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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By Monika Baumann, with Marie-Jose Boon, Monika Gos, Mark Grixti, Patricia Jacob, and Martha Jacobi

 

Recently I was deeply touched by an 11- year- old young girl, asking me if I could help her to get rid of her stuttering.

I applied Brainspotting and she shared special moments of her life with me.

While she was processing–very profoundly–her tears dropped slowly, heavily, and silently on my office floor – the tissue she used got soaked! I witnessed her face changing… relaxing. Her body sensation, of having a tight band around her neck, slowly disappeared. She was relieved!

Still the girl could not take her eyes off the little “King” finger-puppet, whom she chose to be her assistant. It became like a magnet for her gaze. I somehow felt, just to be silent….. Tears again– but they were different tears. This time running quickly down her chest, and then a Whisper, “I´m so happy – so deeply happy!”

My therapeutic feeling for her tears at this moment was: “What a gift.“

 

Last fall I asked therapists from various groups to share their experiences with Brainspotting for young people. Martha from New York, Marie José from Amsterdam, Monika originally from Poland, Patricia from Brasil, and Mark from Great Britain povided their time and experience while Skyping with me. A big thank you to them.

I asked five questions, which I will first answer describing the above case from a therapeutic point of view, followed by discussions about Brainspotting with young people.

Case Discussion:

1) Do we need to prepare our young patients?

Some days ago an 11 year old girl came into my office to Brainspot her stuttering. This girl is definitely a very bright young lady and so far, she had never stuttered in front of me. But, she said, she often stuttered in school or at home – especially when she was arguing with one of her siblings.

Having a very smart, wonderful young lady in front of me motivated me to explain how her brain could help the Brainspotting process. She basically understood the neurological background of Brainspotting, before we started. I also told her the following fairy tail, to make clear that “kissing the ugly frog“ can mean transforming stuttering into normal fluent language.

…. There once was a princess who was playing with her golden ball …… all of a sudden the ball fell into a deep well, and she wept bitterly. Unexpectedly, an ugly frog emerged from the depths and offered to bring the ball back, on one condition. His condition was, that from then on she had to take him everywhere as a playmate and treat him lovingly. The princess promised everything and the frog brought her the golden ball. Overjoyed, she ran home alone, disobeying her promise. During the family dinner the frog appeared. The princess was frightened and told her father what had happened. He advised and supported her to be loving and respectful with the frog. Although the frog disgusted the princess, she held on to her father’s advice. As soon as she was in her playroom with the frog, he was accepted for the first time. In some versions of the story the frog is kissed by the princess, in other versions he is thrown against the wall. Either way, however, the frog could turn into a prince again, and the two still live together, happily!

With this fairy tale, I gave her the reassurance of knowing that I will be with her whatever may come. (Attunement – Relational and neurobiological frame)

2) How do we use the pointer with young clients? How do we use Inside Window, Outside Window, and Gazespotting with them?

Finding the spot with a finger-puppet on top of the pointer was done in a traditional way. By using the Inside Window, the girl chose a spot in front of her and to her left side.

Motivated by the above story – a finger-puppet frog (that we later changed into a finger- puppet king) was selected and put on the pointer. The girl could clearly define the activation point (Inside Window) which later became a Resource Brainspot, when she changed the frog into a king!

3) How do we find out from young clients about their body activation or body resource, and how do we use the SUDS?

The girl described the feeling of a tight band around her neck (SUDS 9). She kept telling me that the band became steadily looser, and in the end it felt like it had fallen off of her (SUDS 0).

4) Do we use Biolateral Sound with young people?

The girl liked to put on the headphones, with the “Best of Biolateral“ playing, before she found the activation point.

5) What is processing like for young people?

Fixing the Brainspot was also easy for the girl, and her processing was as I described above: deeply emotional. She shared life moments with me, when she felt very impotent. (e.g death in her family, unsolved conflicts…) I could observe her being helpless with her tears dropping silently on the floor and in her very deep way of looking at the pointer.

During these times no one supported her. Being so lost, she started stuttering…..what a feeling of shame – what a feeling of being helpless!

While processing, the girl’s face turned from very sad, with many silent tears, to a relaxed young lady’s face! Sitting near to her, I could see and feel that she was getting released from her tension. She told me, that it seemed like the band around her neck slowly fell off of it. Processing continued. She asked me to change the frog into a king and then kept staring at the same Brainspoint. Finally her words, ” I´m so happy – so deeply happy,” changed it into a Resource Brainspot!

General Discussion of Brainspotting with Kids and Adolescents:

1) Do we need to prepare our young patients?

The emotional part for us as therapists is the trust that young people bring with them. They want to get rid of their symptoms and we are allowed to be creative and find any posible access to start Brainspotting.

In contrast to the case described above, let me share the experience that once our clients trust us, they do not necessarily need an explanation of what will be done!

It depends on the age and development of the clients, and on us as therapists– whether we feel that the frame is well-enough set.

A general observation is, the younger the children are, the less explanation they need. Many kids trust easily and are mostly very brave in processing.

A four year old boy was sitting on his mum’s lap. There was no need at all to explain what will be done, because he was ready to process. His mum described sexual abuse and explained his difficulties since then. He felt so confident, that Brainspotting (Gazespotting) with him happened without any explanation during the talk“.

By the way, sometimes children are overwhelmed by their feelings. A way of keeping them processing, is to explain that these emotions are like waves – coming huge and then drifting away. They can also be told that their brain is very clever and stupid at the same time. Clever because it starts facing horrible thoughts and stupid because it says, “Oh what a a horrible thought – I have to run away….“ So let us help the brain not to be stupid, and to change the horrible thoughts!

Mark from Great Britain wrote a picturebook:“Brainspotting with young people – An adventure into the mind – by Mark Grixti and Illustrated by Rosanna Dean” explaining Brainspotting for kids. He mentioned that he uses it more for the parents than for the young ones.

A form of explanation used successfully is that the pointer shows the direction of the “window” through which they can have access to the forgotten and often painful worlds! By opening this window (looking at it) they can clear those forgotten worlds and make them more cozy and fresh.

Often it is not even planned to use Brainspotting in a session and it just happens. So let me answer the question “Do we need to prepare our young patients?“ with one guiedeline: Kids are so open minded. Whatever we explain or do not explain in advance of using Brainspotting in a session, let us hold the frame around the young people in such a way that they can keep their confidence!

2) How do we use the pointer with young clients? How do we use Inside Window, Outside Window, and Gazespotting with them?

Bainspotting with this age group can be so full of happiness and joy and at the same time full of seriousness.

You may have them lying on the floor, dancing hip hop while focusing on an activation point, seriously sitting in the chair and processing for a long time, drawing pictures (e.g one for the resource point and one for the activation point), using Gazespots or day dreaming while focusing, playing theater, role playing, using the one-eye glasses (giving them the feeling, that they are smart enough to change their symptoms into normal feelings with only one eye), darken the room and let them work with flashlights……and so on, and so on, and so on! Just catch them from where they are and use the Inside or Outside Window, or a Gazespot, as it is appropiate.

Whatever you choose to do, enjoy finding an access to the subcortex!

3) How do we find out from young clients about their body activation or body resource, and how do we use the SUDS?

Young people easily get access to their body feelings (even if they suffered from abuse – which personally surprised me).

Also with adolescents it is observed that they can feel where the body has its resource or activation point. They sometimes need special help because they feel this question to be inapropiate for them or their age. It helps to let them know that “one of my other clients felt a crummy feeling in her stomach when she was thinking about the difficult situation….“

Finding a Body Resource is described as a great help during the therapy, especially when the patients are overwhelmed. Making a “Body Resource gift“ at the end of the Brainspotting process provides a feeling of strength that can always be recalled. “It was so funny, whenever I passed the place where they attacked me, I thought of Mr. Poppy and felt his strength in my arms…..no more worry, that I would be unable to pass.“

There are many ways of offering SUD Scales:

Smilies, playing cards, using our hands as a measure, colours or just the difference between three feelings: really bad – bad – not any more.

“A very scared 8 year old girl was left alone and locked in her room by a babysitter 5 years before the therapy. At the beginning of the therapy she was not able to be by herself or stay at home, even with trusted persons, if they were not in the same room with her.

She drew a picture of her body and pointed to the heart as a body sensation. To express the

intensity of her feelings she chose UNO cards and created a SUD scale across the floor. She processed the trauma several times over various sessions, and always turned the cards face- down when she did not feel the described feeling. After five sessions all of the cards were turned over and her parents could leave her with a responsible caregiver, without her showing any fear if the caregiver was in another room.“

4) Do we use Biolateral Sound with young people?

The Biolateral Sound seems to be very pleasureable to young people They enjoy listening and it gives them a feeling of importance.

“Wow you’ve got blue headphones!“

The music and the reason to use it can be described as a help for our brain, to allow the bad feelings to dissolve: “Did you know,that our brain consists of two parts, and that in reality each part needs the help of the other one? This music, while being louder and then softer on each side, activates the little helper in the brain…..“

When the Brainspotting happens spontaneously, you might not use the Biolateral Sound.

5) What is processing like for young people?

Working with young people is “gift time” for us as therapists. As I described in the case above, this age group so often surprises us.

The innocence, honesty, and/or directness of these clients increases their ways of expressing feelings, sharing their lives with us, and showing emotions for which they have no words. Young people are mostly quicker in processing than adults. With confidence, it can be said that witnessing children’s different ways of processing and healing can motivate us to use Brainspotting creatively with the age group between newborns and approximately sixteen/seventeen-year-olds.

The following two examples are from different therapists, who were surprised by the processing of their clients.

1–A fourteen-year-old girl, very fashionable and cool, who has just had her first bad experience with drugs:

When she found the Brainspot she jumps up in her chair – shouting at me loudly:

“What is that – something happens here – this is spooky!“

I start to explain a little bit while she focuses the pointer. She gets calm and starts telling about her  childhood…..she goes back to the time when she was eight and nobody limited her bad behaviour…..

“Why did they never stop me? At that time my father was still there and nobody ever told me that I was so disrespectful and nasty, and the more they let me do what I wanted, the worse I behaved—-can you imagine, they just didn´t stop me… I think they were afraid of me, is it possible that they were afraid of me?“

2–A seven year old boy suffering from fears:

“We found the Resource Spot, connecting with the sensation of fear and imagining that the little bee (at my pointer) felt the same. I asked him to try to become aware if the fear he felt, was more like if something bad would happen, or a feeling of abandonment, or of being alone and unprotected (he could never answer this before). He promptly answered that it was a sensation of abandonment.

“Just watch what is happening with the little bee and inside of you.” “The bee died.”

“What happened to her?”

“She was born and then died.” “What happened when she was born?”

“I was abandoned. I was born from other parents who had abandoned me. Then my parents who are now my parents got me. But I was abandoned when I was born.”

“So just stay with that idea and notice what else comes up while you look at the bee.” “That’s it.”

“Well, I wonder if this is a feeling that something really bad happened when you were born, that felt as if your parents abandoned you. Remember when we talked with your mother and she told you that she got really sick shortly after you were born and could not take care of you, carry you on her lap and show you love, as you needed? “

“Yes.” (With a sad face)

“Could it be that the baby there inside you still feels abandoned because of it?” “Yes.”

“Can you imagine yourself, explaining to him what happened to your mother, that she is a loving mum now, and is with you when you are afraid, so that he does not need to feel abandoned anymore? “

(He repeated to the baby inside him my words his own way, looking at the pointer)

“So, what happened to him when he heard these words?”

(He became more agitated, distracted for a while, mostly not looking at the pointer, and did not answer)

“Can you now look at the bee again and try to see how baby J is?”

(Spent little time looking at the pointer, talking playfully about the sofa, twisted my pointer he had in his hand (!!!),was distracted, and then stopped)

“He understood. He feels loved now.” (tiny tears in his eyes). “Where do you feel that good feeling of being loved in your body?”

“In my heart” (now quiet, looking at the pointer without distraction)

“So take some time enjoying this good feeling, looking at little bee…” (After a while)

“It’s good. Let’s play now?”

“Yes. But just to finish for today, try to bring back your fear, as we started and see what happens now?”

“Much better. But I still feel that my father doesn’t love me. He must come here too! Shall we play now?

Just to let you know!

We all: Martha, Marie José, Patricia, Monica, Mark and I, feel that it is a special honor to be responsible for this age-group. We work with children who have a huge variety of symptoms: From learning disabilities, to autism, abuse, abandonment, fears, hyperactivity, suffering from disasters, school shootings, etc. etc. None of us  mentioned any difficulties using Brainspotting for a special symptom or therapeutic question.

Reading the cases and thoughts above, you might have realized that working with kids and adolescents is full of creativity and of surprises.

Sometimes they have no words but find great ways of expressing their emotions.

To finish this article let me share with you the WhatsApp message, I recently received from the 11 year old girl who gave up stuttering:

“Hi

It´s me.

You know what!

I´m not stuttering any more!

I´m having great times after your treatment.

 

Monika Baumann is an Austrian psychotherapist currently living in Paraguay. Since 2000 she has had a private practice specializing in working with children. She provides diagnostics and support for children with learning disorders, as well as systemic family therapy with special focus on brainspotting and hypnotherapy. This article was written with input from several other psychotherapists who use brainspotting with children: Marie-Jose Boon, Monika Gos, Mark Grixti, Patricia Jacob, and Martha Jacobi.

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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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Exemple

By Wendy Conquest, MA, LPC, CSAT-S

Wendy ConquestThis blog is based on a recent talk I did for RMBI on sex addiction and resulting spousal trauma. For ease of writing I will be referring to the sex addict (SA) as “him” and the Partner as “her,” however, I see clients along the sexuality spectrum. Most SAs come in after their secret life has been found out. This time is commonly referred to as “Discovery.” There is a lot happening for both the SA and the Partner during this period. The SA experiences shock and stress as his two worlds collide. There is usually some relief that the secret is out. The Partner also experiences shock and disbelief as she finds out her partner has a hidden life. We now know she goes into a freeze response and becomes traumatized on many different levels. We also know he goes into similar shock which can cause denial and minimization with the breadth and length of his behaviors.

I am asked if sex addiction is the same as other addictions such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and gambling. The answer is yes…and no. To qualify as an addiction there are certain criteria that must be met. These include a loss of control, previous attempts to stop, loss of time in the addiction, preoccupation, an inability to fulfill obligations, continuing with the behavior despite negative consequences, an escalation, social, occupational and recreational losses, and withdrawal. The reason sex addiction is different is that you can be angry with your partner if they are drunk every night. And feelings are intense if your home is in jeopardy from a gambling addiction. However, when your loved one chooses someone else to be sexual with (and this includes images as well as real people) there is a sense of rejection, humiliation and shame that is incomparable.

There is a common expectation that when the secret life of the addict is found out the Partner will be surprised or in some sort of shock for a while, but then she will be able to quickly and competently look at her part of the problem. What we are now finding is that the effects on the partner are quite severe, categorized as Complex PTSD. Dr. Omar Minwalla’s article entitled the “Thirteen Dimensions of Sex Addiction-Induced Trauma (SAIT) among Partners and Spouses Impacted by Sex Addiction” explores the many ways Partners are affected, including:

  • Discovery Trauma
  • Disclosure Trauma
  • Reality-Ego Fragmentation
  • Impact to Body and Medical Intersection
  • External Crisis and Destabilization
  • SAIT Hyper vigilance and Re-Experiencing
  • Dynamics of Perpetration, Violation and Abuse (SAIP)
  • Sexual Trauma
  • Gender Wounds and Gender-Based Trauma (GBT)
  • Relational Trauma and Attachment Injuries
  • Family, Communal and Social Injuries
  • Treatment-Induced Trauma
  • Existential and Spiritual Trauma

In my presentation I explained Disclosure Trauma, Sexual Trauma, Treatment-Induced Trauma and Existential Trauma. My intent was to highlight entry points for Brainspotting. I talked about Treatment-Induced trauma since I have many couples coming to me after they have been to other therapists. A common mistake among some couples’ therapists is to treat “an affair” as a one-off without seeking further to see if there is a compulsive pattern around sex and sexuality. As a certified sex addiction therapist, I have clients complete a questionnaire with over 400 questions that compiles the data needed to determine if there is sex addiction (and its extent) as well as to identify attachment style, specific problem areas around the addiction and quantifying motivation for change. This assessment is only available to CSATs, however, I was asked if I would be willing to collaborate with other therapists and the answer is “YES”! What a wonderful idea!

We talked about one event with sex addiction and spousal trauma being multi-pronged. I am finding that I can clear one event, let’s say when the Partner discovers the addiction is one BSP point. But then later another aspect of the discovery will pop up. For example, the spouse may not be confident in knowing her inner voice. The main point is to be aware of the different dimensions that are attached to one trauma, with varying visual points for both the SA and the Partner.

My book, Letters To A Sex Addict: The Journey Through Grief and Betrayal, is available through me directly or Amazon (paperback or Kindle format). The book provides a visceral experience of what the Partner goes through. She may experience isolation, rejection, invalidation from friends and family, church and the culture. Confusion, shame and despair result. I encourage therapists to have the Partner read the book and highlight sections that are applicable to them, and then Brainspot those. Clinicians also have the SA read the book to increase empathy and work on his shame targets. Couples therapists use the book in session as a path to talk about the betrayal. There is a short but thorough explanation of sex addiction in the introduction. If you have any questions after reading the book please e-mail me! This book is the only one I know which accurately reflects all the aspects of the Partner’s experience.

There are a few special considerations in using BSP with the Partner. I start by having them listen to the bilateral sounds and see if they calm down or if their anxiety increases. If anxiety increases, I emphasize somatic pieces to ground them and get them more stable before proceeding with Brainspotting. If they calm down I start with the resource eye on a resource spot. I continually check in with the body, not with their interpretation of whether they are “ok” or feeling “good”. From there I move to different pieces of whatever the current struggle is, whether that be “I hate him touching me” to “I don’t feel safe”. Because the addict usually is learning to distinguish between reality and dishonesty, many times in early recovery he is not yet safe to the Partner. My goal is to help her clear the trauma to get her instincts back on-line.

For the addicts, we go back into their history to find out where the link between safety and sex, acceptance and sex began. This might have involved masturbating to calm down when mom and dad were fighting, or using pornography to calm social anxiety. Perhaps a fetish started with neglect from mom and dad. I want him to know that the addiction is a very old and ineffective coping mechanism and that it is not who he authentically is. Sometimes I will start with more current trauma points such as the addiction being discovered, feelings of worthlessness with causing pain to their partners, or feeling inept in general.

I recently opened The Sex Addiction Counseling Center (SACC) in Boulder. I have two other therapists on my staff and my ambition is to start a program for teens struggling with pornography in 2016. Please visit the web site to learn more!

 

Wendy Conquest. MA, LPC, CSAT-S
Certified in Brainspotting, Integrative Body Psychotherapy and Sex Addiction
2975 Valmont Rd.
Boulder, CO 80301
720.338.7418
wendyconquestlpc @ gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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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…).

RMBI

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
Info@melanieyoungpsyd.com

 

 

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By Dr. Drew Brazier

drew-brazier-portrait-e1412526604513

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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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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