By Jennifer Delaney, MA, NCC


It was a pleasure speaking at the last brown bag lunch. RMBI members form a friendly and supportive group. In the following article, I summarize the benefits of a practice of presence, and I offer exercises to use as resource tools throughout the week.

Echoing Dr. Bob Scaer’s words in The Body Bears the Burden, Dr. Grand encourages us to remind clients that trauma reactions are physiological and not psychological. When they react rather than respond, there is no point in blaming themselves. Compassion is imperative to heal as clients recognize their programmed triggers, and then, we can teach them body-centered exercises for support as they come into deeper awareness of the emotions being held in their bodily, as well as the resulting “feelings.”

Continue reading Body-Centered Tools to Support Brainspotting and Other Modalities

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Mark your calendar. RMBI member Jen Delaney, MA, NCC, will be the presenter at out next brown bag lunch. A somatic specialist, Jen will be teaching us a number of “Body-Centered Exercises to Support Brainspotting.” Jenheadshot5-2015-300x300

When: October 9, 2015. 12 noon – 1:30pm (approx one hour presentation followed by networking)

Where: 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: Space is limited to 30, so email Ruth to reserve your spot.

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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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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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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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