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Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM)
Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM) has been shown to eliminate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms in over 90% of returned US military veterans who had experienced combat, sexual, childhood, and other traumas. The first scientific study was published in 2015 and subsequently replicated four more times with similar results.
What is trauma?
Trauma is an emotional response to a distressing, disturbing, or life-threatening event that overwhelms a person's ability to cope and causes feelings of helplessness. Long term, trauma can diminish a person's sense of self and their ability to feel a full range of emotions and experiences.
Trauma can take many forms, ranging from a single event (such as an accident, physical or sexual assault, traumatic loss, or natural disaster) to recurring events (such as childhood, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse).
A person with PTSD will often experience flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, phobias, and chronic health conditions.
Applications of RTM
RTM is effectively used to treat anxiety, anger, emotional blocks, limiting beliefs, and phobias associated with trauma and PTSD.
What does RTM involve?
First and foremost, you will not be asked to re-count the traumatic event(s). Instead, you will be guided through a gentle, non-threatening visualisation process that will dissociate you from the traumatic memory. In other words, the process will separate you from the negative feelings of fear, terror, and helplessness; so that the memories will no longer create feelings of danger or trigger you into the fight/flight response.
Following RTM treatment, people find they are no longer preoccupied by the traumatic event(s) they experienced, and in turn, flashbacks and nightmares are no longer an issue; anxiety and phobias become less intense, more manageable, or disappear completely; and chronic health conditions may resolve themselves.
How does RTM work?
RTM changes the visual representation of traumatic memories so that they are no longer threatening. The changes include no longer re-living the experience(s) but rather, "seeing" the memories from a distance (like watching fictional characters in a movie), involving a loss of colour and depth cues.
Gray, R., & Bourke, F. (2015). Remediation of intrusive symptoms of PTSD in fewer than five sessions: A 30- person pre-pilot study of the RTM Protocol™. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, 1(2), 85-92.doi:10.3138/jmvfh.3119.
This pilot study treated 30 veterans suffering with severe PTS and measured their PTS remission rate post treatment at 96% (25 of 26), along with and alleviating their PTS intrusive symptoms in under five sessions. It provided validation for funding additional, more sophisticated research.
Tylee, D. S., Gray, R., Glatt, S. J., & Bourke, F. (2017). Evaluation of the reconsolidation of traumatic memories protocol for the treatment of PTSD: a randomized, wait-list controlled trial. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health,3(1), 21-33. doi: 10.3138/jmvfh.4120.
This Wait List Designed, Random Control Trial (RCT) study, measured 90% of the 30 male veterans, PTS diagnosis free, at their two-week, six-week, and twelve- month follow-ups. Given the 90% PTS remission rate and the high suicide rate among the veteran population, the Wait List Design was ethically necessitated because our participants were high suicide risk, and often homeless. Double-blinded studies were not attempted due to the vulnerability of this client group. The research team psychometricians were blinded as to control and experimental groups providing more than reasonable confidence for additional studies.
Gray, R., Budden-Potts, D., & Bourke, F. (2017). Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories for PTSD: A randomized controlled trial of 74 male veterans. Psychotherapy Research. doi: 10.1080/10503307.2017.1408973.
Over 90% of the male veterans completing treatment scored below the diagnostic threshold on the PCL-M and PSS-I. About half of those treated were followed to twelve months and retained freedom from PTSD intrusive symptoms and diagnosis.
Gray, R. M., Budden-Potts, D., Schwall, R. J., & Bourke, F. F. (2020, November 19). An Open- Label, Randomized Controlled Trial of the Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories Protocol (RTM™) in Military Women. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance onlinepublication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0000986.
96% PTS remission of the 30 women veterans on the PCL-M and PSS-I at two weeks and all subsequent measures to one year, follow-ups. A 96% PTS remission rate was obtained for the 30 women veterans on the PCL-M and PSS-I at two weeks and all subsequent measures to one year, follow-ups.
Gray, R. M.; Davison, A., and Bourke, F. (2021, August 25). Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories, The RTM Protocol™: Albuquerque trainee results. PsyArxiv. DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/PFQG4 Retrieved from osf.io/pfqg4.
Between 2018 and 2020, 18 licensed mental health professionals were certified in the Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM™) protocol. Participants collected and reported back anonymized data on clients they treated using RTM™, including pre-post PSSI-5 (n =74) or PCL-5 (n =11) statistics for each client. Of 90 RTM-eligible clients, 85 completed RTM™ treatment. Pre- post- PSS-I-5 or PCL-5 results found that 80 (95%) scored below minimal diagnostic criteria for PTSD.
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