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  • Writer's pictureCelise de Carvalho

"Can Brainspotting Help Relieve Physical Pain? Exploring My Experience"

Updated: Feb 22

What can Brainspotting help with?

On the 22nd November 2022 I had a brainspotting session with my therapist. As part of my ongoing training in brainspotting I have personal brainspotting sessions and thought it might be helpful for you to hear about the experience.

Is Brainspotting good for a trauma I don't remember?

In 1990 I had a car accident and went through the windscreen of a car. I broke my eye socket and patella (knee). I can not remember the accident, no memory of the fear of it about to happen, nothing of the incident. I can remember driving along chatting to my friend and then waking up in the bush on the side of the country road I was driving on. This was followed by weeks of hospital and a couple of surgeries.

I have had a stiff neck on the right side (same side as broken eye socket/cheekbone) for as long as I can remember. I have reduced movement in my neck. Over the years I have had physiotherapy and massage to loosen it up and increase the movement. If I do my physiotherapy exercises it makes a difference but I never keep them up.

Physical discomfort

Lately the pain/discomfort has been moving up my neck and into the base of my skull and crawling towards my ear. I have been wondering whether the trauma of the accident might be having an impact and leading to this increasing discomfort. Without memory of the accident there is very little emotional trauma, no fear or flashbacks. The trauma is physical - the accident, the surgeries. Perhaps the stress of this had left a mark?

The brainspotting experience

To start a brainspotting session you think about the issue and tune into where you can feel the activation or physical reaction in your body. With my scenario there was no emotional activation so I focused on the painful area in my neck and my counsellor helped find a spot that my eye resonated with. She told me that my eyes blinked very rapidly and one eye was faster than the other.

It was a very different experience than my other brainspotting sessions. The physical response was initially quite strong. I felt like I was going to vomit and worked hard at calming myself and reassuring myself I could tolerate it. As this subsided I could feel my eyes flickering a lot and there were periods of immense tiredness, just wanting to go to sleep. I wondered if this was an avoidant tactic and moved my attention back to the spot, checked in with the pain in my neck and tried to stay with the process. The activation or physical feeling was then quite low, there was no emotion and very little story or meaning.

Did the brainspotting work?

It was a strange session. Not as satisfying as I have normally found brainspotting. There were no strong emotions, no ah ha moments. I wondered if anything was really happening. However I did find it relaxing and at times thought I could keep doing it forever..even though I had no idea what was happening. It was like I was meditating, except I normally can't meditate. I ultimately thought nothing was happening and that it was going to make no difference.

My therapist reported seeing a lot of eye movement and thought there would have been a large amount of subcortical processing occurring, in layman's terms - lots happening below the surface.

I went for an hour walk after and now I wait to see if anything shifts.

12hours after brainspotting

9am next day - I have a much larger range of movement in my neck. It feels similar to how it would if I had been doing my exercises regularly. I think most of the pain is gone. I’m not sure because I’m moving my neck and shoulder in ways that would have aggravated the pain previously…I don’t think it’s there but my brain can’t quite grasp it.

One week after brainspotting

One week later - the range of movement is still there. I can feel tightness in a different spot in my neck/shoulder and am looking forward to brainspotting this next time.

Two weeks after brainspotting

Two weeks later I had a reiki session and this shifted the tightness that was lingering a bit more. I definitely have more movement and less pain. Unfortunately I am going away for a month so will not have another brainspotting session for a while. I am so curious to see if I can dig a bit more into this in my next session or if that's it, enough.

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