Sears uses a series of proven counseling techniques to reduce anxiety, fear, guilt, depression, anger, sorrow, pain, regret, failure, lack of self worth, lack of focus or motivation, a sense of injustice, compulsive desires, and addictive behaviors; drugs, alcohol, pornography, video games, shopping, gambling, sexual acting out, etc. Sears views dysfunctional and addictive behaviors as symptoms of unresolved trauma that the client uses to self medicate him or herself against the pain lurking beneath the surface in his or her heart. Overcoming emotional problems, relationship problems, and/or addictions is a difficult and often a life-long endeavor, but your chances of succeeding are much greater if you have patched up the bleeding hole in your heart.
Sears uses a sequence of proven therapeutic techniques to identify what is really bothering you through asking questions and allowing you to admit what is bothering you. He then will ask you to identify the earliest memory of a bad traumatic event, i.e. being stung by wasps. Next he will ask you to recall your moist recent traumatic event, i.e. being fired unjustly from a job. Then he will ask you to recall your worst-ever trauma. You will then select the traumatic event that you want to work on first.
Before Sears asks you to recall and focus on a past painful event, he will teach you a relaxation word that you can use to relieve stress and pain as it comes up. His commitment is to have you leave the counseling session feeling better than when you arrived. He is always teaching you methods to use on your own so that you are not forever dependent upon therapy in order to solve your problems.
Sears will use EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) to address this event. This technique was developed about 20 years ago by Dr. Francine Shapiro. It is a movement technique where the client follows Sears’ fingers as he moves them back and forth in front of the client’s eyes. The client is thinking about the traumatic event in as much detail as possible recalling sounds, sights, smells, feelings of stress in his or her stomach or shoulders, etc. This back and forth eye movement replicates REM sleep that the client probably failed to achieve the night after the traumatic event. Sears and others believe that REM sleep is our body’s way of processing the emotional impact of bad events away from the stored memory of that event. You are awake and recall everything that goes on during this procedure. Sometimes a client may dissociate or break with the “here and now” and go back to the traumatic event. Sears is trained to calm you and guide you back to the present.
After several EMDR passes, Sears will use a Gestalt empty chair technique originally developed by Dr. Fritz Pearls. This involves asking you to imagine that the individual who played a major role in causing your pain or distress is sitting across from you in an empty chair. Then Sears asks you to tell that person whatever you want to tell him, to say things that need to be said that may not have been said before. This method can dredge up long festering sorrow, shame, guilt, anger, etc. As it comes to the surface you are draining the emotional burden from your heart.
The next step involves using OEI (Observational Experiential Integration) developed by Dr. Richard Bradshaw and Audrey Cooke. This method is a refinement of EMDR where the client only keeps on eye open at a time as the therapist works on “pulling out” the stress points.
How does OEI work?
This is a very basic theory of how it works, and by having some understanding of the methodology you will have more confidence in trying OEI out. Once you try it, the results speak for themselves.
Imagine experiencing a traumatic event. Your eyes focus on specific things during the event. At least three things are stored in the brain associated with the traumatic event. First the bad memory is stored in the front neocortex as a bad memory. Also the emotions attached to that memory are stored along with the events of the memory somewhere in the limbic system. Lastly, any muscle positions associated with that painful traumatic memory are stored and associated with the event. The human eye has six major muscles that move it around inside the head. When the person’s focus locks in on a certain position during the traumatic event, that muscle position is stored. When the therapist has the client follow his or her fingers while the client is recalling the event, the therapist can see “glitches” or ‘skips” like a needle on an old fashion record player skipping when it hits debris on the record. At this point the therapist moves his fingers in to the glitch spot and “grabs” that hot point and pulls it out. Although there is no physical contact between the therapist and the client’s eye, the client often reports feeling a string being pulled out of his or her eye. The therapist alternates between the client’s left and right eyes until all the glitches are processed.
During the entire therapy process the therapist will ask the client to rate his stress or trauma on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is being perfectly relaxed and at peace and 10 is chaos and unbearable pain.
The incredible power of OEI. This method is so effective that a client does not have to disclose the details of his or her painful memory. All the client has to do is relive it in his or her mind and tell the therapist how he or she is still experiencing the feeling of the traumatic event on the 1 to 10 scale. This is of great value with sexual abuse events and other events that the client is too shamed to openly discuss. Once the client begins to feel relief as a result of the OEI, they almost always tell the therapist all the details of the traumatic event.