What’s the difference between EMDR and Brainspotting?
*TLDR: In the garden of your mind, talk-therapy is like de-heading all of the weeds in the garden. EMDR is like ripping up the weed, but the stalk breaking off at ground-level; so sure enough it might come back in time, or you otherwise might still just notice that the weed is not fully gone. Brainspotting is like going deep into the ground and ripping out the root of the weed so that it never comes back.
As I’m currently wrapping up completing a Phase 2 training of Brainspotting, I’m sitting and smiling with excitement about what Brainspotting offers to clients – particularly those who have done years of talk-therapy or other “evidence-based” therapies but still have not gotten the relief they are looking for.
You might be asking, “What the heck is Brainspotting?? I’ve never heard of that.” And maybe you’ve already opened another tab, or YouTube to hear someone speak about the difference and see examples of these therapies.
Most people have heard of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and reprocessing) by now, as it’s gotten more popular in some media (like Prince Harry showing his EMDR session on GMA).
If you haven’t, EMDR consists of a set of steps of organizing unwanted versus desired feelings, emotions, and thoughts, and then uses bilateral stimulation (eye movements, alternating tapping, tones or music) to help you effectively work through disturbing memories.
For many people, EMDR has allowed them to experience a significant amount of emotional relief. For others, EMDR might feel overwhelming as it asks you to specifically hold distressing memories or feelings in your mind as you process through them. Further, not feeling emotionally connected and safe with your therapist might hinder your ability to engage in EMDR.
Brainspotting was developed by a practitioner of EMDR who found a more targeted, and deep way to assess underlying layers of trauma and distress. David Grand (the founder of Brainspotting) says “where you look affects how you feel,” and this belief (confirmed by neurobiological research) is highlighted in Brainspotting by the therapist and client finding a fixed eye position that is attached to an unresolved issue.
Brainspotting is referred to as a “resource model,” which means a couple different things.
First, a Brainspotting therapist is trained to highly attune to you as a client, so as to provide you with an emotionally safe and compassionate presence (even in a virtual setting). Brainspotting is highly relational in its nature, whereas some clients might have experienced EMDR as feeling somewhat distanced and disconnected from their therapist.
Second, Brainspotting as a “resource model” is based on the neurobiological and evolutionary truths that all people have an innate capacity to heal themselves. The developer of Brainspotting, in a recent KeyNote presentation, highlighted this concept in a beautifully said (albeit jargon-y) way: “Brainspotting takes the view that the inability to move reflexively from dysregulation to regulation can be found in subcortical dissociative barriers formed during sustained developmental trauma, which are further calcified by repeated, accumulated adult traumas; retraumatizations that reverberate back to the original preverbal, intra-uterine and generational traumas.”
Non-jargon translation: Years and years of messages from others about how we “should” and “shouldn’t” be/do, systemic oppression and -isms, and an overall stigmatization of openly and vulnerably discussing our mental health and needs has led to these innate capacities to heal to be shut off.
But those capacities are still there.
Even if you’ve tried EMDR before, Brainspotting can be helpful to address and resolve any emotional and physical pain that keeps you stuck in patterns you want to change. Many people report going deeper and subsequently experiencing greater benefits from Brainspotting compared to other modalities and even after years or decades in therapy.
Different from many talk therapies, Brainspotting enables you to heal without having to tell or retell your story.
Head on over to my website on www.drbuduris.com to find out more information about my services!