Working in Ecuador with parents and teachers of traumatized children, Glenda Villamarin, MA, LCP, a certified Brainspotting practitioner, developed Group Brainspotting in 2008.
Like the Ecuadorian population, growURpotential is aware that Angelenos have limited access to individual Brainspotting therapy due to several barriers, and like Glenda Villamarin, we are CARE providers that want to expand access to the principles of Brainspotting for greater community impact.
What is Brainspotting?
Brainspotting (BSP) is a neurophysiological approach to whole-body healing. It utilizes the phenomenon of “where you look affects how you feel” as guided by David Grand, PhD since his discovery in 2003. Since that time, 13,000 therapists have been trained in BSP which uses fixed eye positions, focused mindfulness, and relational attunement to deeply process and resolve trauma in a safe, non-cognitive way, that impacts long-term memory. How it works is well explained in this 15 minute video: Brainspotting and developmental trauma by Matt Healey
Key Components of Group-Brainspotting
Group-Brainspotting (G-BSP) therapy is grounded in research validation that therapy groups produce impactful environments for personal growth and transformation. Effective group therapy fosters a sense of belonging and often provides corrective attachment experiences that heal trauma and social disease. G-BSP is a structured approach to skill development that often produces a foundation for deep emotional healing.
The growURpotential G-BSP Workgroup is hosted by Katie Plumb, LCSW, Alumni member and current clinical supervisor of this agency's clinical training program. Katie has worked exclusively in trauma-informed, social justice-oriented care for more than 8 years and is a committed LGBTQ+ Ally who supports clinicians and families from an antioppressive framework.
Each group meeting follows a specific outline, and centers THERAPLAY, a treatment approach improves attachment security and emotional capacity for self-compassion and empathy.
Mindfulness is about being fully present in the moment with nonjudgmental awareness. It involves accepting and acknowledging our experiences without pushing them away or asking them to be different. In the context of Brainspotting, mindfulness plays a crucial role. Once we focus on the issue, mindfulness helps engage the dysregulated parts of the brain, allowing participants to identify and concentrate on the "blocks" or traumatic capsules.
By mindfully observing this inner process, the experiencer gains insight into these blocks. Finding our own best solutions often helps experiencers release traumatic capsules. resolves them, and releases them. This process helps regulate the system and promotes healing.
In the structure of G-BSP, the second focus in the group is on teaching and practicing mindfulness in preparation for the deep processing they will experience. Simple activities such as mindfully eating chocolate are practiced here. In terms of pacing, the mindful practices seem to be a nice bridge between the play beforehand, and relaxation that follows.
After the play and mindfulness practices, the group moves into a short relaxation exercise (such as a progressive muscle relaxation). This clears the path to self-regulation during the (sometimes intense) processing to follow. At this point a SUDs scale (0-10 rating) is used to determine the clients’ activation prior to the brainspotting setup for that day.
In group Brainspotting (G-BSP), there are some key differences when compared to individual sessions. The therapist takes a more active role in guiding the group and creating attunement among its members. Specific setups are used to frame the work and manage clients' processing. These setups involve techniques like visualizations, art, and writing to explore the chosen issue.
To find the spot, clients slowly move their gaze from left to center to right while noticing any shifts or sensations (even the slightest tingling in the toes may indicate a relevant spot), and hold their gaze there. If clients struggle to find the relevant eye position, I will assist with a BSP “wand” (a telescopic pointer used to guide and focus the eyes). Once the eye position is fixed, clients are guided to just keep mindfully witnessing whatever comes up within them from there (memories, emotions, sensations, thoughts, etc), without pushing any of it away. Processing is interrupted periodically for clients to share a word, gesture, or their current level of distress (using the SUDs Scale again). This helps regulate their experience and allows the therapist to address any emerging issues.
In our 6-week G-BSP participants learn each week as the facilitator, Katie Plumb, LCSW, introduces 4 ways to practice. This opportunity will focus on resourcing and expanding depth of emotion processing skills, building toward an ability to begin healing activated-issued with your therapist. Each step in the process is self-guided, participants choose what to work on based upon their own comfort level. We only admit participants that are working with a therapist at this organization, talk to your therapist to find out how to enroll.