ChangeWorksChangeWorks
Contact UsAbout Usphilosophy
PublicationsPersonal Development and Energy TherapiesWorkshops

How CLEAR® Works
 
Human Response to Trauma

In order to understand how CLEAR works, it is helpful to first examine how trauma impacts humans. Trauma results from any experience that we want to push away from ourselves or from which we want to retreat. Trauma may result from a physical experience such as a car accident, or from an emotional incident such as being humiliated or the untimely loss of a loved one. Trauma may occur to children who are required to grow up before their time. It may occur because of repetitive negative events such as being yelled at by an unhappy, emotionally unstable or angry parent. Or it may be the result of something hurtful someone once said such as declaring that you are ugly, stupid or ridiculous.

Humans respond to negative situations with a hard-wired "fight-or-flight" response, and if we can’t fight or flee, we go into the “immobility response.” All of these responses are survival mechanisms that protect us—it is obvious how fight or flight keeps us safe—we are primed to run from or fight the danger. The immobility response protects us because it dulls our senses so that we don’t feel much during the ordeal. So if we see someone killed or we are tortured, our senses are numbed and we don’t feel the pain so intensely.

To provide an example of fight, flight and immobility, it is helpful to picture an animal, like an elk, being hunted by a cougar. The cat moves in for the kill and fells the elk, which can no longer run and it can’t fight—it goes into immobility so pain is dulled. Now imagine a person comes along and scares away the cougar. The elk is not fatally wounded. It lies on the ground and its body twitches and its eyes roll for a while. Eventually, it stands up and walks away. This natural “processing” of the trauma prevents it from getting stuck in the animal’s body. This is the normal way a body (be it human or mammal) deals with trauma. Imagine after a traumatic incident, laying there and allowing your body to twitch. The desire to get away from the danger stops us from being present in our bodies and allowing processing of the trauma to occur. We want to get as far away as possible as fast as possible, so it is highly unlikely we will lay there allowing our system to deal with the ordeal by staying prone and twitching.

Because we humans block the complete processing of the response, the “trauma” gets stuck in our body. We block the full processing of the response because we don’t want to feel vulnerable, we don’t like how we feel, and we don’t want to feel what we feel—in other words because we think. So we do something to remove ourselves from the situation as quickly as possible.

When trauma is stuck in a human, and later we witness a situation that reminds us of this past trauma, we react as though we are actually experiencing the trauma again—with the powerful response of flight-or-fight, or with the immobility response. Once we are "triggered" by a new event that resembles an old trauma, we have very little control over our behavior because we react from the old, reptilian, survival part of the brain. Fight, flight and immobility responses bypass the cognitive mind and we react to the potential danger before we even have time to think. We have little access to our neo cortex, so both emotional intelligence and logical thought are limited and we don’t even realize how strong our reactions are.

A good indication that the past is impacting current behavior is when relationships aren’t working; when we are depressed, anxious, or reactive to others. If you find yourself strongly hurt, angered, saddened by, and reacting to another’s behavior, chances are that incidents from the past are influencing the situation. This is not to say that others don’t do things that negatively impact us and create negative emotional response from us. They do. But we don’t have to personalize the behavior. And if we do, our past is impacting our feelings.

Our reactive behavior is usually a predictable response, such as withdrawing, being passive, attacking aggressively, spacing out, acting unconsciously, or disassociating. Our response, in the original traumatizing incident, helped to keep us safe. But it is a response that is not effective in the present because we are reacting from the old trauma and not to the current situation. Our relationships suffer because we are not responding in the moment to those with whom we are interacting.

How CLEAR Works

Let’s review how energy psychology works so you understand how CLEAR could help you. CLEAR involves having the client touch particular acupressure points on the face, body, and/or hands while thinking of the incident he or she experienced. Acupressure points, when stimulated by touching, rubbing or tapping, transmit signals directly to the specific areas of the brain that are associated with those emotions. Brain scans indicate that the stimulation of the acupressure point inhibits the “alarm response” (fight/flight or immobility) by sending appropriate signals directly to the amygdala (the control center for emotions in the brain).

Feinstein states that the energy therapies actually help change the chemistry in the amygdala. Ronald Ruden, M.D., Ph.D. states that tapping on the acupressure points increases serotonin in the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala thus extinguishing fear. Groesbeck states that EMDR & EFT stimulate arousal of Delta waves (activated in deep sleep & master meditators), which helps us discard emotions associated with negative memories and depotentiates neural pathways (they erase negative neural pathways). Studies involving brain scans indicate significant decrease in intensity and frequency of Generalized Anxiety Disorder after acupressure treatment.

My own observations of clients indicate that the change results in a “rewiring” that removes the automatic response to trauma so clients are fully present to the situation at hand and respond from full awareness. And this change is permanent as long as we are not re-traumatized. Clients who utilize CLEAR show a steady evolution of their goals as they eliminate issues from the past. With CLEAR, we have the power to remove the past from our systems so we can move forward productively and creatively in our lives, becoming less stressed and more peaceful and aligned.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Feinstein, David, Eden, Donna, and Craig, Gary, The Promise of Energy Psychology, New York, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2005 

Gary Groesbeck, and Donna Bach, www.awakened-mind.com   

Ruden, Ronald A., M.D., Ph.D., WHY TAPPING WORKS: Speculations from the Observable Brain, http://energypsych.org/article-ruden2.php






© Copyright 2003-2007 by Change Works
All Rights Reserved.