We can treat an incident as a holographic movie. Each incident has all perceptions in it. 3D color, surround sound, feel-o-rama. To find out what is in it so that we can re-evaluate it, we need to watch the movie, listen to the soundtrack, feel the feelings.
We usually have to show the incident movie several times, often in different ways, from different perspectives and so forth, before it will be cleared.
When we have located an incident we want to re-experience, the first step is to get the client to start going through it. Preferably from the start, but usually we will go with whatever appears first for her.
We assume that the person CAN move back to the incident. We pretend that she travels back in time to the actual event. If that is actually what she does or not doesn't really matter. It is a suitable metaphor.
We want the client to experience the incident as if it is happening in the present. She doesn't have to be fully IN it in her own position at first, but she has to be at the same time.
She could also bring the incident up to the present, rather than going to it. The difference doesn't matter much, both are just models. The important part is that it gets experienced as if she is there.
Recalling an incident over a distance of time is a different technique. That is also a useful thing to do, and can maybe be considered safer, but it doesn't go as deep as actually experiencing the incident again. Experiencing an incident is not remembering, recalling, or recollecting -- it is actually being there, watching it, interacting with it.
Now, we don't want either to push the person to relive something she couldn't handle in the first place. The guiding rule is that she should be able to experience the incident comfortably. She might do that at first by just glancing through it and not feeling it very much, and gradually she might become more able to really feel what is going on. Or, if what she regards as her own position in the incident is just totally too much for her, then we can start from another position. She can watch it happen being a fly on the wall or something. Then, after a few times through it, she might be able to move a bit closer.
We want the client to go through the incident. She shouldn't just be sitting thinking about it, and talking about it. She should experience it, and that usually means following the flow of events through the incident.
There is no great honor in feeling as much pain as possible when one goes through an incident. The rule is to experience as much as you comfortably can. Having a hard time with it doesn't particularly clear it better. If you continuously experience it from a fairly comfortable position, then eventually the pain in it will seem like no big deal at all and you can experience it directly and get it over with.
Most new clients would stay as far away from the events in the incident as possible. However, under the facilitator's guidance they can realize that it is possible to experience some of it comfortably and after having done that successfully a few times, their confidence is up and they will approach the job more boldly.
Usually the only clients who will get too much into incidents are ones who have done specific other types of therapy that require that. Rebirthing or Reevaluation Counseling are examples. These therapies tend to get the person into totally reliving the incidents in order to fully get to the emotional content. They might also encourage the person to yell and scream and roll around on the floor and so forth if it seems to fit in. That is a way to do it, and that works as a technique. However, for our purposes, the general idea is to approach the traumatic content more gradually and comfortably. And once we get close enough, it has already been partially relieved and is no longer as traumatic as it seemed.
So, we get the client to the beginning of the incident. Then we ask her to go through it to its end. We could also say "experience through it", whatever communicates best.
The client can tell what is happening along the way, or she can wait until she went through it and then talk about it, whatever her preference is. Most clients prefer to talk as they go along. At any rate, we need to hear her account of what is going on.
If it appears that the incident is a core incident that can get resolved, then we will keep going through it until it is cleared. If it becomes obvious that it is not the core incident we would want to move earlier as quickly as possible.
A core incident is expected to contain:
- Pain and/or unconsciousness
- A proper context for the feeling
- A message or learning that has been missed
- A decision or conclusion regarding the event.
There needs to be something forceful going on in the incident for it to install a persistent unwanted feeling. In an imprint incident it is often associated with pain, but it doesn't have to be. But something is going on that is physically too much in too short a period of time. So, if the incident is "getting queasy while going to the bank" then it probably isn't a core incident. If it is "getting root canals done without anesthesia" then it might be. If it is "being eaten alive by cannibals" then it is a real good guess that it is core.
The core incident must also provide the proper context for the "unwanted" feeling. The idea is that the feeling hung around indefinitely because its proper context had been forgotten. Once we find the time and place and situation that it goes with, then it should resolve readily. So, in the core incident, the feeling must make sense. It must be a pretty natural feeling to have in that situation.
What we need to discern is between a first imprint and later reactions. The client will mix them up consistently at first, so it is up to the facilitator to know the difference very well. A "tight pressure around the waist" makes very good sense if you are being squeezed to death by a Boa Constrictor. But it really doesn't make much sense as a reaction to receiving your phone bill in the mail.
The client will usually defend her reactions passionately. "Of course I have a headache, Joe was saying mean things to me". The facilitator must realize that it is less than rational to respond with a physical discomfort to something that is just a symbolic representation. Unpleasant kinesthetic responses to words, expressions, environments, expectations, and so forth, are called Semantic Reactions. You react to a symbol, a meaning, responding as if it were a physical situation. If it involves physical uncomfortable feelings, it points in the direction of traumatic incidents.
So, if the client was walking down the street and suddenly, BAM!, she got a headache -- that is a reaction. Contrary to any attempts to rationalize it, it is a reaction based on hidden traumatic incidents in the mind. The incident where the pain suddenly appears is a Trigger Incident. The feeling gets triggered by a symbol or perception.
The trigger incident is not going to resolve the unwanted feeling. Well, it could relieve it temporarily, but we aren't satisfied with that. We want to have the core incident so that whole thing is not going to happen again at all.
The key information we will get out of the trigger incident is, what it was that triggered the reaction. That gives us useful information that points us to the possible contents of the earlier imprint incident.
We can ask the client to freeze the frame just in the instant where the triggered reaction occurs. So, if it was "suddenly getting a headache", we would want to know exactly what happened there. So, if the sequence was: "I looked at a red car, and I thought about getting an ice cream, then I suddenly got a headache", that gives us valuable information. It is very likely that we will find some of those elements in addition to the feeling in the earlier imprint incident.
So, if it is a trigger incident, go through it at the most a couple of times. Be sure to get what it was that triggered the reaction. Then ask for an earlier or more basic incident that includes the feeling. Ask the question while the client has attention on the moment of reaction in the trigger incident.
So, to repeat, when you get to the core incident, it must have a context that physically makes sense for the feeling at hand. The feeling shouldn't be something that just popped up in that incident, it should be something that really was appropriate or really was a very tangible content of the incident. It might potentially be somebody else's feeling, it doesn't really have to be the client's. But it would be something she either decided with good reason to have in the incident, or it would be something that was already there that she decided to pick up.
A core incident will have a hidden meaning waiting for the client to find it. There will be something to learn from it, there will be a message, there will be something to notice that she didn't notice. It will never be just a meaningless, random event. If examined closely enough, it will always turn out to have a worthwhile lesson for our client.
A core incident has some sort of decision or conclusion that the client makes at the time. The decision is a way for her of dealing with the traumatic situation at the time. It is the decision together with the stressful content together with the missed lesson that makes the whole thing stick.
The decision will generally be some deviation from what is actually going on in the incident. The person can't handle what is actually going on, so she tries to mentally solve the whole thing by deciding something about it. She might decide that she isn't really there, that she is really somebody else, that nothing is really happening, that it is really a good thing that is happening, or that she is now gonna do things differently. The decision somehow changes something so that the traumatic situation is more bearable.