How Does This Work?

Philosophical understandings and research related to my approach

Introduction

Blessings and strength to you.

I made this section for those of us who are skeptical about anything that sounds too good to be true. We are all composed of multiple aspects, some parts of us might be more intellectual or even reluctant to believe we can recover.

As an Anti-Racist Psychotherapist, my occupation involves me witnessing people who heal right before my eyes. When you witness enough miracles, you start to see them as more of the rule rather than the exception.

I have had some people who had questions about my assertions of clinical recovery. Even some people have wondered if their own recovery was a fluke! It is fair to be skeptical, but if these flukes are miracles, then as a scientist-practitioner, I take it as my responsibility to replicate flukes as often as possible so they become undeniable.

If you are curious about the approach I use, I am happy to share the following philosophies and research studies with you. ENJOY!

My Philosophies of Change

In a discussion with Thomas Zimmerman, he helped to clarify something for me.

Our field of psychotherapy popularized two erroneous beliefs: First, that change requires catharsis, secondly, that change requires a long period of time.

So I started to wonder, if people can acquire PTSD from single pass learning events, and become locked in this emotional vulnerability for years, then why can't it go both ways?

If all it takes is one experience of intense suffering, who says we cannot also recover quickly and efficiently?

These are just beliefs. Because psychotherapy is more than a hundred years old, I think it is time that we update the outdated beliefs. This page is devoted to those who would like more information about how to recover and who prefer scientific understandings and explanations.

Trauma is the basis for present day stresses and vulnerabilities to mental health conditions. Psychological impacts that can be severe, chronic, unexpected and leave a mark, play a large impact on the etiological basiss of present day distress. Trauma can affect the brain and cause the nervous system to change the way how it regularly operates. When we heal from trauma, not only do we our past, but we change our future.

Trauma exists as "small letter t-trauma" (subjective) and "capital letter T-Trauma" (objective). The small letter-t is subjective (i.e. being bullied, racial microaggression; subject to interpretation as traumatic) and the capital letter-T is objective (i.e. being assaulted, life-threatening events, generally agreed upon as traumatic).

When people experience traumatic events of either type, the body holds the experience of suffering. The nervous system becomes activated. For this reason, just talking about the problem may not always resolve it.

This is the justification for my theoretical approach. We need more than talking, we need an EXPERIENCE that disconfirms the emotional learning behind the trauma. We need something that gets to the heart of the problem.

The key is to know that ALL people can recover if we have the right technology. I hope this page can breed hope and allay skepticism among clients and therapists alike.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy

EMDR therapy is a powerful therapy that allows for the reconsolidation of traumatic memories. Much of the research relates to movements involving the use of the eyes, but there are also ways of moving and/or tapping shoulders and alternate sides of the body.

By using bilateral stimulation/dual attention stimulus in conjunction with noticing events which carry disturbances, the client is capable of resolving their experience of distress. Rather than being stuck in the past or focused on the future, the client can reorient to the present moment and "reconsolidate" the past memory.

No need for homework assignments. Once we complete the target, it's done. For good.

Resource Development and Installation (RDI)

This is listed separately but it is a component of EMDR Therapy. RDI is a means of being able to get a person to tune into the infinite number of internal resources that they have access to.

Developed by Dr. Deborah Korn and Dr. Andrew Leeds, this method has been invaluable in helping people develop latent characteristics and positive belief sets. Based on experiences of mastery, relational resources, or symbolic metaphors, using RDI compliments any of the above approaches and helps clients to stay within their window of affect tolerance.

Flash Technique

Developed by Phil Manfield and still currently in development, Flash technique is a way of rapidly reducing experiences of distress using ideas relating to taxing working memory, memory reconsolidation, bilateral stimulation, and eye blinking.

When people are able to talk about their experience or focus on a positive and engaging focus while using certain movements and actions, they can deepen their experience and provide disconfirming evidence to the experience of distress. It is my go to when people are experiencing high levels of distress and when some experiences of suffering are resistant to change.

Brainspotting

Developed by David Grand, who was originally an EMDR therapy instructor, this approach also places an emphasis on eyes and the mind/body connection.

When clients access specific traumatic events or associated somatic experiences, there is often a corresponding eye location that when maintained for an amount of time leads to "processing" of the information. This form of processing is often a gentler way of addressing trauma treatment than other models.

Additionally clients also benefit from using headphones and having bilateral auditory tones that also work toward reconsolidating memories. Although it does not have as much empirical support, I have still seen great progress with this modality.

Mindfulness Meditation

It may not be possible to say who originally created this but it is commonly associated with Eastern philosophies and traditions of meditation. It can be argued that sitting in stillness and acknowledgeing the present is as natural as intentionally breathing so... no one can really lay claim to it.

Still in recent decades there was a heightened interest in Meditation in the West. I think it's because people are finally realizing we need more than just thinking and talking about problems, we also need to acknowledge how the body and mind responds to them.

Orienting oneself to the present moment and breathing with intention can have a soothing effect, boost creativity, and have a grounding effect.

Emotional Freedom Technique

Originally Developed from Gary Craig, this is an accupressure based self-care technique that is helpful for a variety of different approaches. This technique involves finding words to address the difficult experiences, while tapping on self-soothing points on the body.

It is frequently just called "Tapping" because of the rapid tapping on different parts of the face and body. While it is one of the stranger looking techniques, do not let that fool you. This is a powerful auxiliary strategy that has literally been a life saver in my practice.

Memory (Therapeutic) Reconsolidation

Memory reconsolidation is highly researched and is one of the guiding principles for much of my work. I first read about it from Bruce Ecker, Robin Ticic, and Laurel Hulley's Unlocking the Emotional Brain: Eliminating Symptoms at Their Roots Using Memory Reconsolidation. This book changed my life and by doing so, changed the lives of many of my clients once I applied the principles to my therapeutic practice.

Less of a technique/psychotherapy and more of a set of guiding principles, memory reconsolidation explains why most of these approaches work and how people heal.

Simply put, when we access certain types of traumatic experiences, the brain assumes we will have an experience. This assumption, or prediction is expected to be painful, intolerable and even a threat to our existence. This is why the symptoms are varied for mental health stresses and the solutions can be simple (yet still complex).

Memory is fallible. When we remember things we are only rememebring the last time we remembered the thing. We never store the exact event as it unfolded. So when accessing terrible memories, instead of feeling bad, there is a different experience that I get my clients to execute. The result is that the implicit and explicit aspects of memory become "updated" with the new information.

Paraphrasing from myself in Anti-Racist Psychotherapy: This “prediction error” or "disconfirming knowledge" of feeling safe/having fun/being awesome in the present changes the accessed memory, leading to a permanent change once this memory is reconsolidated with the updated information.

Four Blinks Version of Flash: An Open Approach to Trauma Reprocessing

The Four Blinks version of Flash was popularized by Thomas Zimmerman and is an extension of Flash Techniques from Phil Manfield.

All people have the ability to heal and recover. We have had access to this ability for generations but never, in our recorded history, was it it ever explained in such a simple way. It is proof that we may have had more sophisticated technologies for recovering from trauma before the so-called "discovery" of psychotherapy.

It is likely to revolutionize how we see trauma recovery in the years to come. Now without being too dramatic, and keeping in mind the previous topic of memory reconsolidation, here is an explanation:

After *lightly* activating a memory, we place the stress in a mentally constructed container. Rather than focusing on the memory, we focus on something calm or compelling. It can be an imaginary concept but in our therapy I will use images or videos.

While focusing on the positive scene we blink three to four times with five seconds in between each set. This provides us with multiple "micro-exposures" to the positive experience. When we interrupt our viewing five times in a row, it's as if we were exposed 6 times to the positive experience rather than just once.

Repeating that through the length of the therapy session leads to a person being exposed to a positive experience HUNDREDS of times in a short amount of time. Repeating this exercise leads to the reconsolidation of traumatic memories, with the least amount of abreactive risk.

Again, catharsis is unnecessary for change. Years of talking about the trauma are redundant and ineffective. Change can literally happen in the blink of an eye 😉

Note: This approach is still being researched and the evidence base is under development!

All people can heal.
Your journey is not meant to be like the others.
Have hope and keep strength.