What is Progressive counting (PC)?


Shervan K Shahhian

What is Progressive counting (PC)?

Shervan K Shahhian

What is Progressive counting (PC)?

Progressive counting (PC) is a therapeutic technique used in trauma-focused therapy. It is specifically designed to help individuals process and resolve traumatic memories and related emotional distress. PC is often utilized within the context of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, a widely recognized and evidence-based approach for trauma treatment.

During PC, the individual focuses on a specific traumatic memory or distressing event while the therapist guides them through a series of mental exercises. The primary goal is to facilitate the natural processing of traumatic memories and alleviate associated negative emotions and sensations.

The procedure typically involves the following steps:

Identifying the target memory: The individual and therapist collaborate to select a specific memory related to the traumatic event that will be the focus of the PC session.

Rating distress levels: The individual rates the level of distress associated with the target memory on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 representing the highest level of distress.

Dual attention stimulation: The therapist uses various forms of bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, hand tapping, or auditory tones, to create a dual attention focus. This dual attention helps the individual maintain awareness of both the traumatic memory and the present moment.

Counting and breaks: The therapist instructs the individual to mentally count the number of traumatic elements within the target memory while simultaneously engaging in the bilateral stimulation. After a predetermined number of elements, the individual takes a brief break from the stimulation.

Reevaluation: After each set of counting and breaks, the individual is asked to reassess the level of distress associated with the memory. This allows them to monitor changes in their emotional and physiological responses.

Repetition and desensitization: The process of counting, breaks, and reevaluation is repeated multiple times until the distress associated with the target memory significantly decreases or is completely resolved. The individual may shift their focus to other aspects of the memory or related memories as needed.

PC aims to desensitize the individual to the distressing memory by allowing the natural processing mechanisms of the brain to take place. By integrating the traumatic memory into their overall life narrative, individuals can experience a reduction in symptoms and achieve a greater sense of resolution and well-being.

It’s important to note that PC is a specific technique used within the broader context of trauma therapy. It should be administered by trained mental health professionals who are well-versed in trauma treatment modalities such as EMDR.

Shervan K Shahhian

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