Brainspotting reduces disturbance and increases Heart Rate Variability linked to distressing memories: A pilot study

Fabio D'Antoni


Brainspotting (BSP) is a relatively new type of brain-body psychotherapeutic approach discovered and developed by David Grand (2003) that accesses the client’s innate self-observing and self-healing capacities in the frame of a neurobiologically attuned clinical relationship. Despite it being increasingly growing in popularity among therapists, there is still a paucity of literature on its effectiveness. The aim of the study was to explore the efficacy of BSP in treating distressing (not necessarily traumatic) memories in a non-clinical sample of adults. A within-subjects design was employed for the Brainspotting effectiveness analysis, with two within-subjects factors (treatment, time). The treatment factor had two levels: Brainspotting, and a control condition (Body Scan Meditation). Both objective (Heart Rate Variability - HRV parameters) and subjective (self-report) measures were used in the study. Results showed that, after about 40 minutes of treatment, Brainspotting significantly reduced memory-related distress in comparison with Body Scan Meditation control condition (p = .028). Additionally, the participants had better HRV than before the treatment (all Time Domain parameters p < .05). Participants’ Interoceptive Awareness dimensions and dispositional traits such as attachment style, temperament and character were also examined and discussed within the Brainspotting theoretical frame. These findings, more broadly, highlighted the key role of interoceptive awareness in the processing of distressing memories.


Brainspotting; Psychotherapy; Mindfulness; Interoceptive Awareness; Personality; Attachment.

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