After sending that post, I realized that one of the results of changing auditory self-talk to a visual representation is that it strips out all the auditory tempo, tonality, accent, etc. (Words on a page have no tonality except what is provided by our reading voice, plus a few clues provided by punctuation (;!?,. etc.)

And since those tonal qualities are the major drivers of the emotional/feeling state, it creates a shift even before any other changes in punctuation, tonality, tempo, etc. That elicits a more neutral response that makes it easier to introduce a different tonal pattern or tempo, etc. when going from the visual back to an auditory representation. This seems totally obvious to me now.

Generalizing, this could be a very useful first step when working with any troublesome dialogue—write it out on paper, or a flip chart, or in space in front of a client before intervening in some other way. (This will tend to strip out the existing nonverbal qualities that are driving the bad feeling in problem contexts.)

Bruce Teall pointed out to me that this is likely an unrecognized factor in CBT’s writing out a sentence on a card to read periodically, and may be a factor in the usefulness of journaling.

This bit of clarity has given me a delicious little burst of pleasure.


CBT and nonverbal interventions

In that same post I wrote that I was not aware that CBT utilized changes in nonverbal aspects of internal self-talk, and asked for references to CBT’s use of nonverbal interventions. Maarten Aalberse, in France, sent me a reference to ACT (which is a “3rd generation” form of CBT) that does indeed include changes in accent, tonality, tempo, location, changing the auditory to a visual representation and then changing the visual representation, as well as a number of metaphors that achieve these kind of changes. I’m glad to be corrected on this.


New video on the resolution of PTSD

At the March, 2014 Psychotherapy Networker Symposium, I was part of a panel on Neuroscience. The title of my presentation was, “Therapy Isn’t Brain Science,” taking the position that neuroscience findings have no more relevance to therapy than the chemistry of wood has to a carpenter—no matter how true neuroscience is (and there is some doubt about some of it) it is a different level of knowledge that doesn’t tell us what to do with a client. I showed my 30-year-old video of resolving PTSD as an example (which at the time I called a phobia). I began with some explanation of how the basic “movie theater” visualization works, and followed the video with further explanation.

Many readers may find this presentation redundant, but the context of presenting at a national therapy conference lends some additional authority to what I have been saying for years—I didn’t just record something in my basement. The first comment on the video has already made it worthwhile to post it, because there are few experiences as satisfying as knowing that someone has made good personal use of something. I hope Santa puts something as delicious under your tree:

“Extraordinary! As I watched him work with this person, I went along with his instructions and entertained a traumatic experience I had in Vietnam.

Wow. I felt the resolution of the event—it just drained away leaving me with a sense of peace, a sense of being me without a certain background uncomfortableness that has been there for decades. A different me. A me clear. A me not affected any longer. A me with no emotional reaction to a memory of something that always used to produce nausea and upset if I thought about it.

This process is so simple and so profound all at the same time. I will be sharing this with all my therapist friends. The possibilities it offers for extraordinary relief are astoundingly powerful, assuming that the results are consistently duplicatable.

Thank you Steve Andreas.”