Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rapid Resolution Therapy and The Brain

Researchers in the areas of neuroscience and trauma such as Bessel van der Kolk, MD, and Dan Siegel, MD, have made recent discoveries that back up the success of Rapid Resolution Therapy. In RRT, the practice of keeping clients “emotionally present” as they describe a traumatic event keeps their brains from activating the fight-or-flight response.

The specific part of the brain that normally triggers this response is the amygdala, which processes emotional reactions and stores some memories. A single, highly emotional event can be well-remembered because it triggers the amygdala. When the amygdala senses danger, the brain inhibits the hippocampus and parts of the pre-frontal cortex from tampering emotional responses and integrating memory into the conscious part of the brain. As a result, the memory stays in the deeper, unconscious part of the brain. However, triggers such as smells, sounds, or images related to the memory can cause an emotional response similar to that of the original trauma.

The process of RRT helps the client keep the hippocampus and pre-frontal cortex active. Rather than re-living the emotional trauma of an event as they describe it, the client revisits the event while emotionally responding to the present situation. An RRT therapist will guide the patient through the process. By disassociating the emotions from the memory, the process seems to help the brain realize that the trauma is over.

The client can move into the present and leave the trauma behind.

Article courtesy of Patricia Duggan who has a Masters in Psychology and has been practicing for 11 years. She maintains the site Psychology Degree. She writes about various subjects within the psychology field.

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