Brainspotting vs EMDR

Brainspotting brief overview:

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

Brainspotting utilizes your field of vision in order to access parts of the brain where the traumatic or difficult memories are being 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.  Additionally; a brainspot is an eye position that connects to the capsule containing someone’s memory or emotion bringing it to conscious awareness where it can then be processed and healed. The brainspot is located and it is held with focused mindfulness.

Brainspotting will not get rid of adverse life experiences or traumatic memories, but it will work to alleviate the distress and emotions attached to the memories. Brainspotting can be done both virtually or in person. Firstly, a therapist will ask you what you would like to work on. Secondly, The therapist could ask you how activated you are (how much emotion you are feeling) along with where you feel it in your body. Thirdly, the therapist would help you find the brainspot using a pointer going across your field of vision. Lastly, once the brainspot is located, the therapist will have you hold your eyes in that spot for deep processing to occur. The therapist could 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. Firstly, It is a treatment modality that combines both talk therapy and rapid eye movements. Also, it can use other form of bilateral stimulation such as tapping, hand buzzers, and sounds. Secondly, it has detailed procedures and protocols used in EMDR that can help to access unprocessed memories and emotions. This will help you process fully through them. 

EMDR had been developed around something called the AIP (adaptive information processing) model. AIP holds the belief that we are all born with processing systems in our brain that will help to take in information, make sense of it, and store it. However, when someone experiences a traumatic event this system will break down. As a result, these memories will not be processed fully and will get stored in an unprocessed form in your brain. When this happens symptoms of PTSD can occur. These can include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance, negative world or self-views, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, and anger. Lastly, 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

Both can help access information stored in the Amygdala (your brainstem and limbic system)
Both may use bilateral stimulation
The rate of processing can be slowed down if desired
Makes use of resourcing

Brainspotting VS EMDR Differences

Engages in fixed eye positionsEngages in rapid eye movements
Uses Biolateral music for biolateral stimulationWill use buzzers, tapping, rapid eye movements, or sound for the bilateral stimulation
BSP is more flexible, it can give the client more control of what they would like to work on each session. It could also be integrated with different modalities/techniques to help facilitate healingHas a very specific/structured protocol
Could be used with almost any clientMay sometimes be overstimulating and can not be used with every client
Has a specific resource model for issues that can be too activating Uses containment and safe place protocols as forms of resourcing.

To Conclude, there are many similarities and differences between the two modalities. 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.

Blog Disclaimer – These posts are not meant to treat, diagnose, or serve as a replacement for therapy. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact your local crisis center or dial 911. Here are more immediate resources as well.


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.