What is Different about a Memory after Flash

There was a lot of partial understanding about what was happening to memories inside Flash in the first few years after it was introduced.  A good chunk of this is inevitable with something that is new.  It took Shapiro several years to understand that what was happening in EMDR was bigger than memories simply losing some distress.  A lot of the confusion for Flash, I think, comes from the fact that Flash was developed by an EMDR trainer and it emerged in a very specific and existing institutional and training context.  There are advantages to this.  Flash was designed and billed, perhaps too much to fit into this context and this audience.  It was dressed to look like, feel like, and plug into an existing EMDR worldview… and it is still viewed in many circles as an awkward little sister to EMDR Therapy.  But Flash is growing up.  It’s developing a voice and identity of its own.  And it teaches us clearly and articulately about one way that humans can rescue the self from the past.

  • It was understood almost exclusively as a way to lower heat in memories
  • It was viewed primarily as a resource to do in preparation of the real work of EMDR (almost as a way to salvage the unsteady marriage of EMDR and complex trauma and of course other interventions in the last three decades have tried to step into the rockiness of that relationship).
  • In short, Flash was viewed as helpful, but not transformative.  It was not and still is not widely viewed as an approach to psychotherapy.  If Flash does what I claim it does, it has to become an approach to psychotherapy. It simply has to.  If this is a way that humans can fully and adaptively heal, it cannot simply be a technique.
  • I think we have since learned that Flash often didn’t fully resolve memories regularly six years ago because we were not doing Flash approaches well.
  • Now, it’s no longer controversial among those who have done a lot of Flash well to say that Flash fully resolves memories.
  • And resolves memories using every metric that we would consider a memory resolved in EMDR or any other transformational psychotherapy.
  • You do not need to believe this.  Flash resolves memories to zero distress, there is a positive belief about the self and the world that the client will believe right now related to that memory, and memories resolved in Flash do generalize… yes, probably not as much as in EMDR, but they do generalize.
  • It is no longer controversial to claim that Flash lets you get there.  By saying that, I do not mean to imply that how you take the journey doesn’t matter.  Airplane Cleveland Hopkins > San Francisco… Cleveland > Drive to San Francisco.
  • Sometimes clients just need to heal.  And it’s only great news that we can put most clients on a plane and get them there.
  • If you are an EMDR therapist, you may be under the impression that EMDR causes shifts in cognition.  It does because it is a transformational psychotherapy.  Healing transforms trauma and healing causes shifts in cognition.  That’s what healing means.  Same thing for generalization.  Healing causes memories to generalize.  Shapiro just got an up-close view of healing.  Now you will also, but from another angle when you also have Flash on your toolbench.

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