client: I remember the day I realized I was invisible. I was at a bar eating and no one looked at me. All these younger women were all around me and even the bartender didn’t notice me. I’ve grieved being older and I am happy with my own company more and more but I haven’t given up on love.

Pie: you’re still out there looking for love and connection but you see the red flags and you also feel invisible.

Client: I am afraid of being trapped in something awful.

Pie: what comes up around fear of being trapped in a bad relationship?

Client: I’d rather be single

Pie: even as you’re talking, do you notice anything going on in your body?

Client: Yes, I got a feeling in my solar plexus. (becomes teary) I don’t have time to make a mistake.

Pie: let’s go with that fear of making a mistake. What do you notice when you do a body scan?

Client: it makes me breathless. (hand is on heart)

Pie: What are you noticing now in your body? Any emotion connected to that feeling in body? SUDS?

Open your eyes when you’re ready. Follow the pointer- where are you most activated in your body? Let’s get specific to fine tune the exact spot. SUDS? Move it up. More or less activated? Move it down. More/ less?

Keep your eyes there so I can move my chair and get comfortable and redirect me to your spot.

When you think about your fear of making a mistake, just see where it goes.

Client: I haven’t known how to end my relationships. I’ve stayed too long. My life is being sucked out of me.

I didn’t step up with XX b/c I didn’t want to be the initiator.

Pie: notice what’s happening in your body. Check in: what keeps you stuck? See where it goes.

Client: I want a match, someone like me and already whole and who still has dreams and interests and aliveness.

Pie: just allow yourself to be with that sadness. Just check in with yourself about that.

Client: All those times my father tried to hold me back…

Pie: just let it happen. Feel that sensation of pushing him/them away. Let your body do that pushing away. What do you notice in your body?

Client: a ring of fire image just came up.

Pie: As you feel that image around you, what do you notice?

Client: A fireman with gear & an ax just came through. He’s all sooty and sweaty and I’m all wet from the fire hose.

Pie: Let it happen, notice what’s he doing with his gear/ax.

Client: It’s about time! What took you so long?! He says stop being difficult. I’m not! I was not protected as a kid.

Pie: you have some protection now.

Client: I’ve developed it. I want to trust it w/o waiting for perfect. I want someone to try, someone who’s willing to risk and wants to grow. It feels good it’s not a bad thing to be me, to be discerning.

Pie: feel that sensation

client: it’s a relief to stop making myself wrong. I’m going to stay with my belief that I’ll find someone to grow with some day. A lot of grief is coming up.

Pie: Just let that happen…what does it feel like to say out loud “it’s not too late”. Let yourself feel that little girl inside who’s still alive and hopeful

client: I feel hopeful. I am visible to the right person!

Pie: Feel that feeling of being visible to the right person. (install that image)

client: A picture came to me of me doing a TED talk and being really visible

Pie: see where that goes.

Client: Some one is celebrating me rather than shutting me down and I want to also celebrate that person too. I feel expansive, peace. I can trust that knowing it’s real. I can feel it in myself. It’s real! And that feels good.

Pie: feel that in your body. What do you notice in that deep breath you just took?

Client: Not everyone has to get me. It’s good. I feel tired and I’ve landed on a truth. If I could just stay grounded in that truth, that makes me available.

Pie: go within and see if there’s a mantra about that. That it’s all yours and be open to that.

“love is real” say it out loud 3 times. What do you notice in your body?

Client: My lower back has huge energy. It’s an amazing truth for me.

Pie: Give yourself permission to stay with that truth, that mantra. Love is real.

Client: Love has my back. Love is real. It’s my protection, my ring of fire.

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Tami Simon speaks with Dr. David Grand, a pioneering psychotherapist, lecturer, and performance coach. Dr. Grand is best known for his discovering of the internationally-acclaimed therapy called Brainspotting. He’s the author of the book Emotional Healing at Warp Speed, and his new book called Brainspotting: A Revolutionary New Therapy for Rapid and Effective Change will be released with Sounds True in the spring. In this episode, Tami speaks with David about what Brainspotting is and why it represents a new evolution in brain-based therapy. Dr. Grand reveals the central insight of Brainspotting—that where you look affects how you feel—and offers a simple practice that you can try right now. (60 minutes) Click here.

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The Rocky Mountain Brainspotting Institute (RMBI) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that was created to promote and advance the use of Brainspotting, an emerging new treatment in psychotherapy.

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