Photograph by you-did
Somewhere on some bookshelf of my past, there is a NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) handbook. It is a hardback, well-kept, and treasured. I can see it sitting on the bookshelf and could walk right over to it, coffee in one hand, and pull it out of its resting spot with the other hand. I would like to do that now so I can have a lucid discussion of another handy tool called Eye Movement Integration(tm), but alas, the book is not on my current shelf. I move my eyes up and over as I recall that the bookshelf was in a totally different location from where I currently live or work and that book, where is that book? It is not in the box sitting next to the bookshelf, the one with all the books that will not fit. And for this moment I am desolate.
Anyway, no point in dwelling. Someday the book will show up again, but that does not help me with today’s posting. Yes, Eye Movement Integration(tm) is indeed the theme, so I will have to go it alone without the book. Are you finding yourself looking back to the 10 Questions with Rebecca Batts and wondering where the reference to EMI was mentioned? No, it was not from Rebecca (whose favorite technique is progressive relaxation and visualization - we can talk about that another time if you would like). I was reminded about EMI in an article I mentioned yesterday on overcoming fear.
EMI as defined by the Free Dictionary (medical) is:
therapy in which the practitioner directs a client to recall a traumatic event, while leading the individual to move the eyes in a particular set of patterns to bring about healing and release from the trauma.
EMI originated in the work of Connirae and Steve Andreas in 1989 and has its foundation more in NLP than hypnosis. It continued in its legacy with the help of Danie Beaulieu, who wrote a book called Eye Movement Integration Therapy: The Comprehensive Clinical Guide. When thinking about eye movement in relation to NLP work, many of us tend to think of it more as a way to monitor another’s thought process, using it an an evaluation tool, rather than as one that is more therapeutic. EMI is the later and is based on the idea that eye movement accesses all the various sensory systems (could we call this reflexology of the eyes?). Guiding the eye movements of the client, the practitioner is able to help the client connect all the senses. With traumatic events, EMI practitioners believe that such occurrences are isolated in a person’s life, which causes all the problems both in actual neurology and thoughts. By incorporating eye moments, all the sensory systems are accessed. Though the event remains in the mind of the client, the goal is to lessen the emotional impact of it.
So how does EMI work?
The client thinks about the fear and responds to it by creating a statement that is the direct opposite of the fear, a statement that encompasses feelings of safety and security. Then the client thinks about the the source of the trauma (the event itself) or the root of their anxiety. As the client thinks about this, the practitioner slowly moves their fingers in front of the client’s eyes and has the client follow the slow movement (2).
The process has been well-described on Interlink, the National Board of Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists:
Finally, change occurs during the EMI procedure because there is a five-way division of attention as the client is being asked to concentrate on the numerous facets of the intervention collectively. First, the client is being encouraged to wrap him/herself in a sense of competence/security which is remembered, accessed and anchored from a past personal experience. Second, he/she is being asked to watch an imagined “younger” self going through a representation of the problematic experience on an imagined movie screen. Third, to bear in mind a desired positive belief and any positive learning the client discovers and wants to preserve into the future. Fourth, the client is being instructed to follow the therapist’s finger, or target, as it is being moved across the plane of the client’s face. Fifth, the client is being asked to scale his/her level of discomfort as a Subjective Unit of Distress (SUD) repeatedly.