The “Flash” Technique (FT) is an approach that originated from the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) intervention. Similarly to EMDR, FT is an intervention designed to help an individual reprocess past trauma (i.e. distressing memories and life events). Unlike EMDR, FT does not require the client to commit to a lengthy treatment process, and it also does not require the client to engage in consciously recalling their traumatic memories in order to process them.
How Does FT work?
The therapist will have the client identify a traumatic or distressing memory.
After the “target” memory has been identified, the therapist will ask the client to focus on an engaging positive memory, thought, image, or piece of music.
While focusing on the positive image, the client will also engage in short sets of eye movements. The therapist will ask the client to focus on the positive memory or thought, and then flash (one quick blink of the client’s eyes) to the “target” traumatic memory.
Once the client successfully experiences no distressing feelings after approximately five sets of bilateral eye movement, the therapist will then ask the client to increase the flash/blink to three quick blinks. In each set, the client starts and returns to thinking of the positive thought. In doing so, the client is able to process the target memory without consciously and directly attending to the original distressing memory.
At the end of the session, the therapist asks the client what they think of the traumatic memory and how they would rate their level of distress using a measurement scale.
With the use of FT, clients tend to say the memory is there, but the distressing feelings attached to the memory have significantly decreased or are even gone. FT can be used in conjunction with EMDR, or it can be used as a sole intervention. Additionally, FT is a suitable treatment approach for all ages and various presenting concerns which could include: trauma, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, mild to severe dissociation and more.