Healing Trauma in a Flash

Experiencing traumatic events can be so bad that we do not want to go through them again by talking about them in therapy. Painful emotions would have to be relived, so it is only understandable that people prefer not to go through them again. Not only are these memories uncomfortable, but they are also, from a survival perspective, identified as a threat. And our mind may very well want to avoid them at all costs.

What if these memories, caused by single events, could be processed without going through them, without having to talk about them, and without reliving them? It would be possible to significantly reduce the disturbances caused by the traumatic event and, therefore, impact our lives by using the Flash Technique developed by Dr. Philip Manfield (Ph.D.).

This technique can often be completed within a single session. It was developed as preparation for EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing). The procedure is straightforward and similar to EMDR as it uses eye movements and tapping. At the start, the client will share a traumatic event. If it is unclear what memory caused the client’s presenting symptoms, the therapist will help the client identify the ‘target’ memory.

The therapist will ask the client to focus on a person, pet, or activity that provides an immediate pleasurable experience, otherwise known as Positive Engaging Focus (PEF). In as little as 10-15 minutes, PEF can significantly reduce the impact of the initial disturbance.

While working with the trauma, the client does not need to keep thinking about the trauma; this makes the procedure less scary and daunting. In the end, the disturbances may be gone entirely or reduced significantly. This means that the client is well-prepared for other models of therapy to improve their wellbeing further.

It is essential to highlight that the Flash Technique (FT) should only be used by certified therapists to ensure the client’s safety. Both adults and children may benefit from this process, and the technique has been used to treat a wide variety of presenting complaints, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

Written by:
Allard Mueller
Counsellor and Psychotherapist
SACAC Counselling

Who are you and who are you becoming through COVID?

We may all agree that the topic of COVID is getting tiring and exhausting,

I understand that you all may not want to talk about COVID anymore. We are all soaked about it. It has lasted too long, impacted too much, and taken too much of our energy and time. But believe me, it can be beneficial in some ways.

Maybe to start with, we can put COVID aside for a while and let you take place first. Let’s talk about you, your personality, and your identity. 

You have probably asked yourself before about who you are. Identity, contrary to what some might believe, is not a fixed category. It evolves all the time and is continuously changing, although it can sometimes seem predetermined or predictable.

According to behaviorism and other contextual behavior sciences, personality is not something that dictates our behavior, but it is part of it. The dichotomy between mind and body is outdated. What makes a person unique and singular results from her/his relationship with culture, including ontogenetic and phylogenetic processes. Therefore, identity is what we do, how we react, how we feel, how we think, and how we process things.

Besides behavioral psychology, the ideas of Social Psychology, the Materialism Historical, and the Dialect Method point out that human action in the world changes the material simultaneously as it changes the subject. Object and subject become a unity of contrary, moving culture, history, and human condition forward. “(…) All sensation or perception is an interaction between subject and object; the bare object, apart from the activity of the percipient, is a mere raw material, which is transformed in the process of being known. Knowledge in the old sense of passive contemplation is an unreal abstraction; the process that really takes place is one of handling things”. (Wambui, 2011, p.3)

Now that you know that your identity is mainly a social construct that evolves along with life, we can (sorry!) go back to COVID.

Like it or not, COVID has brought the emergence of unique needs, distinct ways of doing things, and new rules. The world is now different. As the theories above explicate, COVID has changed not just our environment but how we are as individuals too. We have been lonely, down, committed, open to new things, insightful, missing our family and trips, feeling hungry, feeling different, depressed, marginalized. And it depends on where in the world you were when it all started and where you are now. And I don’t just mean the physical world. It depends on what you choose to be when COVID happened and as it continues. Determinations are constant, but they are not everything.

Even if you can’t acknowledge these changes, COVID has impacted you somehow. And to overcome and find your journey in COVID times, I invite you to look deep within yourself and embrace this new context, not in a passive way but in an active, intentional way. It is not about being positive; it’s about being realistic. It’s not about being altruistic; it is about being human, being you, your only you. This period is about understanding your role, the power of your actions, and the power of your being. It’s not about denying determinism; it’s about accepting it and finding your best version of yourself. In the end, it is about giving yourself your best. And as a result, it is about giving others your best. It is to learn how to exist and co-exist.

All in all, we can only be ourselves because of others. And you can choose your path wisely, even knowing that freedom is not absolute and there is no control for all that affects us. But there are choices, there are fruits, and there is happiness, even in dark times.

In the end, I hope we can all look back on this period with some sense of relief, something to own, some new insights into ourselves, and maybe even something to smile about. Perhaps even being able to say, “I did it my way,” as Sinatra sings.

Just one last thing: if you need guidance in this process of deciding for your best version of yourself, please feel free to contact us. We are here to help.

Wishing you good luck and tenderness through this inevitable journey.

Written by:
Andrea Fernandes Thomaz
Counsellor & Psychotherapist
SACAC Counselling

References:

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Wambui, M. W. (2011). Dialectical Materialism and Historical Dialectics of Karl Marx. Munich, GRIN. Verlag, Retrieved from: https://www.grin.com/document/703506

The benefits of artistic expression in this uncertain time to express what we cannot name

In this time of uncertainty, returning to a creative activity gives us, parents and children, the opportunity to take the time to welcome our emotions, to explore them and to enrich each other. It is useful and recommended to find a few avenues to explore in order to support your child’s voice.

In the context of COVID, children need to express what they are feeling. Exposed to the media and to the conversations of adults, they must be given the opportunity to reconnect with their own critical capacities and to put prejudices, classifications and speculations aside.

The trace

Arno Stern, creator of the Clos Lieu and founder of “le Jeu de Peindre,” insists that drawing, in Italian as in German, means “to show,” “to designate.” A sketch is better than a beautiful speech! Drawing is a means of communication for the child – it has meaning and it leaves a mark. This trace is used to contain emotions without having to verbalize them. It is a way of representing “outside of yourself” what we experience with the environment. This allows us to de-dramatize and defuse, without trivializing.

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The transformative power of writing (narrative practice)

Helping our child to tell his story can certainly contribute to his well-being, in times of crisis like the one we are currently experiencing. Supporting him is offering him the opportunity to transform his emotions and for him to become aware of himself: Where am I? How did I get there? Where am I going? It allows him to situate himself in relation to his relationship to others and to the current context.

As a parent, it is by no means the quality of the drawing that is sought, but the quality of the time spent together recounting what we observe, what we have heard during the day.

It offers us a potential space for:

– To make time for a break

– Accept difficult feelings if there are any

– Find a place of safety, security, serenity, joy to express

– Claiming our voice to tell

– Transform feelings

– Enrich and deepen our understanding of our community

So, how do you facilitate artistic expression?

–  Remain concrete, authentic, and rich in details

–  Listen

–  Do not try to justify or over-analyze when writing, drawing, etc.

–  Recognize and balance negativity with positivity

–  Use metaphors to represent concepts instead of trying to define everything

– Do not worry about grammar

– Do not exceed 1 hour per day

– Enjoy the process!

Written by:
Saveria Cristofari 
Counsellor
SACAC Counselling

Mental Health Maintenance in Repeated Lockdowns

Until tightened restrictions took effect over the past weekend, many in Singapore were just regaining their sense of hope and ability to thrive. Since the end of December, we were blessed with near-normal lives that allowed us to dine in at restaurants, gather with family and friends in groups as big as 8, and return to working in offices. With new safety measures in place through at least the next month, concerns about ability to cope are bound to shroud the minds of many. In order to maintain mental health as we enter another lockdown, we can aim to achieve a balance in 3 key dichotomies.

Virtual World and Real World

We cannot deny the internet’s multitude of wonderful functions; it keeps us connected with others, it is a rich sea of information and learning resources; it provides us with vicarious experiences we are otherwise unable to access, and much more. However, excessive or maladaptive device usage can contribute to feelings of isolation, derealization, lower self-esteem, anxiety, and unhealthy misconceptions stemmed from misinformation. Be mindful about how much time you spend on devices, and what need you are trying to fulfill by being on your device. Make time to regularly engage in real world activities like going for a walk outside, preparing an enjoyable meal, or doing some arts and crafts. If you have difficulty feeling connected with real life activities, try to incorporate mindfulness to enhance your level of engagement.

Individual and Social Activities

Loneliness and feeling stifled living in close quarters with others are difficult, yet common experiences in lockdowns. Opportunities to socialize with people of your choice can ward off feelings of loneliness, boredom, and provide a refreshing change of social scenery for those who live with others. While it may not be advisable to meet in person, we can still arrange time to regularly socialize with friends and family virtually. If you get bored of simple video calls, get creative by asking each other to participate in online games, quizzes, simultaneous movie streaming, playlist collaborations, or learn a new skill together through an instructional video. For those who live with others, it is important to draw boundaries to retain your sense of autonomy and individuality. Safeguard your “me time” by letting those you live with know you won’t be available at that time.

Productivity and Rest

People tend to bounce between extremes of productivity and rest during lockdowns. Sometimes, work bleeds into what is meant to be our personal time off, causing disturbance to sleep routines, impairing our ability to engage and enjoy personal activities, and preventing us from feeling sufficiently recharged. All of these can quickly lead to lower work performance and burnout. On the other extreme, some abandon all duties and fall into a state of stagnation. We may feel frozen when overwhelmed by so many limitations around what we do and how we do it. Motivation can also wither away when usual sources of accountability are no longer present. Maintain a healthy work-life balance by setting regular work hours for yourself. Consider having accountability partners for both work and your personal time. This way, you can encourage each other to remain consistent with starting/ending work on time, and have meaningful engagement with time spent either working or resting.

As difficult as this period may be, we must remind and accredit ourselves for persevering through the lockdown last year. Let this fuel a sense of hope that we can withstand another one. Give thanks to yourself for every effort exerted to maintain your physical and mental wellbeing, and have self-compassion on the days when those efforts fall short.

SACAC Counselling wishes for everyone to stay safe through this trying time. If you have difficulty coping, please reach out for professional help.

Written by:
Michelle Chak 
Clinical Psychologist
SACAC Counselling

“It Takes a Village…”

As the adage correctly states, it takes collaboration between various parties to raise healthy, well-adjusted children. This is especially so if a child is going through a challenging time and demonstrating behavioral and emotional distress.  

Research has shown that parental involvement is essential to positive therapy outcomes for most children, regardless of age. Typically, the younger the child the more involved a parent should be. Parental involvement is especially important in the translation of therapeutic skills from the clinic to real-life situations in the child’s life.

In short, it is crucial that parents act as drivers of prescribed therapy at home. Active participation is key. As a parent, how can you actively contribute to your child’s therapeutic journey? Here are some suggestions:

  • Be engaged in your child’s therapy session where possible. Take notes and ask questions when in doubt. It is appreciated when a parent shares concerns about various skills or strategies taught in session and provides honest feedback about their child’s responses to the therapy. This enables the therapist to accurately pinpoint issues and appropriately adapt the therapy sessions to better accommodate the unique needs of the child.
  • Be prepared to do “homework”. One of the most important roles of a parent in therapy is to ensure that their child practices the skills learnt in session and to facilitate generalisation of these skills while in a home environment. This may involve parents taking some time out of their schedules in order to engage the child in some exercises. In addition, the parents should note any questions which may arise and document progress so that it can be readily addressed at the next therapy session.
  • Facilitate necessary communication between your child’s therapist and other stakeholders. Sometimes, it is important to engage other stakeholders in the child’s therapy such as the school and teachers. It is very helpful if parents take the initiative and open up the communication between all stakeholders. This will help everyone better understand the child’s strengths and weaknesses and how to better support in various settings.  
  • Finally, while it is encouraged to be involved, be careful about being over-involved and attempting to dictate the direction of therapy. As a parent, one might experience anxiety or impatience and feel the urge to act on these emotions. Should this occur, it is important to address these concerns with the therapist and work together as a team.  

Remember, while the therapist is the expert of the relevant theoretical knowledge and therapy process, the parent is ultimately the expert of the child! When parents and therapists collaborate, progress and empowerment inevitably results.

Written by:
Jamie Ong
Clinical Psychologist
SACAC Counselling

Learning to Surrender…

By surrendering, I mean allowing yourself to feel what you feel. Stop trying to control or prevent. Stop fighting against yourself. Stop struggling and pressuring yourself to feel differently from the way you feel. Stop the judgment of what you are going through and the comparison with others. Stop feeling shameful and weak for your own experience.

Allow yourself to just feel…

To just welcome whatever emotions you are feeling. To allow your mind and your body to acknowledge those physical feelings. To allow the discharge in the form of grunting, crying, or even cursing to yourself.

It makes sense to feel frustrated when dealing with frustrating people. It is natural to feel sad when you are missing your loved ones and longing to be reunited with them. It is organic to feel anxiety when dealing with a stressful situation or with uncertainty.

Those emotions are not proof of weaknesses or a mental health disorder. It is proof that you are alive, that you are a human being, and that you are facing adversity.

We tend to put pressure on ourselves to feel cheerful all the time and rush to wrestle and fix anything that feels “negative” and uncomfortable, in us or others. We can even feel shame or guilt when we experience unpleasant feelings such as anger or fear which result in negativity piling up. Yes, feeling bad about feeling bad makes us feel even worse! Your judgment and expectation on how you “should” feel or not feel create more pain than the feelings you are experiencing in the first place.

Based on her research, Doctor Maya Tamir points out that, “People want to feel very good all the time. Even if they feel good most of the time, they may still think that they should feel even better, which might make them less happy overall.” On the subject of happiness, she also discusses that, “It is more than simply feeling pleasure and avoiding pain. Happiness is about having experiences that are meaningful and valuable, including emotions that you think, are the right ones to have,” the ones that seem appropriate at the time, even if those emotions are negative or unpleasant.

Researchers also found that people who were open to experiencing both positive and negative emotions reported greater life satisfaction and fewer symptoms of depression. It suggests that being aware of and accepting your uncomfortable emotions without judging or trying to change can help you cope more effectively with stressors.

Judging, resisting, or trying to remove your emotional experience won’t help you recover, grow or even feel better. On the contrary, resistance prolongs your pain and may amplify the emotions that you are trying to get rid of. It also delays dealing effectively with the situation that causes pain. Repressed emotions may accumulate and wind up creeping up on you when you feel the most vulnerable and don’t have the resources to chase them away anymore.

Emotions are not good or bad in themselves; however, they can be pleasant or unpleasant. They are an important source of information that are useful to be acknowledged. Unpleasant emotions often arise from an unsatisfied need. For example, you can feel frustrated and sad with work if your need for recognition and respect is not satisfied; you can feel anxious when your need for security (emotional, financial…) is challenged.

Surrendering and accepting is not the same as resignation. It doesn’t mean giving up all hopes that things will get better and it doesn’t mean dwelling in your pain either. It means accepting and acknowledging that for now, this is what is happening at the moment. It is accepting that there are things you cannot control. If you are unhappy in your relationship, you can work with your partner on changing the dynamic, communicating better, and so on… while at the same time allowing the facts that right now, the situation is complicated, that this is a frustrating and tiring process and even maybe that “it sucks!”

Practicing acceptance and welcoming your emotions are about meeting you where you are in life and moving forward from there.

When you open up to a friend about something you are struggling with, before looking for their advice or opinion, don’t you appreciate it when they truly listen to you? When they validate your feelings and experience? And if they move on to problem-solving too quickly or suggest that you “just relax” or “snap out of it” you may end up feeling not understood and “wrong”. Then don’t do that to yourself! Give yourself that space and time to feel what you feel. You deserve to give yourself that much compassion.

Written by:
Lucie Ramet
Clinical Psychologist
SACAC Counselling

References:

Brett Q. Ford, Phoebe Lam, Oliver P. John, Iris B. Mauss. “The Psychological Health Benefits of Accepting Negative Emotions and Thoughts: Laboratory, Diary, and Longitudinal Evidence.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2017; DOI: 10.1037/pspp0000157

Maya Tamir, Shalom H. Schwartz, Shige Oishi and Min Y. Kim. “The Secret to Happiness: Feeling Good or Feeling Right?” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (Online first publication, August 14, 2017) DOI: 10.1037/xge0000303

Christine Carter’s article “How to stop being a control freak” in the Greater Good Magazine  https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_stop_being_a_control_freak

Extinguishing Burnout

A few days ago, I ran across a Twitter feed that originally posted last November. The quote resonated strongly with me, begging me to sit with the question of why do we so often neglect ourselves for work? Is it to… get recognised? Prove our worth? Win? The quote came from Katy Leeson, Managing Director of the Social Chain. She wrote:

One of the reasons this struck such a deep chord in me is that not only have I seen this create a greater impact on people during the pandemic by eroding the mental and emotional well-being of my clients, but in my own life I have had to remind myself that I need to pause and take time to set limits on myself, to not use my exhaustion as a measure of my worth or to forego my own need to self-care in service to others. 

I have noticed that people are more willing to forego self-care to focus on what they feel “needs” to get done. What if we change this message? What if we begin to foster the belief that what needs to get done is self-care, setting limits on work, and putting ourselves first? Because in truth, we really aren’t doing anyone any good if we are burnt out; our work suffers, our loved ones suffer, and we suffer. We become defined by what we do and not who we are. And as the term burnout suggests, our light goes out.

So how do we change that? And how do we even know when our light is in danger of being extinguished? The Mayo Clinic explains that burnout can be caused by a myriad of situations and circumstances including:

  • Lack of control at work in your schedule, your resources, and your assignments. 
  • Unclear expectations at work or not feeling like you are not sure of your roles and responsibilities.
  • Lack of emotional connection and support at work- this could be difficulty with interpersonal dynamics of colleagues, feeling isolated, or having no feeling of purpose for your work. 
  • Extremes of activity or stagnation – meaning that you are expected to always be “on” or that your work feels monotonous and nothing new or developmental is occurring.
  • Work-life imbalance – the idea that so much of your time is dedicated to work and your relationships and abilities to connect socially and emotionally begin to suffer; if your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don’t have the energy to spend time with your family and friends, you might burn out quickly.
  • Having a high workload – this could be working long hours, having many calls/video conferences.

When any of these circumstances exist in our professional life, we need to be more aware of how we are impacted, what our internal experiences are throughout our days and nights. How do we change our expectations of ourselves to ensure that we are able to make it through the tough times in our professions and in our lives? 

Part of that change is being honest with ourselves about what is going on for us emotionally. If we stop long enough to notice if we are experiencing increased anxiety or stress, insomnia, irritability, sadness, or lower immune functioning we need to pay attention. We need to listen to what our symptoms are telling us and adjust our work. Each symptom is a little alarm, pointing out the need for something to be different. 

This shift doesn’t have to be momentous, but maybe it’s about setting a schedule that is more clearly defined. Maybe is it finding time to dedicate to ourselves, whether that is meditating, working out or spending more time with friends. Maybe it is taking off work for a week to re-evaluate what our core values are and if they are being met. It can feel challenging to begin to make those changes, especially if we are feeling that our worth or success are tied to the experience that is causing the burnout. 

Whatever the reason for the feeling of burnout, the important thing to remember is that if you begin to allow yourself time to be more than your work, to stop wearing your “burnout like a badge of honour,” you can begin not only to find more appreciation for who you are as a person, but you can be an example to those around you on how to live a more well-rounded and meaningful life. You may even shine a little brighter, feel a little healthier, for a little longer. As Rabbi Herald Kushner has said, “Nobody on their deathbed has ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office’.”

Written by:
Kimberly Fisel

Counsellor, Marriage & Family Therapist, Leadership Development Coach
SACAC Counselling

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/burnout/art-20046642

Don’t do that; you’ll hurt yourself!

I often write these blogs in a light-hearted way. I try to think of you, the reader (hopefully more than one, but you are important enough) – not necessarily an expert but perhaps someone with more than a passing interest in mental health. In trying to engage you, I offer something of importance while remembering that we all have other things in our lives too. So here is a quick question for you: which word links the 2 points from the APA Dictionary of Psychology below?

  1. a pattern of unnecessarily engaging in activities or behaviors that are dangerous or highly subject to chance.
  2. accepting a challenging task that simultaneously involves potential for failure as well as for accomplishment or personal benefit. 

Did you guess? Oh, well done. Yes, the word is risk.  Did you notice how they sounded different, but actually talked about the same thing? They are 2 sides of the same coin. Risk is a game of chance; it might be fun, but it might not. And it may be preoccupying more and more of us. 

A couple of years ago, you might have been less consumed by this topic, but along came a pandemic to adjust your thinking. Now we all regularly assess risk in a very overt way. It may not just be that, though. Perhaps it simply did what a virus does – reveal and feed off underlying conditions. You can’t get very far in daily life now without being accosted by a set of instructions; and 10 people lined up to tell you how to do it. Whatever happened to Lego? Didn’t you just build it? Not anymore – use the manual. Creativity is being increasingly managed.

Along with creativity comes risk. There is a chance something may not work, but you have the freedom to develop things that might. Yet much of life now is trained, instructed or more subtly guided. How many ‘gentle reminders’ have you had lately? Incessant calls you get to confirm an appointment are perhaps part of a concerted effort to eliminate risk. It may be something to guard against.

Risk has a very necessary role in life. At our core, we are curious beings and this is what fuels our development. Some of us do more with this than others, depending on our life circumstances and temperaments, but we all encounter it. Perhaps noticing how often we do is important; ever run down the stairs, or should I say escalators now – you could hurt yourself! Have you ever watched the fear that some people have when stepping onto them? We may all have very different approaches to balancing risk; I say balancing rather than managing, as to manage something may take the sting and the life out of it. 

This is very tempting to do with children. Armbands and stabilisers are very necessary to a point – which is always determined individually – but they also detract from the reality of an experience. It is frightening to give young people a role in their own experiences – you can usually smell the impending disaster from a long way off. This can encourage a desire in the grown-ups to control things. This is sometimes wholly necessary but when it doesn’t fit the child or the situation, it may encourage more than it prevents. It can be very difficult to work out the danger or benefit of an experience without involving your children in the thinking. If the level of risk may be determined by the context and the nature of support available, thinking about it together may be vital.

Written by:
Robert Leveson

Psychotherapist & Counsellor
Children and Families (Reg; TSP, BPC & APACS)

SACAC Counselling

References:

American Psychological Association; APA Dictionary of Psychology.  https://dictionary.apa.org 

Wider Reading:

Zuckerman, M. (2007). Sensation seeking and risky behavior. American Psychological Association.

https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m2913.long

Introduction to Hypnosis

As the famous psychologist Professor Hans Eysenck stated, “Very few topics in the whole history of mankind have given rise to so many absurdities, misunderstandings, and misconceptions.”

There are many myths about hypnosis, mostly coming from stage and media presentations, however, setting aside pop culture clichés, hypnosis is a well-studied and legitimate form of treatment for conditions ranging from obesity and pain to anxiety and stress. The word “hypnosis” has many connotations: for some people, it conjures up visions of a stage entertainer who uses hypnosis to make volunteers behave foolishly for the audience’s amusement. At the other extreme are those who, in our self-help era, see hypnosis as a quick and easy cure-all for their problems, from smoking to chronic back pain. Hypnosis is neither a tool to control others’ minds nor a panacea. It is, rather, a natural phenomenon that helps people harness their inner resources to improve their physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

The ability to hypnotize or to be hypnotized is latent in everyone. Hypnosis can be naturally induced without a formal induction procedure and is part of everyday human existence. When we become so absorbed in a book or a film that we are oblivious to external stimuli, we have put ourselves in a light hypnotic trance. When a mother kisses a child’s hurt to “make it better,” she is using the principle of hypnotic suggestion. In a clinical setting, these principles are applied in such a way that their effects are heightened and directed to specific problems.

Clinical hypnosis is entering a modern renaissance. In 1955, the British Medical Association formally approved hypnosis as a valid and supported therapeutic technique. In 1958, the American Medical Association and the American Dental Association sanctioned its use in treatment. Research continues to explore the brain functioning in hypnosis and to support its efficacy and ways for it to be used more widely and effectively in clinical settings. We now know that hypnosis works by modulating activity in brain regions associated with focused attention, and several studies offer compelling new details regarding neural capacity for hypnosis.

When hypnotized, a patient is not asleep (recurrent misunderstanding) but in a state of relaxed attentive alert, able to hear, speak, move around, and think. The electroencephalogram (EEG) of a hypnotized person is that of someone who is awake rather than asleep. Reflexes, such as the knee jerk, which are absent during sleep, are present under hypnosis. It is common for persons who have achieved a light trance to argue that they haven’t been hypnotized at all.

“While most people fear losing control in hypnosis, it is in fact a means of enhancing mind-body control,” Prof. D. Spiegel (Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine) says. Instead of allowing pain, anxiety or other unhelpful states to run the show, hypnosis helps people to exert more control over their thoughts and perceptions. How does hypnosis do this? Spiegel’s research has shown it can act on multiple brain regions, including some linked to pain perception and regulation. Hypnosis has also been found to quiet parts of the brain involved in sensory processing and emotional response.

Hypnosis is not an otherworldly phenomenon, but a natural, fascinating, and valuable resource available to each of us.

Written by:
Laura Spalvieri

Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Transactional Analyst &
Hypnotherapist

SACAC Counselling

References:

https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2012/10/not-getting-sleepy-research-explains-why-hypnosis-doesnt-work-for-all.html

https://www.drgeorgepratt.com/hypnosis-myths-realities-from-a-clinical-hypnosis-primer/

https://www.ukhypnosis.com/2019/08/08/cutting-through-the-5-myths-of-hypnosis-part-1/

https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2019/january/hypnosis

What is EMDR?

What and Who is EMDR for?

EMDR, also known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy was first developed in 1987 by Francine Shapiro. It is a well-supported, extensively researched, and efficient psychotherapy approach used to treat a variety of distressing life events and issues. This clinical treatment approach has been endorsed by many international organizations as an effective treatment modality including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the World Health Organization (WHO). EMDR therapy can benefit clients exposed to trauma, violence and who experience stress-related difficulties, mood issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and panic attacks, eating disorders, as well as grief and loss, chronic medical conditions, and pain. 

How EMDR Works

EMDR is a complex, systematic and integrative psychotherapeutic approach that draws upon multiple psychological orientations including cognitive-behavioral, motivational interviewing, somatic and psychodynamic therapies. 

EMDR is an eight-phase model that takes the client through a process that is thoughtfully and intentionally developed for clients to work through the alleviation of distress associated with their memories. Some of the eight phases include history taking, client preparation, assessment and desensitization. 

At the crux of EMDR treatment is the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model that allows information to be adaptively processed to a point at which the associations made to a distressing incident are integrated into positive cognitions and emotions. With the use of directed eye movements, the information processing system is activated. Eventually, clients may find resolution in that helpful learnings are made available for use in the future.

What Clients Need to Know about EMDR

It is important to consult with an EMDR-trained therapist as this is a mental health intervention. You could ask your therapist questions about whether EMDR would be an effective approach for you and address any questions or concerns you may have about it. It is also important that you feel comfortable collaborating with your therapist.

Written by:
Isabelle Ong

Clinical Mental Health Counsellor for Individuals & Groups, Children, Adolescents and Couples
Ph.D., LCMHCA, NCC (USA)
SACAC Counselling

References:

EMDR Institute, Inc. (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.emdr.com/

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy. (2017). American
Psychological Association. Retrieved from:
https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/treatments/eye-movement-reprocessing