Chisel and Stone: Thoughts on Brainspotting
I like picturing Brainspotting through images. Much like the PowerPoints Dr. David Grand offers in his trainings, it helps me to see a visual representation of what Brainspotting is doing with the client. Robert Scaer (2012) states unprocessed trauma is held in capsule form within the brain and Grand theorizes the Brainspot is a way to correlate with the physiological capsule holding the traumatic memory (Grand). I like this visual representation and I think clients do too in helping them understand the basics of Brainspotting.
In my beginning (and yes, naïve) stages of understanding Brainspotting, I like to think of the process in another way as well. I see the work clients and their brains put into Brainspotting as an artist with a chisel and stone. Much like the trauma capsule, it can take a long time to process through trauma and begin opening the capsule or chiseling the stone. I was worried in the beginning when certain clients would take what I felt was longer to open memories or gain insights compared to my instructor for Phases I and II. I had to learn patience and actively decreasing my assumptions.
Different angles taken by the artist on the stone also represent to me the different approaches of Brainspotting. Inside window, outside window, gazespotting, Z-axis, outside-inside, and one eye set-up all could be different forms of approaching the stone. If a client feels stuck, (after asking them to be curious) it could be beneficial to ask if they would be willing to attempt a new approach.
Like all artists, critics looking over their shoulder telling them what they should do ceases in helping the process and can easily impede their work. We cannot hold the chisel for the artist, force them what to do, where to go, what angle to take, or how to take it. In the words of Grand himself, Brainspotting clinicians need to remember the client is the head of a comet and the therapist is the attuned tail observing and following. Hopefully, through the course of the client’s work in Brainspotting, we can begin to see the beautiful often difficult healing created from the hard stone.
Let me be the first to say that what I write here is in no way an attempt to step on toes or in any way discredit the teachings of Brainspotting. I love how Grand describes the process, and I hope to continue growing in my understanding of Brainspotting and the human experience. This is in my own way leaning into “being curious” of Brainspotting and I hope others could take what I wrote as a way they can be curious as well. But let’s be honest, if I know one thing – it’s that I know nothing.
Grand, D. (n.d.). Phase one training manual. Bellmore, NY.
Scaer, R. (2012). 8 keys to brain-body balance. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.