Brainspotting vs EMDR: What’s the Difference?

Last Update on February 16, 2022 : Published on February 16, 2022
Brainspotting vs EMDR

Brainspotting and Eye Movement Depersonalisation & Reprocessing (EMDR) both are therapies that function on the body-mind connection. In both therapies the fundamental theory remains the same, the mind and the body are interconnected.

Brainspotting and Eye Movement Depersonalisation & Reprocessing (EMDR) therapists believe that to heal the mind you need to start working on the body. With the help of eye movement both brainspotting and EMDR move towards providing comfort to their patient.

Before we begin with differentiating the two let’s understand each of their basics first…

What Is Brainspotting?

Brainspotting was discovered by David Grand. Although brainspotting has come from EMDR itself, it’s approaches are more flexible and the methods are more powerful. The results of brainspotting therapy are more promising than the old methods of the EMDR therapy.

In brainspotting therapy, the therapist and the client work together in finding a brainspot. A brainspot is basically an eye position that resonates with your distressing emotions and feelings. Once the brainspot is identified, the therapist will help you access your stressful emotions and process them properly in order to reduce your symptoms.

What Is EMDR Therapy?


Eye Movement Depersonalisation & Reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly common therapy that is being used by a lot of therapists. EMDR has been in action since the 1980s. In Fact it was one of the first bilateral stimulation methods that was being used.

Eye Movement Depersonalisation & Reprocessing (EMDR)  basically helps in tapping the non-verbal information that has been stored in your brain. The effects of this treatment differ from one person to another, some can even get overstimulated and can result in seizures.

Also read: Can EMDR Therapy Have A Negative Impact? Side Effects of EMDR therapy

Now that you know a gist of both therapies, let’s look at some of their similarities…

Brainspotting VS EMDR: The Similarities

Both Brainspotting and EMDR are similar in many ways. Here’s a list of a few similarities both the therapies have…

  • Both Brainspotting therapy and EMDR therapy use bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulation is a kind of stimulation that occurs on both sides of the body alternatively.  Both therapies use similar kinds of stimulation although the method of stimulation can differ.
  • Both EMDR and brainspotting use eye movements to find their tapping points and stimulations. In EMDR the Eye Movement is side to side and in Brainspotting the Eye Movement is left free.
  • Both Brainspotting and EMDR therapists follow a set pattern. They have a protocol that they strictly follow during their sessions. Both the therapies also share a similar pattern.
  • Both Brainspotting and EMDR have similarities in some of their techniques. They both use resourcing and grounding.
  • Both in EMDR and brainspotting close attention is paid to similar aspects. They both closely examine the physical sensation, thought, memories and emotions.

Also read: What Is Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder (DPDR)?

Now, let’s get to the difference between EMDR and brainspotting therapy…

EMDR vs Brainspotting Therapy: The Difference


Finding a difference between these two very similar looking therapies can be a little tricky. On the surface they look quite similar but when you start digging deeper, there you can see the differences.

The similarities between EMDR and brainspotting that you just read, that’s just the outer layer, the differences lie underneath those similarities.

Let’s look at the differences between EMDR and brainspotting so that things become more clear to you…

1. Different eye movement and positioning: although both EMDR and brainspotting therapy use eye movements, the way they way it and the positioning that matter differs in both therapies.

In EMDR the eye movement is side to side and in brainspotting therapy, the eye is made to focus on one single point.

2. Difference in the tools being used: EMDR therapists use tappers, bilateral sounds, fingers and light bars whereas brainspotting therapists use headphones, biolateral sounds or a pointer to guide the patient.

3. Difference in their rules of conducting a session: although the protocol that both follow have a lot of similarities, the main difference is in the length of a session. EMDR is more lengthy and rigid whereas brainspotting is more flexible and short.


When we talk about EMDR and brainspotting therapy, there are more similarities than differences. This is so because brainspotting has evolved from EMDR itself, it’s natural for both of them to be similar.

Their similarities is in fact the reason one should know about the difference between the two.

I hope you found this blog interesting. Brainspotting vs EMDR is something we should know about because the difference is what makes them apart. Do comment down below if you are aware of any other differences between EMDR and Brainspotting, if I skipped any!

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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