EYE on Recovery


EMDR and Brainspotting!
by Dawn Zurlinden
Clinical Specialist for The Ranch

We, here at The Ranch, are as motivated as ever to provide deep trauma resolution therapy. In addition to addictive problems, so many people carry unresolved traumatic memories, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The treatment team at The Ranch is always researching methods that work, and methods that work together. We combine hands-on experiential techniques like psychodrama and equine therapy, with traditional and newer methods such as EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). We are now including an off-shoot of EMDR called Brainspotting.

Residents have been so pleased with the rapid results of EMDR and Brainspotting. EMDR was developed by Dr Francine Shapiro in 1989. This method is based on the premise that the mind is inclined to heal the past. It begins with targeting a traumatic memory. With a series of simple eye movements, coupled with gentle exploration, the memory is quite often reprocessed and resolved to the point where it is no longer a painful or frightening memory.

Brainspotting, recently developed by David Grand, PhD, also uses simple eye movements. It tends to work more with the emotional component of a memory, and for many, with dramatic results! The technique draws on the fact that often the fight-or-flight response to a traumatic event is not completed, but rather, “stored”. This results in symptoms like continuous anxiety or sudden anxiety when a triggering event happens. Brainspotting allows focused completion of the fight-or-flight response into the relaxation response. It can also address incomplete emotional reactions such as grief, anger, and shame. The result is the same as with EMDR – the memory is no longer disturbing. Even related memories tend to be resolved, indirectly.

Resolving issues from the past has so much to do with recovery and the future. Sometimes it’s a mystery as to why we repeat behaviors we don’t want to repeat. The answer may well be in the past. Our residents have taught us that it is so much easier to change present behaviors without the silent nudges from the past demanding immediate relief. Then the fun really begins! We love to see that here at The Ranch. The Ranch is ready to help open options for ways to embrace our true nature and create new ways of living!

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