Should Flash be integrated into the Standard Protocol?
I really enjoyed Dr Justin Haven’s article on the Flash technique in the recent ETQ. I have been using the Flash technique for the last two years with some of my NHS complex PTSD clients with good results.
In my view, Flash offers several advantages over traditional stabilisation techniques. It introduces to the client the possibility of change at an early stage, which helps to build familiarity and trust in the process of standard EMDR further down the line. It gives the client confidence that the intensity of affect related to disturbing memories need not be feared and that this intensity can reduce without the client having to consciously engage or even remotely associate with the memory. Pairing trauma memories with an engaging resource introduces clients to the concept of dual attention, required for reprocessing with EMDR.
The Flash technique enables complex PTSD clients to engage with the Standard (EMDR) Protocol sooner than they would have with traditional stabilisation techniques, which focus exclusively on resourcing. As taught in the Flash workshop, a moving, engaging resource is much better than a static safe place. It is not just about how granny looks but it is about engaging with the deepest moments of feeling loved by her that creates a more fulfilling experience for the client. Conversations and appropriate contextual humour between client and therapist seems to enhance engagement in the Flash technique. Severe PTSD clients inherently have long-standing poor concentration due to traumatic memories frequently intruding in their present orientation; the interactive resourcing afforded by Flash seems better suited to this group of clients.
However, we need to research its use more comprehensively. It would be instructive to compare the qualitative experiences of complex clients offered Flash to those offered a similar number of sessions of traditional stabilisation techniques. This may help inform us as to whether use of the Flash technique should be routinely integrated into the Standard Protocol.