Brainspotting vs EMDR

Brainspotting vs EMDR: Do you know the differences and similarities?

Brainspotting brief overview:

Brainspotting was developed by David Grand in 2003. Brainspotting is based off the theory that emotions from trauma can become stunk in your body which can lead to both physical and mental struggles. Brainspotting is a newer cutting-edge treatment that focuses on the brain body connection. Although Brainspotting is not yet evidenced based as it is newer, there is a lot of research that supports it. This type of therapy is known as a “bottom up” model of treatment, the goal being to release both the physical and emotional stress being stored in your body. This bottom-up treatment model helps to access parts of the brain that traditional talk therapy does not. 

Brainspotting utilizes a person’s field of vision to access the parts of the brain where the traumatic or difficult memories are stored. When you focus on an eye position related to a negative experience you are then able to release the emotional and physical stress within that issue.  A brainspot is an eye position that connects to the capsule containing someone’s memory or emotion bringing it to explicit (conscious) awareness where it can then be processed and healed. The brainspot is held with focused mindfulness.

Brainspotting will not get rid of adverse life experiences or traumatic memories, but it works to alleviate the distress and emotions attached to the memories. Brainspotting is a form of trauma therapy that can be done virtually. To start a therapist will ask you what you would like to work on. They will then ask you how activated you are (how much emotion you are feeling) and where you feel it in your body. From there, the therapist will help you find the brainspot using a pointer going across your field of vision. Once the brainspot is located, the therapist will have you hold your eyes in the spot for deep processing to occurs during a Brainspotting session. The therapist may have you listen to biolateral sounds. 

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) Brief overview: 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) was developed by Francine Shapiro in 1980’s. EMDR is a treatment modality that combines both talk therapy and rapid eye movements or other form of stimulation such as tapping, hand buzzers, and sounds. There are detailed procedures and protocols used in EMDR that help to access unprocessed memories and emotions, so you can process fully through them. 

EMDR was formed off the AIP (adaptive information processing) model. This model holds the belief that we are all born with processing systems in our brain that help to take in information, make sense of it, and store it. However, when one experiences a traumatic event, this system breaks down, and those memories are not able to be processed fully and get stored in an unprocessed form in your brain. Because of this, symptoms of PTSD can occur. These can include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance, negative world or self-views, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, and anger. EMDR helps a person to process these memories, with new thoughts and emotions attached to that memory, and store them more adaptively in their brain, thus decreasing or eliminating PTSD symptoms. 

Brainspotting vs EMDR

Brainspotting vs EMDR Similarities

Help to accès information stored in the Amydala ( brainstem and limbic system)
Both can use bilateral stimulation
The rate of processing can be slowed down if desired
Both make use of resourcing

Brainspotting VS EMDR Differences

Uses fixed eye positionsUses rapid eye movements
Uses Biolateral music for bilateral stimulationCan use buzzers, tapping, rapid eye movements, or sound for the bilateral stimulation
BSP is more flexible, gives the client more control of what they want to work on each session, and can be integrated with different modalities/techniques to facilitate healingHas a very specific/structured protocol
Can be used with almost any clientCan sometimes be overstimulating and can not be used with every client
Uses a specific resource model for issues that can be too activating Uses containment and safe place protocols as forms of resourcing.

Do you have questions on whether Brainspotting vs EMDR, would be right for you? Get in touch below to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.


You can’t escape your past, but you can heal your future.

Whether you’re struggling with PTSD symptoms, recurring trauma, childhood trauma, anxiety, panic, depression, or taking that next big leap…

Together, we can overcome the past that’s preventing you from living the life you so bravely want to live.