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  • Writer's pictureSteve Sawyer

How Does Brainspotting (BSP) Help With Complex (CPTSD) or Developmental Trauma (DT)?

With discussions in previous blogs, CPTSD and DT, we have covered the embedded nature of stress responses and adaptations with these severe forms of long-term traumatization exposure. The common trait of CPSTSD and DT is a deeply aggravated nervous system developed through a large number of acute stress responses and experiences. In most cases with CPTSD and DT, there are hundreds of memories driving this disturbance and stress. The nervous system developing these adaptations is a culmination of many memories, making it more difficult to isolate a source for treating it. Often, problematic memories arise, but the foundation of the struggle is a culmination, not a single incident.


Many currently accepted trauma treatments, like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) or Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) etc., are very memory-centered in their approach, focusing on relieving the pain of a particular identified memory. How then do we then address the culmination of potentially hundreds of memories? This memory-centered approach would, in turn, then require hundreds of sessions to experience complete and lasting relief when using a memory-by-memory approach.


The reasonable alternative solution to this long journey lies in the physiology and dysregulation created by these memories. The culmination of painful memories commonly lives in the various combinations of the six forms of dysregulation I have discussed previously, creating a visceral, uncomfortable, agitated experience. Brainspotting focuses on physiology or felt sense of the culmination of experiences, not the specific memory. Therefore, in many cases, far more than one memory can be processed in one session, significantly speeding up the process of healing for individuals with histories of an overwhelming number of harmful memories and experiences.


In addition to the strength in multi-memory physiology focus when working with CPSTD and DT, Brainspotting is highly impactful for this sensitive population through its relational emphasized structure. BSP highly focuses on a collaborative, less facilitative, and attuned experience, seeking to release any power or control dynamics by the BSP provider. This is often very helpful in establishing and maintaining a sense of safety for this population that has grown up in authority relationships that were riddled with aggression, shame, or neglectful dynamics.


Find out more about Brainspotting on Steve Sawyer's website. Click the link below.



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