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Brainspotting vs. EMDR: Differences in Power Therapies

Brain-based therapy techniques can help clients experience unique breakthroughs during their sessions - especially when traditional “talk therapy” methods are at a standstill.  Sometimes referred to as “power therapies,” these newer methods work to unlock creativity, process through past trauma, and otherwise make some truly significant progress with your therapist.

The “power therapies” EMDR and Brainspotting have been developed around the client’s line of vision. EMDR utilizes eye movements, while Brainspotting focuses the eye on a fixed gaze position. The position of your eyes, or where your gaze is directed, can actually unlock some deeper insights that have not yet been recognized. Therapists who are specially trained in these practices often help clients make leaps and bounds with their healing process. It is all about approaching things from (quite literally) a different perspective!

What is EMDR?

Today, EMDR is a fairly common form of treatment in therapy. It stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing” and has been used by therapists since the 1980’s. There is much research surrounding EMDR and much can be found about it from both supporters and proponents.

EMDR helps individuals tap into parts of their brain where nonverbal information is stored. Because EMDR relies on rapid eye movements, it may not be a suitable form of treatment for everyone. Some people find EMDR to be overstimulating, which can lead to other problems, including the (slight) risk of seizures.

What is Brainspotting?

Brainspotting was discovered by David Grand, growing out of his EMDR work. As a new interaction, it is even more powerful and more flexible than the previous EMDR methods. Due to the flexibility, how it works for each client may look slightly differently.

In a nutshell, here’s how it works: The therapist and client work together to find the “brainspot” or eye position that corresponds with a specific emotional response or incident. Once on that “target,” the therapist and client simply allow the client’s brain to make the connections needed to continue processing this event. This works a little differently for each client; however, Brainspotting also allows the therapist to utilize resources in session if it ever feels too intense for a client without stopping the process. 

Benefits of Brainspotting

Overall, Brainspotting tends to yield faster and deeper results over standard EMDR methods. This seems to happen because Brainspotting is much more adaptable. Therapists can be flexible with the approach, thus finding the right iteration for you and your needs.

  • More Flexible than EMDR?
  • More Appropriate for Children & Teenagers?
  • Helps Access Emotions on a Deeper Level?
  • Works as an Add-On to Current Therapy?
  • Can also be utilized for performance enhancement ?
  • It does not require the client to verbalize their trauma - Brainspotting sessions can occur without the client speaking?

EMDR might be better known because has been around for a longer period of time, but Brainspotting is widely believed to be much more appropriate for working with adolescents. It’s less likely to overstimulate, which makes it a great fit for individuals (at any age) who struggle with feeling overwhelmed. Plus, Brainspotting doesn’t require much conversation. You can talk as little or as much as you want with this type of therapy—so it is especially useful for those who don’t want to talk to a therapist.

Finding the Right Therapy

As a therapist, I partner with my clients to find the techniques that are right for their needs and current situation. Because counseling is such an individualized process, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Whether you are already working with a therapist, or just looking to get started, Brainspotting can help customize your treatment.

If you would like to learn more, please contact me. We can always schedule a 15-minute teleconference to see if my services would be a good fit for you, or your family. 


Therapists and students interested in learning more about Brainspotting are encouraged to join us for Brainspotting Phase I training in Indianapolis in June for 21 CEUs.


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