Combine the Wisdom of the Past with Neuroscience and Innovation for Fast Effective Results in the Recovery of Trauma. Yildiz Sethi
Published in the Science of Psychotherapy June 2020
In this article I propose that we are at the point of evolution in psychotherapy and mind science where we have the opportunity to significantly advance how we perceive and work with the mind and dysfunction, in mental health recovery. There is an opportunity to come out of the divisive and often defensive positions that have developed between the wide range of major psychotherapeutic approaches by acknowledging and utilising the rich fabric of knowledge and skills available with neuroscientific developments. In adopting a more unified approach for more effective practice towards positive mental health outcomes and trauma recovery, I will outline some essential elements from major current psychotherapies, with some of their assumptions about mental health and trauma related issues and what is considered to be the best practice in management or recovery. I will discuss a limited range of therapeutic processes in this article, including essential aspects coming from the latest research in neuroscience. A fuller discussion of these are presented in my book Rapid Core Healing: Pathways to Growth and Emotional Healing (2016), where a deeper exploration of the major modalities of psychotherapy are provided, as well as their benefits and limitations, with research, neuroscience and case studies and an introduction of more unified, and effective ways of working with the mind.
Since the time of Freud, practitioners and researchers have sought to understand the brain and nervous system, mind and consciousness and why some people suffer from mental illnesses. Most of all, how to assist in their recovery or manage symptoms. It is with this intention, and noticing what my clients repeatedly confirmed in their responses, that a new approach came into being: Emotional Mind Integration. This approach has developed over sixteen years of exploration and experience of a wide range of psychotherapies, hypnotherapies and Systemic Family Constellations in private practice. My clients showed me that when the essential elements for wellness were available, they were able to utilise their natural impulse for self-healing in their recovery from a wide range of disturbances and traumas in improving their mental health.
In looking at most psychotherapy modalities I find that most focus primarily on one area of focus to engage clients in the therapeutic process. These are often: Talk Therapy – the story, beliefs and cognitions, and emotions; while other established modalities, such as Gestalt therapy, focus primarily on completing ‘unfinished business’ in a variety of experimental and experiential ways towards growth and integration of the personality. This may include the story, cognitions, emotions and re-enacting life experiences that are perceived to have had an impact on the present.
Emotional Mind Integration includes the essential elements required for more effective and faster outcomes in the therapeutic process, by clearing one neural pathway at a time of disturbances and trauma, within each session. I have found that this way of working requires only a few sessions for recovery in a large percentage of cases (excluding more serious DSM5 diagnoses such as schizophrenia, as these groups have not been included in my private practice and therefore, I don’t know how they may respond). I will briefly outline some of the major traditional therapeutic approaches involving Talk Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Humanistic approaches (such as Emotionally focused approaches and Gestalt therapy) and how a new approach that includes the key elements of present key approaches may come together with neuroscience in a new and more effective and efficient approach for mental health and trauma recovery.
Working with Symptoms
Freud introduced talk-therapy as a therapeutic process that has been widely accepted into the present, in the belief, that the story people have of themselves is an avenue to their inner world. It is true that the story does indicate what the client perceives as problems and may show their beliefs, thoughts, behaviour and feelings. It may also show the situations in life that are perceived to have had an impact on them. In many psychotherapies and particularly in Rogerian counselling it is believed that in the telling of the story, there is a debrief or download of the mind that may lead to the unravelling of problems, discovery of solutions and shifts in awareness and the arrival of major points of insight, leading to growth and healing over time.
In my work with clients, I have found a focus on the story to be useful for awareness-raising, grief and loss, but largely inefficient for the recovery of mental health and trauma related issues. The process of client-centred talk therapy frequently requires many sessions to work through issues. There is no doubt that in listening and paying full attention to a client enables them to feel heard, understood and validated and for rapport and trust to develop in the therapeutic relationship. Rapport has been found in many studies to be a vital prerequisite to a good outcome in counselling and psychotherapy. However, I have found that it is important not to get too involved in the story itself, as it is largely an interpretation only of experiences and may be a deflection from the real issue.
This is because human beings are programmed to make meaning of their experiences and this is largely influenced by the quality of their relationships with significant others, such as parents and care givers in their formative years. These initial experiences provide important messages to the neural pathways in the brain and mind, as to the reception we appear to have with significant others. This is highly influential in the development of the sense of self and worthiness and hence becomes a large factor in how we make meaning. This is because these early interactions provide the sensory information of how others receive us and hence becomes an inner assessment of our intrinsic value. A child may experience being welcomed with great love and perceived as ‘precious’, or alternatively, ‘not seen’, or ‘not heard’, or even as ‘bad’. Such messages go deep in developmental mind and form an individual’s sense of self and self-worth and hence self-esteem that is often life-long, unless they can be changed.
In terms of the interpretive reality of the story, it is interesting to observe that children from the same family may have similar memories or alternatively, very different interpretation of what happened and what it means for them. Children in the same family often have different experiences of their parents and form a different quality of connection with them, which creates a unique perception of family life. This may be due to their position in the family, (first, second, third child and so on), the emotional state of each parent at the time of their birth, the events that took place during their formative years and the stressors on the family at those times.
This demonstrates that the problem in making the person’s story the major focus of the therapeutic process is unreliable, because it is primarily formed through perception and this may be at variance with reality. However, perception is indeed important, but a poor perception of oneself is slow or difficult to change by focusing on the story through talk therapy. This is explored in the chapter, The Toxic story in my book Rapid Core Healing.
What I have found of benefit in the client’s story, is to listen to its themes of life and the thinking process of the person concerned. In particular, to notice beliefs, feelings and behaviour and the facts or events that have been significant in their formative or adult years. For example, if the client’s parents stayed together or not, or whether there were any major problems in childhood or family life. I have found such verifiable facts to be more important information for the therapeutic process than the story that people have of themselves.
In cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the main focus is on thoughts, cognitions and behaviour, with a CBT understanding of what is considered to be normal or abnormal. CBT is the primary psychotherapeutic modality advocated by the medical model. It came into being after the psychoanalytical and psychodynamic eras of development in the 1960’s, in an attempt to create more scientific and evidence-based practices for the mental health of the masses. Through the development and practice of CBT there has been extensive research and vast amounts of literature produced to demonstrate the importance of thoughts and cognitions as an indicator of mental health. This approach has presented evidence to show for example, that optimistic, flexible and rational thoughts are a reliable indicator of good mental health while the opposite, pessimistic, rigid and irrational thoughts, are an indicator of poorer mental health. The cognitive behavioural therapy approach has developed into a diverse range of techniques and strategies to challenge and attempt to change thoughts and cognitions, in the understanding that if we can identify the problems in thinking or beliefs and understand them, we may be able to assist in changing the problematic thoughts towards a healthier norm.
While this sounds like a good plan and may work for some, many people continue to find it hard to change their thoughts and beliefs through these approaches. Patients or clients that fail to make positive changes may be diagnosed with a DSM5 mental illness and prescribed medication. This is predicated on the concept that if a model that is so researched and respected cannot elicit change, then, generally, change is not possible.
Norman Doidge, a psychiatrist, said in his book, The Brains Way of Healing, (2015) that there is an underlying belief by many in this model that the brain is largely hard-wired and cannot be changed, hence the cognitive behavioural focus is on managing symptoms only, and often for life.
Another psychotherapeutic focus is on emotions. These are normally the focus of more recent humanistic psychotherapies that are client centred, in the belief that if the client can fully experience their emotional and cognitive states in many different ways, they may process what needs to be processed and integrate them into new awareness and growth. More recently the importance of emotions as an indicator of mental health has arisen in awareness, particularly for those who work outside the medical model. Emotions have become the primary focus of therapeutic processing as presented by Goldman R.N. (2016) in his book Emotional Focused Therapy: Humanistic psychotherapies. In these approaches the focus is on the processing of presenting emotions through talk, creative therapies and somatic experience. There are many approaches within this area that may assist clients to regain control of mood and functioning in variable amounts of time. This may range from a few months to much longer periods of time.
Gestalt therapy is another humanistic client-centred psychotherapy that encourages clients to experience rather than talk about past situations that may be affecting their present lives, in an attempt to encourage them to stop thinking of the past and stay more in the present. This is generally a long-term approach that engages a wide variety of techniques and experiences to encourage the release of emotions and new perspectives and awareness to arise.
In my assessment it seems that traditional psychotherapy primarily focuses on one area of human experience. Symptoms rather than cause and engages in research of the experience of the disturbance, rather than its cause or possible methodologies for recovery, with the belief that change or recovery is a slow process, if it is a possibility.
The primary approach of many approaches focus on symptoms in the present and apply methodologies that are aimed at modifying or resolving disturbances in the here and now, without attempts to locate or work with the cause. Through their modality of choice they engage the client through one of the following. This may be, the story, emotions, thoughts and cognitions, or experiences, with the belief that any improvements that may arise in those areas, may have a positive flow-on effect to other areas of mental health. The treatment time for these approaches may range from months to years and deliver a range of results.
There has been a belief that deep psychological or emotional change or healing, if it can take place at all, is a slow process. Takes time. This is a belief. With the wealth of psychological knowledge from the past and present and current neuroscience, improvements in my experience change and recovery may take place relatively quickly. Particularly, if we hit all the appropriate buttons accurately and efficiently in effective processes, for clients who are ready for change.
The reasons for how these approaches developed lie in their emergence after the psychoanalytical and psychodynamic of the early 1900’s. This was as an attempt to find more productive and effective ways of working with the mind, that did not involve delving into the past, or the unconscious mind. This was probably because the people of that time didn’t have the knowledge or skills to do so and so chose to work with what was observable and current in the life of the client. That being the symptoms and observable behaviour or experiences, rather than what might be considered illusive and hard to grasp in trying to locate the cause of symptoms, that may be buried in developmental or former times and the unconscious mind.
It appears that each approach has been doing the best it can within its area of knowledge and practice, while largely staying within their own fields. This has led to a situation where many branches of traditional counselling and psychotherapy that were developed decades ago, when there was limited psychological and neuroscience knowledge, have continued to stay separated for the most part, rather than collaborate in joining forces in more unified approaches. Perhaps we have reached a time where sharing knowledge and innovation may take place, so that new approaches may emerge from the vast amount of joint experience and wisdom that is available now.
The Mind and Trauma
In going back to the beginning of working with the mind, Freud developed the model of the conscious and unconscious mind. He put forward the theory that the mind protects the individual from shock and overwhelm, by automatically repressing painful events into the unconscious mind. Freud understood that suppressed painful materials are frequently at the root of psychological disturbances and experimented with a range of methodologies to access and work in this area. With this in mind he experimented with hypnosis, but was largely unsuccessfully, due to the lack of knowledge and skills available in this area and at that time. He discovered Talk-Therapy as a way of accessing the mind over time, which developed into psychoanalysis. Unfortunately, this approach required years in therapy and delivered questionable results and was available only to those who could afford the time and money. Through his talk therapy he discovered the impact that formative years have on personality development and the effects that family connections have on psychological development and wellness. Freud discovered key points about the mind and what causes problems. These that remain valid in psychotherapy now. This was followed by many much further development and innovation from following practitioners that included John Bowlby’s work on Attachment Theory.
In looking at the brain, mind and consciousness, we still have a long way to go in understanding it fully. We don’t understand the full extent of the brain’s capacity and function and how it is connected to the mind and consciousness. Research continues to find out how the brain, mind and body are connected through neural networks and how it functions with hormones and essential biochemistry. We are just beginning to understand that much control and influence comes from the mind and brain to the body and more recently we are coming to understand how the body also has an influence on the mind and brain (the gut and heart mind) (Goldhill, 2020). Additionally, we are only beginning to understand the impact that our external environment (relationships, emotions, stress, ecology, situations and events) have on our inner physical and psychological worlds and how they impact our formative years and, frequently, our adulthood.
The brain and nervous system are an intrinsic part of physicality, while the mind is a more elusive concept. I see the mind as the invisible, transcendent world of thought, feeling, attitude, belief and imagination that is not confined to the brain or body and is responsible for the understanding of experiences and development of thought processes and such concepts as conscience and moral compass. This is complex. Nevertheless, leading edge practitioners continue to work with and discover how the brain and mind function, through research, development and practice with real people.
Many have sought to understand the mind though models. There are many models of the mind and one that I find useful in terms of psychotherapy is the idea of the conscious and unconscious mind; the conscious being only approximately seven percent of the whole. J Kluger in Why Your Pretty Much Unconscious All The Time(2020), agrees with Sigmund Freud’s theory that we are controlled far more than we realise by the unconscious mind. If the unconscious mind is so important, perhaps our focus should be there.
In looking at the mind, there has been a growing awareness of the role that trauma plays in mental health and how it can cause dysfunction. In the context of the medical model, Bridgestone Recovery Centre (2020) suggest that trauma and PTSD are seen, like most mental illnesses, as not strictly curable. However, many, including psychiatrist Norman Doidge in his book The Brain’s Way of Healing (2010), made the point that the medical model of mental health is underpinned by a belief that is over four hundred years old: that mental health is hard wired in the brain and can’t be changed. Doidge gives several examples from his own clinical practice where this is shown to be untrue with supporting neuroscience evidence showing that the brain has the capacity to constantly rewire itself and heal.
In terms of trauma, there have been studies by Peter Levine in In an unspoken voice:
How The Body Releases Trauma And Restores Goodness (2010) and others that provide new knowledge of trauma, how it is caused and how it may be treated that provides avenues for more successful treatments. In looking at trauma, Peter Levine’s work shows that if the individual is able to respond appropriately to a threat of danger by running away or fighting back successfully, it seems that the trauma related biochemicals including adrenaline are utilised in providing the energy required for the task and afterwards there remains little if any trace in the mind or body, only a memory. None or little trace of trauma or disturbance. However, where the response was to freeze or to endure experiences such as injustice, horror, humiliation or shame, it appears that remnants of those situations remain suppressed in the unconscious mind, or body, or both with often no, or alternatively, intermittent memory and flash-backs. It is these unresolved traumas that become unstable time-bombs in the mind and body. Triggers that are linked to the unconsciously stored and arrested trauma response that periodically travels through the neural networks to the conscious mind, where it emerges as physical sensations and extreme emotional states. This is supported by studies that have shown that the mind and body remember the trauma and overwhelming situations that could not be resolved in the event. This is described by Babette Rothchild (2000) in The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment.
Generally traumatic and painful materials are repressed in the unconscious mind and body, where they become a source of active and involuntary triggers to physical and emotional responses in everyday life. These may be set-off by otherwise ordinary situations such as a word, sound, smell or situation that may trigger a physical or psychological reaction of fear, anger or any other response.
Working with the mind and heart
In my practice, I have discovered that trauma is at the core of a large proportion of mental health issues. Through experience with clients I have developed a description of trauma that occupies a continuum from what might be considered mild, to the most extreme – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If we acknowledge that the body is designed to respond to shocks, overwhelm and trauma to enable survival, and the mind is focused primarily on survival and has evolved to repress what could not be handled or was too painful, then we have an introduction to the fight and flight response.
In looking at the effects that trauma has on the mind and body, I have found the mechanism for fight and flight responses and their impacts, are similar throughout the trauma continuum, although their intensity increases as the range moves towards the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder end. In my practice, I have found that a young child who is beaten by a parent, shamed by a teacher or bullied by classmates, experiences a much higher level of trauma than we may have expected that is similar to PTSD. When we look at the experience through the senses and mind of a vulnerable child, there may have been a real fear that they would not survive. This points to the possibility that there may be many more cases of trauma related disorders than many practitioners may realise. These may often be the underlying dynamics of many mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety and may be a significant component of some more serious mental health disorders as well.
If skills and experiences from a wide range of approaches could be extracted that include key current innovations and therapeutic approaches with verifiable results and put together with the latest findings in neuroscience into one complete process, there would be significant progress in our approach to mental health and trauma recovery.
Emotional Mind Integration works with a range of trauma in a brief way and is a combination of psychotherapy and neurotherapy.
The process may be split into three main stages within each session.
- The first is following the physical symptom though the natural impulse of neural pathways to the specific core event (cause) in the unconscious mind.
- The second stage involves resourcing the vulnerable emotional and psychological part of the client in the situation and facilitating an appropriate healing pathway for them to follow.
- The third stage involves integration of the new inner experience as the client is guided back to full conscious awareness.
Here are two observations I like to keep in mind:
- Human beings often display symptoms that are caused by painful or traumatic events that are locked in the unconscious mind
- People have a natural desire to design or be active in creating their own solutions.
There are many philosophies and methodologies that have influenced my psychotherapeutic development. A big influence has been the work of Milton Erickson (1901 – 1980) who was an American psychiatrist and psychologist specializing in medical hypnosis and family therapy who discovered that the unconscious mind does not know the difference between reality and fiction. He found he could assist his patients in creating a more favourable outcome or perception, by eliciting their innate ability for imagination and making meaning. He developed a way of creating metaphors of patients’ problems or symptoms and mirroring them back to them in a light trance and found that many recovered. He perfected this conversational hypnosis which is widely known as Ericksonian hypnosis.
Through his methodology Erickson found that it was possible to assist people in changing something of their earlier disturbing experiences to something more palatable and in doing so, aid their recovery. From this we may understand that the reality, the facts, of a situation cannot be changed, but perceptions can. This is important because a change in perception is significant if recovery is to take place. Erickson demonstrated that the utilisation of a trance state is important in gaining access to appropriate repressed materials in the unconscious mind and that a light trance was sufficient for this purpose. He discovered that human beings have an innate imagination and drive to discover their own solutions, if provided with appropriate conditions. In a trance state, patients may create new images or resolutions within the unconscious mind that are closer to how they wished they had responded and thereby regain the core conditions for wellness. These, from an emotional mind integration perspective, are love, connection, safety, justice, dignity and autonomy. This comes out of the natural drive that exists for human resilience for homeostasis. This is the drive and ability to recover or maintain a stable psychological state where possible.
It is interesting that the art and practice of hypnosis, with its ability to access the unconscious mind quickly and easily, has not been taken fully into the psychotherapeutic world. There is no doubt that smears from the past are still present after the vilification of hypnosis that took place when “Reverend M’Neil 1842 declared in the pulpit that ‘all mesmeric phenomena were due to ‘satanic agency,’ without any corroborating evidence,” (Ditrich, 2020). This was driven by the climate of superstition, ignorance and fear of that time that vilified science, innovation and experimentation generally. In addition, the role of hypnotists as tricksters or conjurers in the present, does nothing to build trust or confidence in hypnosis as a reliable therapeutic tool. I believe an open discussion and exploration on the practical and ethical applications of hypnosis should take place in education and psychotherapeutic organisations involving the available reliable research on its benefits and limitations to dispel irrational suspicions and fears that are still in place over its use in therapeutic practice. Hypnosis is simply a tool that may be used to access the unconscious mind so that appropriate therapy may take place. This becomes hypnotherapy and there are wide range of hypnotherapy approaches, with some having come into being a long time ago while new developments continue to evolve.
Another major influence on my work is Family Constellations, founded by Bert Hellinger in the 1990’s who was a philosopher, and practitioner who has written many books on this modality. Family Constellations is humanistic, psychodynamic, experiential, phenomenological, brief and solution-focused. The process of Family Constellations greatly informed me about the human condition and the intricacy and profound effects the qualities of relational connections have on development, that are frequently maintained into adult life. In this modality the human need for connection and love is the focus. Family Constellations greatly informed me as to what is required in psychological healing processes and showed me how to facilitate the resolution of psychological pain and the letting go of burdens with clients. This has been fundamental in the formulation of the healing pathways used in Emotional Mind Integration. Family Constellations has been instrumental in working very effectively with systemic (generational) trauma that was presented as early as (2008) by Franke Ruppert in Trauma Bonding and Family Constellations
Ego state therapy by Gordon Emmerson the author of Resource Therapy (2014) is another major influence on my work, as this showed me how psychological states may be regressed and utilised in creating healing solutions in hypnosis.
Emotional Mind Integration comes out of the psychotherapeutic and hypnosis wisdom and knowledge of the past and present and is integrated with neuroscience in providing a way to quickly heal wounds from the past and let go of the burdens that people carry.
In looking at the brain and the mind, around how psychotherapy practices can aid the rewiring of the brain, there is significant information from neuroscience about what may be involved to enable the possibility of changing perspectives.
Neuroscience research has demonstrated that the brain can change. Bruce Lipton a neurobiologist and researcher in neuroscience and epigenetics who wrote The Biology of Belief (2015) said, that the brain has been shown to be neuroplastic with the capacity to change and rewire under appropriate conditions, making healing and recovery a real possibility. The limbic system in the brain is a highly complex set of subsystems that is the emotional centre and also controls bodily functions and perceives sensory information. Importantly for the development of new psychotherapeutic processes, it is necessary to know that within the limbic system, the amygdala is responsible for the formation of new memories from past experiences. This provides vital information for new psychotherapeutic processes to come into being with new more optimistic expectations in terms of mental health recovery, for a large proportion of the population. David Hawkins (psychiatrist) in his book Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender (2014) brings forth the information that the unconscious mind does not know the difference between past and present. This means that we can work with an issue in the unconscious mind that took place in the past, as if it is in the present towards a more suitable outcome in a situation and thereby provide a pathways to deep psychological self-healing for clients. This can take place if we work with the subconscious mind, not the cognitive or conscious mind.
In terms of neuro-psychotherapeutic procedure, it seems there are key elements required for psychological healing that when set up in a structured sequence, that is designed to work with the body and mind, include many aspects through the process where deep, fast change can take place. This may involve all of the following simultaneously; body sensing, body cells and organs, neural pathways, the brain, emotions and thoughts, enable a reordering of thoughts and feelings to take place. This allows new neural networks to form and be integrated into consciousness as new perspectives emerge both within and after the session. Trauma and distressed emotions may be released in this way and in being cleared from neural pathways, new feelings and perceptions may emerge. If this is done with the aid of a trance, we have a form of neuro-trance psychotherapy, Emotional Mind Integration.
The Healing process
Problem/symptom > Cause > Solution > Integration > New perspective
This healing process appreciates the intrinsic value of each stage of the process and the bigger value of the whole in one seamless stream, in providing a pathway for healing the mind and heart and clearing neural pathways, so new healthier networks can develop.
The key elements for a session are:
- A clear intention or goal for the session
- Clarity of the symptoms to be addressed
- Access to the unconscious mind – frequently by light trance
- Regression via neural pathways to the core event for the symptom
- Setting up safety and support for the disturbed emotional-mind part, (to avoid re-traumatisation)
- Facilitation of a healing pathway for what has arisen in a safe manner (e.g., completing 1. ‘fight and flight’ responses or 2. resolving relationship interactions or 3. unfinished business and 4. expression and release of emotions)- all within the minds-eye using Emotional Mind Integration techniques
- Integration into consciousness to complete the process
If all of these elements are experienced in-Situ (in being able to revisit the original situation in a safe way within the mind of the person) a new experience may be formed and new perspectives and self-esteem increased.
This works with a range of trauma in a brief way and is a combination of psychotherapy and neurotherapy. Emotional Mind Integration is where the presenting symptom of a problem may be elicited in the body that manifests as a physical sensation, then traced back quickly through neural pathways to the origin of the symptom. This is a neuro-regression technique that frequently, but not always, takes place in a light trance state. This provides access to the repressed materials through an Emotional Mind Integration process called ‘body-sensing’ precisely to the specific repressed material that is linked to the presenting symptom in daily life. In this process the original disturbance in the unconscious mind is located.
Many aspects of the core requirements for wellness may be raised: Love Connection Safety Justice Dignity and Autonomy.
In this way complex issues may require only a few sessions in all, to enable significant recovery. By recovery, I mean that the presenting symptoms of disturbed emotions, or thoughts and trauma triggers will be gone, significant change takes place and new perspectives come forward. From this position the sessions may cease for that issue for a large proportion of clients, or another issue may be addressed with the same procedure for other cause-based symptoms.
In the Emotional Mind Integration model, human beings are seen as consisting of emotional mind states, most of which are healthy and functional. Healthy mind states develop from birth and mature through all stages of adulthood. However, some of these emotional mind states may become disturbed or traumatised and are arrested in becoming frozen at the age when a disturbing event took place. These are highly vulnerable, unstable states that may be triggered at any time into involuntary responses of behaviour or disturbed emotions.
Many of us may have observed a middle-aged man or woman triggered into a tantrum over something seemingly small, who has the appearance of a child stamping his or her feet. In normal people a disturbed frozen mind state may be triggered into response and, for the time of the response, overpowers all other normal healthy states at least for a while. Most individuals have these, but it is when they become intrusive in the functioning of the person, that they may seek help with their mental health. In Emotional Mind Integration we may work with disturbed, traumatised, depressed, anxious, angry or addicted emotional mind states, to mention only a few.
In working with symptoms, disturbances or trauma with Emotional Mind Integration, the main symptom or issue is identified in the initial interview. Then a light trance is induced and the emotional mind state invited to come forward in the body and be regressed to the original event. This connects the symptom to the origin of the disturbance accurately and quickly through neural pathways in the unconscious mind, with the aid of a light trance state.
At this point a healing pathway is set up for safety (for the disturbed state) and the required resolution is enacted voluntarily in the mind’s eye of the individual with the guidance of the psychotherapist to address what is required. Finally, the resolved emotional mind state is integrated into consciousness with love, to introduce self-love and raise self-esteem, before the client is bought back to full consciousness. This takes place within a session of around 60 minutes. The whole process enables the required qualities for wellness to be addressed: love, connection, safety, justice, dignity and autonomy.
A client saw me about panic attacks she had whenever she approached a bus which she did on a daily basis. She had got to the stage where she was unable to travel to university or work. In the initial conversation, she told me she thought that the people on the bus might hurt her or that the bus would crash.
Only a short amount of time was spent in discussion of the problem and symptoms, but enough to hear her themes and details of the problem and create rapport, so that we could start the Emotional Mind Integration process with her consent. She expressed frustration as she said she had done all she could to get over what she thought of as her irrational fear and behaviour and didn’t like the effect it was having on her life.
In engaging the Emotional Mind Integration process, the disturbed emotional mind state was located in a “body sensing” process to the core event for this issue. The disturbed state was set up with safety in mind as she looked at the original situation.
In looking at the event, she was around the age of twelve feeling very distressed in the presence of her aunt and sister as a bus pulled up. She felt unjustly blamed and shamed for something that had taken place and had not been able to stand up for herself at the time. In her mind’s eye she was able to express herself fully and to imagine the responses from her aunt and sister, as she put the record straight about what had taken place and let go of the burdens she had carried from that time to the present.
Having completed what she needed to, in order to regain a sense of dignity, justice and autonomy, she felt closer to her sister and aunt and was able to let it go.
The process was completed with integration into consciousness. She left my room after a normal sixty-minute session and contacted me a few days later, delighted to let me know that she was able to take the bus without any anxiety or fear. This has remained so for six months so far.
If I had used any of the traditional and present focused (here and now) therapies as mentioned previously in exploring the story, expressing or releasing feelings, or challenging thoughts or behaviour or trying to apply strategies, the treatment is likely to have taken many weeks or months and never uncover the original incident on which her symptoms of panic were built. If I had followed her beliefs (story) that it was about the possibility of danger from people on the bus or a possible accident, we would have wasted time looking in the wrong places, as the cause was locked in her unconscious mind in a totally different sphere of her experience. In short, her story would have taken us in the wrong direction. Further, if I had attempting to process emotions or cognitions in isolation of the causal event, it is likely to have had a limited effect. The aunt and sister event is likely never to have come up as an appropriate and seemingly logical link to her symptoms. The conscious mind is deeply emotional and creative but not logical.
If I had used a present day traditional approach it would probably have involved a gradual opening up of the client, leaving her vulnerable and deeply uncomfortable over weeks, months or longer during the therapeutic process, with a likelihood of a questionable outcome. This would have been a pity when there are speedier and more effective approaches available.
What is required is clarification of the symptom to be addressed, access to the cause and many levels of release, emotional, cognitive and situational in one process to enable the client to find their best solution in a way that avoids re-traumatisation and is completed with integration. This allows an inner space in the mind of the client to be utilised for a more preferable alternative outcome to be experienced in their inner world. This enables release, reordering and rewiring that can result in firing off of new neural pathways during and after a session, signalling significant change on many levels, very quickly.
I have found that human beings have an affinity for problem solving. The mind really appreciates the opportunity to link the problem to its cause in a way that allows them to travel back in time, to sort it out appropriately. Here they can release emotions, express and let go of the stress or trauma around it, sort out unfinished business in completing their fight and flight response more satisfactorily and take responsibility for their part in it, if appropriate. People like to solve problems and they like the ability to be proactive in their solution. This assists with building dignity and autonomy. The real issue involved a deep disturbance that had occurred between my client and the people she loved that involved injustice and a separation from love and connection. This was redressed in her inner experience where love, connection and justice was addressed in a process that was set up internally to be safe.
The Emotional Mind Integration process is client-centred, experiential, solution focused and brief, where the mind, body and neural pathways of the client are provided an appropriate, safe inner space whereby they allow their specific neural networks to lead and be followed under the facilitation of the psychotherapist.
EMI for practitioners
In my practice I have found that EMI is appropriate for issues that have been caused by something, often from the past. These may be disturbances or trauma related. However, it is true that not all issues are trauma based. Issues of grief and loss are examples where counselling from a wide range of approaches may be the most appropriate approaches, as there may be no problem or trauma to solve or release. What is most required is human contact. A friendly ear in sharing, coming to an acceptance, processing grief or discussing options. However, for a large proportion of cases that arrive on our door, many issues have a cause, disturbance or shock as a starting point, so it may be more productive to find ways to locate and work with this within the therapeutic process. In working with cause, there is a need to find effective methodologies to allow the person to go back to the cause in a way that does not re traumatise while facilitate a completion of their fight and flight responses or unfinished business.
Thereby releasing the emotions involved and establishing or re-establishing of the core conditions for wellness before completing with a process of integration. At this time in history we have the knowledge and skills available for this to take place in one process for each neural pathway, so that complex issues may be cleared over a few sessions.
The Emotional Mind Integration process is client-centred, experiential and solution focused, where the mind, body and neural pathways of the client are provided an appropriate safe inner space whereby they are able to allow their specific neural networks to lead and be followed under the facilitation of the psychotherapist. From the client’s perspective re-traumatisation is avoided as the story is not unpacked or reflected on
Some of the benefits here for practitioners in using Emotional Mind Integration are:
- Not knowing where the session will go. As the practitioner (aspiring to adapt a phenomenological stance of not knowing). It is freeing to accept I can’t know the full experience of the client and where the problem may have originated.
- Following where the neural pathway leads in each case.
- Not subjected to vicarious trauma in not having to listen to a traumatic story, just facilitate what the client needs to do in completion in their minds eye.
While the theory of this way of working may seem complex, once the practitioner understands the philosophy, techniques and becomes familiar with it in practice, it is simple. The Emotional Mind Integration approach is deeply foundational in providing a new way of addressing core issues and trauma that may be applied to a wide range of mental health, substance abuse and recovery from sexual abuse related issues in offering brief, effective resolutions. For example, Emotional Mind Integration is highly effective for the recovery from sexual abuse in only a few sessions.
This article is a synthesis of many former and present innovations that provides a way to work more effectively with a wide range of mental health and trauma related issues in a brief way that is both a combination of psychotherapy, hypnotherapy and neurotherapy. The key points are that if we know what elements are required in the healing of the human psyche and we have the knowledge and skills available to enable this to take place in one complete and seamless process, in providing a pathway for release and rewiring of the brain, then we have reached a new paradigm for mental health recovery for a large section of the public. I am open to this modality Emotional mind Integration being researched and tested for validity and to provide statistics.
Yildiz holds training in her own modalities, Emotional Mind Integration and Rapid Core Healing and in Family Constellations training. In her private practice she offers psychotherapy services in person and online and recovery from sexual abuse trauma in only a few sessions.
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