Grey Matters Centre


The Flash Technique (FT) was originally developed as an addition to the preparation of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy but can be used as a stand alone technique. It is considered evidence-based and its purpose is to reduce emotional disturbance that accompanies traumatic or distressing memories. FT can be integrated into a variety of trauma therapies, not just EMDR, so that a client’s distress can be lowered allowing other work to go ahead. Unlike normal trauma therapies the client only has to minimally engage with the severely painful memory so that the disturbance can be processed without feeling the distress. 

FT works by briefly bringing a target memory into consciousness and then immediately pushing it out of direct awareness using a containering, distracting or distancing exercise. While a portion of the bad memory is in working memory but not in direct awareness,  a positive scene/process is focused on and periodically visually disrupt concentration on that positive scene using a series of guided and rapid blinks. The therapist verifies that the positive scene is in focus and is not intersecting with the negative memory in any way. Over the course of 10-30 minutes (typically), this cycle of blinking in the calm scene and periodically checking the memory for distress can help move the memory from hot and activated memory space into more normal and less activated memory storage. By the end of the process, the memory typically : feels like it happened when it did, does not cause somatic activation, elicits more positive cognitions about the self or the experience, and no longer appears as intrusive symptoms (flashbacks, trauma-related dreams etc). This technique can do all of this without the client having to activate the memory significantly, with minimal preparatory resourcing, with minimal client distress, and with minimal client expenditure of energy in session. 

What a reprocessed memory looks like

  • Zero distress, more adaptive thoughts about self and the world related to the memory, and clear body.
  • The memory feels like it happened when it did.
  • The memory gets inserted into a timeline and behaves accordingly.
  • The client (and every part of the client system) will report that the memory feels over.
  • Intrusive symptoms drawing from memory content will typically stop (including both flashbacks, content-specific rumination, and trauma related dreams.
  • The reporocessed memory tends to generalize and other memories that may be stored as a part of its closely-associated network will lose a lot of their distress.
  • The resolved memory becomes adaptive information about the self and the world.

 FT should only be used by a trained Flash Technique trauma practitioner.