Traumas occur in every person’s life. So called small traumas are typically non-life threatening but often affect a person’s sense of self, their feeling of “good enough,” and their confidence. Larger traumas are those that are emotionally or physically life threatening and give rise to feelings of terror, anxiety, and/or helplessness. When these emotions arise, they cause chemical changes in the brain that frequently trigger the flight, fight, or freeze reaction, all of which have a physiological basis and can cause people great discomfort. The average person’s response to potentially traumatic situations fluctuate depending on the degree of resilience they have built during childhood and adulthood.
For those who experience regular or sometimes even daily fight-or-flight reactions which stem from childhood or previous experiences, have you ever wondered if there was a way to heal or lessen these difficult feelings and responses? A recent study is giving hope and relief as its findings indicate that the RIM method has proven to decrease or eliminate traumatic stress symptoms.
This study, conducted by MaryAnn P. McDonald M.S., explored whether four Regenerating Images in Memory (RIM) sessions lessened lingering effects of separate traumatic stresses experienced long ago by multiple women. The six criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR 2000) were used as a measure of the severity of traumatic stress symptoms participants experienced pre and post RIM.
Results of the pre and post surveys strongly suggest that the RIM approach may be highly effective in providing relief of the symptoms of traumatic stress in women whose trauma experiences are years or decades old. Of the PTSD traumatic stress symptoms, the greatest decrease showed up in the symptoms of 1) re-experiencing the trauma and 2) numbing and avoidance Some reduction in hyper-arousal also was demonstrated. The participants reported that the RIM sessions improved their self-awareness and feelings of empowerment while reducing the negative influence of traumatic experiences on their lives.
All four women identified multiple traumas and resonated with at least some of the symptoms common to traumatic stress. All four disclosed at least one sexual trauma (see full study for details). Grief over the loss of a parent, sibling, child or fetus weighed heavily on each of them. Two mentioned car accidents. Divorce court significantly affected two of them, one felt serious periodic religious persecution, and one felt the effects of temporary abandonment.
It is generally believed that the younger a person is in experiencing their first significant trauma, the more likely they are to experience post traumatic stress with later trauma, especially if the childhood included sexual abuse. All four women in this study experienced a childhood trauma–three had experienced sexual abuse by the time they were four. The fourth woman experienced traumatic grief when she was nine. Judging from their ages at their first traumatic experience, these women’s early experiences likely put them at higher risk for post traumatic stress responses incurred from later traumas.
The difference in pre and post scores found that all participants experienced a decrease or elimination in traumatic stress symptoms. All benefited and express their interest in experiencing more RIM. Overall, the reductions in traumatic stress symptoms to the RIM process seem particularly remarkable and very encouraging, especially as the results are based on no more than six hours over the course of four sessions spent with each participant.
How Does Trauma Healing Work?
According to researcher Dr. Candace Pert, our emotional experiences are stored in the body at feeling-specific neurotransmitter sites and can be re-keyed to create different emotions than those feelings to which we have previously been addicted. Since the brain registers an imagined experience similar to a real experience, we can re-generate emotional memory to create neuro-pathways for new endings to old stories. All the while, factual memory remains stable. Finally, during the RIM process, clients integrate a new felt body-experience that translates to automatic or reflexive behavioral, physical, and psychological changes.
What is the RIM Method?
RIM stands for Regenerating Images in Memory, and it was created by Dr. Deborah Sandella, a human communications expert and long-time psychotherapist. The RIM method has been proven to decrease the symptoms of stress-related illness, decrease symptoms of trauma and significantly increases one’s quality of life.
The RIM Method used in this study is as follows:
“After reviewing PTSD symptomology with the participants to establish their pre-session traumatic stress symptoms, we talked about their current life stresses. At the beginning of each RIM session I asked if there was an issue they specifically wanted to address. I explained the RIM process, and we began each session with a “dip” (process starting with observing their breathing and going “inside” to their inner landscape). In each case, I asked them what in their body was calling attention to itself. All participants easily were able to notice something in their bodies. This body-sensing approach was usually followed by my suggestion that their imagination would spontaneously provide an image related to their initial issue or related to something that followed organically from their body sensing experience, depending on their body sensing responses. I then asked them to let their imagination call in a virtual mentor to be there for wisdom and protection. In other respects, each session continued along a unique path. Most sessions ended with a “magical” movie of the weeks or months into the future with new awareness of how the client was different in relationship to a desired goal or emotional state. And we revisited the original body sensation or a more recent one to determine whether anything had changed. Where appropriate, we “cleared’ the remaining image and sometimes imagined replacing it with something more resourceful.”
Numerous Positive Results Of RIM:
Numerous patients have reported on the positive benefits of their RIM treatment. Clients stuck in grieving from earlier events like a loved one’s loss find peace in one session. Clients with physical conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s have gone into remission. One client with a “complete” spinal cord injury is walking in braces. Psychologically, clients have freed themselves from traumatic memories, and others have learned how to use RIM to make wise decisions in a split second. We have learned from client feedback that, “When [clients] leave a psychotherapy session [they] feel good. After a RIM session, [they] feel different.” RIM clients look and act different too! One spouse remarked about her husband, after his session given as a birthday gift, “He looks ten years younger.” Studies have also shown RIM to significantly decrease the symptoms of stress-related illness and significantly increase one’s quality of life.
Overall, it is wonderful that a method like RIM has been discovered to help decrease and eliminate traumatic stress symptoms.
If you would like to experience a RIM session yourself, visit the Directory of Professional RIM Facilitators and get in touch with the perfect person to assist in your healing.
You can also read the full study mentioned in this article here: McDonald Masters Project
For more than 40 years, Award Winning and Best-Selling Author & Psychotherapist Dr. Deb Sandella, has helped thousands heal trauma, move through grief and gain access to more laughter, greater financial success, and deeper, more loving relationships. This former university professor developed the RIM® (Regenerating Images in Memory) Method that alleviates suffering and supports you to claim the happier, healthier life you deserve. RIM® is used by therapists, coaches, organizational consultants and school social workers globally and has helped countless individuals transform past trauma for a more fulfilled life. She frequently brings her teachings to Jack Canfield events (Chicken Soup for the Soul), and even developed a home-study program for healing.