What is Progressive Counting?
Progressive Counting (PC) is a research-supported method for processing harmful experiences and losses. It is similar to EMDR in the underlying mechanisms believed to be responsible for healing traumatic memories. While a part of your brain is in the present moment, part of your brain is also back in the memory, and you process what happened with support from me in such a way that the memory begins to feel distant and like “it’s really over”.
Like EMDR, PC is not something we necessarily do at the start of treatment. It’s important you are ready to tackle disturbing emotions, thoughts, and memories. Before we start any form of trauma processing we will work together to make sure you have the skills you need to get through it safely. For some people, it may take a few sessions before they are ready and for some people, it may take a few months or even years. We will get there together.
What happens in a session?
During a PC session, you will be asked to remember the traumatic memory we have decided to work with, and you will be watching it like a movie in your mind. While you are “watching” the movie I will be counting out loud up to 10, 20, 30, etc. Each round the counting (and movie) will get a little longer until the intense emotions and charge that disturbing memories can bring up start to diminish. We keep going until the memory feels fully in the past, distant, or faded and doesn’t hold an emotional charge like traumas do.
What kinds of memories can I process using PC?
The short answer to this is any difficult, disturbing memory from your past. Below are some examples of things other clients have worked with me on using PC:
- Death of a loved one
- Sexual assault or rape
- Racist, ableist, sexist, and other oppressive experiences
- Medical procedures
- Neglect & abuse
- Witnessing something scary or overwhelming
- Accidents & injuries
If you think you may benefit from Progressive Counting you can contact me for a free phone consultation and to set up an appointment. I always recommend we get to know one another in several assessment sessions before we decide when and if PC might be appropriate for you.
I use PC together with other trauma treatments like sensorimotor psychotherapy or as an adjunctive therapy for clients who are happy with their current therapist and are looking for specific trauma work.