Step Two: Develop and Test the Calm Scene

All reprocessing “work” in Flash is done while the client is experiencing a calming scene.  Step Two is where we develop this calm scene.  Again, Steps One and Two are the hardware of this approach and we’ll use that hardware over and over in subsequent Flash sessions.

The experience can be imaginary, in the form of a video or picture, or can be a process that the client is actively doing–like petting an actual dog or rocking real baby, see Demos One and Five for pets and actual babies).

The therapist will eventually (in Step Four) guide the client to make a series of rapid blinks while experiencing the calm scene, so the calm scene will need to be something the client can go in and out of quickly.  The scene can be anything that is calming, relaxing, distracting, compelling, or interesting.  It needs to be compelling enough to catch the client’s attention and cause an experiential shift that is different than the expectation/schema in the bad memory.

The calm scene, which Phil Manfield calls the Positive Engaging Focus, can be almost anything.  These are examples:

  • The client watches a beautiful, relaxing, or funny video on YouTube or another service.
  • The client remembers a salient scene from a vacation.
  • The client rocking an actual baby or petting an actual dog (or memories of those activities).  Or, the client watching a cute video of her dog or pet.
  • The client playing a musical instrument (or imagining playing one if the client has those skills).
  • The client imagines cooking his favorite recipe (getting out the recipe, etc).  Or, watching cooking videos.  Or the client brings their favorite sandwich to session and spends 35 minutes smelling it and taking little bites of it.
  • The client with piano training imagines playing their favorite piece of music on the piano.
  • The client listens to a song that has a long history of inducing peace and relaxation.
  • The client watches videos of food (hot pizza coming out of the oven, etc).  Assess for disordered eating beforehand.
  • With a child client, have the client find a video of their favorite YouTuber playing their favorite part of their favorite video game.

If the client has complex trauma or a client comes to a session already flooded, it is highly recommended to outsource the scene to a YouTube video.  Anything that the client finds relaxing can work.  It is difficult for many clients with complex trauma to create and notice a rapid shift in affect if the calm scene has to be created through imagination in the five seconds between “blinks.”  A client with a pervasively traumatized system is likely has a very busy head.  The first choice with complex trauma should be to outsource the calm scene to a video that the client selects.

Verify that the client can “go into and load up the senses of the calm place” before proceeding.  Verify that the calm scene induces a calming, comforting, amused, distracted, or relaxing state.

Parts Language: Does this scene/activity/video work for all parts of you?  Do any parts need a different kind of calm scene?  On occasion, different parts of the client will use different calm scenes in a parallel way (like you are teaching and using this resource in a group setting).  See podcast episodes about working with client parts.

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