While some trauma treatments require that you retell what happened over and over again, Multichannel Eye Movement Integration (MEMI) is a treatment method that does not force you to bond with the past emotional pain. Dr. Mike Deninger explains.
Featured Contribution by Dr. Mike Deninger, USA
Trauma, whether caused by a single event or a long, drawn-out accumulation of negative experiences, can affect an individual’s quality of life. “Trauma causes distorted thinking, poor emotional management, and a dysregulation of your Autonomic Nervous System,” EMCC Executive Director Joachim Lee explains.
Some trauma treatments require that you retell what happened over and over again, believing repetition is the best way to overcome your fears. However, techniques like that require 12-15 sessions and can be very distressing. Many clients drop out long before completing treatment. Other approaches are more forward-facing (future-oriented) and do not focus on the past or force you to bond with that emotional pain. If you are currently struggling to overcome intense emotions (anger, anxiety, or low moods) and/or are experiencing intrusive thoughts caused by a traumatic event, you could consider Multichannel Eye Movement Integration (MEMI) as part of your trauma recovery.
MEMI was developed by Dr. Mike Deninger and is described in the book Multichannel Eye Movement Integration: The Brain Science Path to Easy and Effective PTSD Treatment. MEMI is an expansion of the original Eye Movement Integration (EMI) technique developed in 1989 by Connirae and Steve Andreas. MEMI is a safe, easy-to-use, multisensory approach that dulls all reactions to traumatic experiences — related imagery, sounds, and physical and emotional distress — not just intrusive thoughts. And MEMI accomplishes all of this without requiring you to tell your trauma story.
When we experience a trauma, it’s not the event itself that causes so much difficulty; it’s what happens in the brain as a result. Recent research has shown that several parts of the brain’s limbic system are affected when we are confronted by overwhelming experiences. For example, as fear memories are being formed in the amygdala, the organ emits electrical bursts that alter activity in the brain’s neural networks in ways that help us respond to a threat. The amygdala also signals the hypothalamus to trigger the fight or flight response, making us stronger, more alert, and more focused. The neurohormone cortisol floods the hippocampus, causing distortions in the images stored there. Connections between the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex — necessary for memory development and emotion regulation — are suppressed, causing cognitive distortions and emotional disturbances. The scientific evidence is now strong that these neurological changes are associated with the development of PTSD.
At the same time, other groundbreaking research has recently shown that lateral eye movements — like the kind used in MEMI — block the recall of fear memories in the amygdala, help reset the normal function of the hippocampus and reactivate the connection between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. In essence, the eye movements help to “rewire” the limbic system, bringing it back into balance. This is one reason why MEMI is so effective at resolving negative responses caused by experienced trauma. Another reason is because MEMI targets all aspects of traumatic memories—the physical, emotional, and sensory (sights and sounds) reactions typically experienced by trauma survivors. And that’s also why MEMI is called a multichannel eye movement approach.
Unlike other eye movement techniques, MEMI is based on an uncomplicated theoretical model. Every human experience is thought to be composed of four distinct elements — its context (the who, what, when, and where), thoughts (cognitions), sensations (images, sounds, smells, and tastes), and feelings (physical, emotional, and tactile). When recalling a trauma, clients never have to explain its context—the distressing storytelling required by other approaches. Instead, clients are simply asked about the images and feelings associated with the event.
Clients will typically express some physical discomfort (e.g., nausea in their abdomen). They might say the emotions that come to mind are terror or rage. They might describe the image of the event as in color, vibrating, or alive. These are the factors held in mind while eye movements are performed. MEMI is also safer than other trauma approaches. Two specific techniques are used to keep clients as calm and secure as possible. Best of all, most clients complete MEMI treatment in only one to three sessions!
EMCC’s Executive Director and Senior Principal Psychotherapist is Asia’s leading expert in the use of Multichannel Eye Movement Integration (MEMI) for trauma release therapy.
If you would like to consider using the MEMI approach, please visit our Enquiry/ Appointment page and indicate “Trauma Release” in the message box.
About Dr Mike Deninger, PhD
Mike Deninger hails from Western New York where he was raised in a large working-class family. He holds a BA in English, MS in Education of the Deaf, PhD in Special Education Administration, and MA in Mental Health Counseling. He is the creator of Multichannel Eye Movement Integration, specializing in Trauma recovery.