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Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM)

RTM begins by questioning the client until he or she responds physiologically. Typically, this includes changes in breathing, heart rate and vocal pitch. The response is only allowed to continue until the physiology changes. It is stopped before re-traumatization can occur.

As soon as this state is identified, the dissociation begins by asking the client to imagine he or she is in a movie theater. On the screen is a still image of the client performing some neutral activity in a safe context, at a time before the trauma occurred. Then, he or she is asked to imagine floating away from his or her body in the theater to a projection booth. From this vantage point, he or she is instructed to watch him or herself in the theater, watching themselves on the screen.

After establishing these three levels of dissociation, the client is instructed to watch a black and white picture of themselves on the screen of the movie theater at a time before the traumatic event. As he focuses on the imagined picture, he is directed to watch himself in the theater as he watches a black and white movie of the traumatic event. He watches himself in the theater watching the event until a safe time after the trauma has fully passed. This process is repeated until watching the entire movie can be done without any observable discomfort. When he can watch the movie comfortably, he is asked to step into it and experience the entire sequence, fully associated, in color, in reverse and at very high speed.

When the trauma can be talked about with no discomfort, the intervention is presumed to have worked.

Results

RTM is notable because:

  • It causes little discomfort to the client.
  • It can be administered in any normal quiet room by Masters level counselors after a two-week certification training.
  • It does not involve drugs or costly equipment.
  • It is a relatively quick therapy.
  • Anecdotal evidence indicates long-term efficacy.

In clinical trials RTM removed the nightmare and flashback symptoms of PTS in less than half the time of current therapies, often in less than two or three sessions.

RTM administered shortly after veterans return home can remove the symptoms and stop the PTS Syndrome from developing.

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