How Do We Change Memories for the Better?

Trauma-Counseling-6We know that we can heal PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) by using EMDR and Somatic Experiencing to alter traumatic memories, but what is happening in the brain? How are we able to change a person’s relationship–their visual memory, sense memory, emotional response and belief system–to an event that is in the past?

Scientists have now verified through clinical reearch what we trauma therapists have been doing for a long time. They established that old memories can be changed or reconsolidated, but only in a window of susceptibiity typically between 10 minutes to 6 hours after a person is re-exposed to the memory and it is one again stored in the brain.

Scientists are finding our memories get consolidated over and over again each time we retrieve a certain bit of information. Let’s say a person is frightened by a snake. By revisiting the snake memory, a portal of sorts opens and that memory is open to manipulation.

We can seize the moment by changing the fearful information before the memory gets sealed up again. Research has further shown that the reconsolidation holds up over time, and that we can select certain targets without disrupting other memories.

–Live Science, 2-2009