Taking the Edge Off of Disturbing Memories, Including COVID-19 Pandemic Fears with The Flash Technique

   Painful thoughts and disturbing memories can be hard to tolerate and difficult to face. One relatively new set of thoughts and memories can be fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  During this unprecedented time we are all subject to multiple losses and fears as we are living with a new normal which unfolds and changes sometimes daily. The Flash Technique is something that I have used  with clients to decrease their distress related to this pandemic and it can be done easily through  video conferencing sessions.  I have been quite surprised at how effective this technique has been for clients struggling with these issues.  The Flash Technique was developed in 2017 to take the edge off of painful memories and to lessen the disturbance of the memories without feeling distressed.  While not a replacement for the deep processing, immense relief, and profound healing that EMDR Therapy can provide, the Flash Technique can be used in conjunction with EMDR Therapy and is sometimes used as a precursor to EMDR Therapy - especially if someone is afraid to feel the intensity of the emotions associated with painful memories.  In the next paragraph I will describe how the Flash Technique works.

   During the Flash Technique you are first asked to identify a disturbing memory and to rate your level of disturbance from 0-10.  You are instructed not to describe the memory and not to go into any detail regarding the memory.  You are then asked to put the memory aside and to not think about it.  Next you are asked to come up with what is called a Positive Engaging Focus (PEF).  A PEF is something that is very positive and can hold your attention.  Examples of PEF's include: people, places, pets, activities, and music that you feel good about.  PEF's can be real or imagined, the key is that they must be positive and strong enough  to hold your attention when you focus on them.  The Flash trained Therapist will then take you through a series of eye blinks at strategic times (and might include having you tap your legs or shoulders as well) while you concentrate on the Positive Engaging Focus that you identified.   Following this you are asked to rate your level of disturbance once again when you think of the memory.   After undergoing the Flash Technique the disturbance from the painful memory that you identified usually decreases significantly. During the Flash technique once you have identified the memory you want to work on you are not supposed to think about it.  If this memory leaks through at any point during the Flash Technique the Therapist will provide interventions to address this.  The entire Flash Technique process takes five to ten minutes to complete, allows you to process disturbing memories without feeling distressed, and reduces the level of disturbance of the memory.  The Flash Technique works best with memories associated with mildly disturbing events and it is very important to only undergo this with a trained Therapist, If you have success with the Flash Technique the trained Therapist can teach you how to utilize it yourself with mildly disturbing memories.

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