Brainspotting Therapy: A New, Innovative Way of Treating TraumaTrauma is any type of distressing event or experience that can have an impact on a person’s ability to cope and function. Trauma can result in emotional, physical, and psychological harm. The short- and long-term impact of any given traumatic event depends partly on the objective nature of the event, and partly on the individual’s subjective response to it. And while trauma includes large events such as experiencing a car accident or physical/emotional violence, there are other life events that can cause trauma that you may not expect. This could include experiencing a natural disaster, parental divorce, being excluded from a friend group, and even experiencing a global pandemic. There are many different ways to treat trauma in teens such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and medication. Healing from trauma is not something we can just expect teens to figure out on their own. For most teens, time alone will not heal the wounds of their traumatic event. When treating trauma, it’s important to identify new, effective methods to improve results and help individuals heal more efficiently. This is precisely why Equinox has decided to add brainspotting therapy–an innovative way of trauma treatment–into our treatment for trauma. Brainspotting therapy has years of research behind it and has shown to be a spectacular way to help those suffering from past traumas. The evidence behind this method is too irresistible to ignore, let’s explore why.
What is brainspotting therapy?Brainspotting was created in 2003 by David Grand. it’s a new form of psychotherapy that focuses on using the field of vision as a way to access traumatic memories. It uses an incredible merging of the brain and body-based intervention since it utilizes the eyes for identifying and accessing “brainspots” while also activating the auditory bilateral stimulation of the brain. During brainspotting, therapists help people position their eyes in ways that enable them to target sources of negative emotion. With the aid of a pointer, trained brainspotting therapists slowly guide the eyes of people in therapy across their field of vision to find appropriate “brainspots,” with a brainspot being an eye position that activates a traumatic memory or painful emotion. Practitioners of the procedure believe it allows therapists to access emotions on a deeper level and target the physical effects of trauma. This allows for healing to take on an unprecedented depth and speed. In Grand’s 2013 book, Brainspotting: The Revolutionary New Therapy for Rapid and Effective Change, he says the motto of brainspotting therapy is, “Where you look affects how you will feel.” Brainspotting taps into this phenomenon through specific eye positions. This allows the therapist to locate, focus, process, and release a range of bodily and emotionally-based conditions. This method delves into the body’s ability to self-scan and self-heal. How it works is when a brainspot is stimulated, the deep brain reflexively signals the therapist that the source of the issue has been discovered. Brainspotting attempts to help those in therapy reprocess negative events and retrain emotional reactions. It can be used flexibly and quickly, which is perfect for adolescents who require more fluid ways of treatment. Traditional talk therapy alone may not be the answer for teens dealing with trauma. Teen brains are still developing and they may process information better kinetically than solely auditory. Not only does brainspotting treat traumatic memories, it also helps find and strengthen natural resources and resilience within the brain that may have been elusive before. Because of the speed that brainspotting can detect neurological pathways connected to the trauma, treatment can be much more effective and efficient. Resources can be put towards other issues an adolescent may be struggling with, allowing for a more comprehensive experience. Overall, Equinox is eager and excited to include this newfound, compelling therapeutic method in our programming. Brainspotting therapy will not only strengthen the treatment we offer at Equinox, but it will give us the ability to provide better therapeutic interventions to our students.
Evidence-Based Therapy for TraumaEach teen is unique and there is no “one size fits all” answer in therapy. It is important to understand your teen’s needs and identify where they may need the most support. While some students may see results with outpatient therapy, others may benefit from attending a residential treatment program that specializes in trauma treatment. A residential treatment center creates a supportive community where therapists and residential staff work together to create a cohesive and holistic treatment plan for each individual student. We strive to support the creation of self-sustaining, lifelong change at Equinox through our remarkable people and programming. When change is generated through a relationship-based and principle-centered focus, in which a teenager has the choice to comply, lifelong, sustainable change is achievable. One of the strengths of our residential treatment center is our experiential approach which uses the residential environment to observe and help change come about in practical, everyday experiences.
- Milieu Therapy: The home-like setting of Equinox closely matches the settings our young men will return back to after graduation. This provides even greater and more realistic insight and opportunities for change. With a smaller therapeutic setting we can better see where our student’s strengths and weaknesses are, helping them to grow in real life scenarios. Milieu therapy provides “in-the-moment” intervention that is nearly impossible to replicate in traditional therapy sessions.
- Adventure Therapy: The Equinox Adventure Therapy program is designed to provide our students with well-rounded, meaningful learning opportunities through outdoor recreation, experiential education and community service and events. Our program creates a culture that fosters the development of strong, positive identities among young men and strongly challenges old ways of being and thinking. As they develop and learn alongside one another, they form trusting, caring relationships. Activities like rock climbing and white water rafting teach our students to challenge their comfort zones while developing critical life skills like communication, resiliency, and critical thinking.
- Community Service: Learning to give back and to be empathetic is crucial to the growth of a boy into a healthy man. Our students participate in community service each week volunteering at community farms and gardens, planning activities for the elderly, working with our local humane society, and helping to maintain and beautify our campus. Additionally, our students explore a wide range of cultural and leisure activities, attending art classes led by local artists, and other community events, which provide ample opportunities for the boys to look outside themselves and determine how they can give back to the local community.
- Family Therapy: Unlike many at risk youth programs, the heart of our clinical program is the work and therapy we do with families. We firmly believe in the importance of strong and healthy family relationships. The core of our programming is based on healing damaged relationships so that we can help restore healthy connections within the family system. In addition to weekly family therapy sessions by skype or phone, we also invite families to visit the campus and participate in face-to-face family therapy sessions. Weekend visits with their sons are highly encouraged at a pace that is therapeutic to the whole family.