Four Blinks technique
We are sharing information like this because we think it's very important to have the information here, share it with your treatment team or trauma work buddies, and consider what tools are available out there that might be useful for your health and healing. Being kept in the dark about potential tools for trauma work is not helping our community, and not helping educate our therapists.
Please approach all trauma work with caution. Please do not retraumatize your system in the search for relief!!
We recommend reading about Memory Reconsolidation New before reading this article.
- Presence skills
- Visualization Skills
- Containment Skills
This technique does have accommodations & adaptations to make if these prerequisites are challenging for someone. You might have to go into the developer's (free) sign-up community to access the latest version & modifications, training videos, etc. That's here — but it's intended for therapists and we're not sure how welcoming it is for others.
Four Blinks is an EMDR therapist-developed trauma processing tool meant to process one trauma memory (recent memories of being activated are fine! No need to dig up the past!!) with the lowest activation level possible i.e. without being retraumatized.
Thomas Zimmerman has been developing Four Blinks to try to adapt it to allow for & accommodate parts work and for C-PTSD for a while.
The instructions for version 3.0 - December 1, 2022, are not copyrighted (deliberately) and can be used, shared, modified without permission or consent.
Like ANY trauma work, there's a risk of retraumatization. So please do approach this technique and any others with an abundance of caution. This is not a crisis rescue tool!! You need to not be (panic or anxiety) activated to use it. Having good grounding & presence skills & the ability to visualize well is helpful for this technique. There are modifications to the technique for folks who have aphantasia and other similar issues.
We suggest reading the full instructions first and that you try it out with someone else who has experience — such as your own therapist, or with a trauma-work mentor/buddy — and try it out on a recent memory that maybe activates your system only to a 5 before trying it on memories that activate to a 8-10 on a 0-10 scale, so that you can get the hang of it first.
This does include solo-instructions, but we recommend trying it with a therapist or buddy who has experienced it first a few times so that y'all know how it works, and how it feels when it's successful, before trying it alone.
How it Works
It works on principles of Memory Reconsolidation New. It can be helpful to understand MR before trying any other trauma work techniques so you know what the goal posts are for hitting on resolving trauma before starting.
This technique aims for the tiniest bit of autonomic nervous system activation before creating mismatches/prediction errors — and a great deal of repetition is already folded into the technique.
How Four Blinks provides Memory Reconsolidation New
See the Memory Reconsolidation New article for more information about these steps.
- It contains the trauma memory immediately - open-shut the container. Our nervous system makes a prediction, but Four Blinks tries to maintain an activation level of below where the body becomes activated — definitely below a 3 possibly below a 1. It doesn't recommend that you use a ratings scale so that it doesn't cause the client to become activated just thinking about being activated.
- By immediately going to the "Calm Scene" there's automatically a mismatch being produced — the nervous system is trying to say something bad is going to happen but the calm scene produces an immediate prediction error
- Each time the memory container is opened for a new slice, immediately followed by the calm scene, our nervous system opens up that specific prediction pathway for updating/editing
- Four Blinks is very repetitive and also goes over the whole scene/memory to make sure that nothing is activating after the first round — so it inherently includes repetition that will update the activation pathway.