Here’s one of my best memories – feeding apples to Greater One-Horned Rhinos at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Any time I think of this moment, I simply can’t keep myself from smiling. It was such a sweet thing to see these huge beasts act so gently and socially with my daughter and me. She was as thrilled as I was to enjoy this intimate connection with such powerful (and powerfully misunderstood) creatures.
So, what on earth does this have to do with healing trauma? There is a wonderful technique, called “Flash”, developed by Phil Manfield. Flash is a modification of the second phase of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) that uses a person’s strong positive memories to help desensitize – to reduce the negative feelings associated with – a trauma. When I went through the training, we practiced on our own memories that were disturbing (I used my recall of this image), and it was incredible to me how effective the technique could be.
In my clinical practice with people who struggle with traumatic memories of all kinds, I have seen this drastically shift how they react to recalling highly traumatic events. What started off so disturbing – the person might only barely be able to stay in the room – turned into an event that no longer created any disturbing feelings at all. Often, clients will say something like, “Yeah, it really was a horrible thing that happened, but I can think about it now without feeling any distress.” There have been a number of people who, upon finishing 5-20 minutes of Flash-work, have stopped, looked at me and said, “How did you do that?!” I love that. There’s nothing more rewarding to me than helping people feel better, and it is often just that easy.
May you experience all the joy and healing you deserve – and maybe go feed a rhino; you’ll love it!