The wheel has already been invented.

In this blog, I explore the research that has already been done, looking at the effectiveness of approaches that use the same underlying method as that of the NLPs fast phobia cure (the history of this is the subject of my previous blog in this series). There is some fascinating work being done in America, which is ongoing. 

 I am clear that what I teach people is not therapy. I am not a therapist. When birth professionals finish the two-day training, they are practitioners of the Birthing Awareness Process. They understand the fundamental principles of the model, and they know how to guide another via meditation through the process.

When the client experiences transformation, they are at cause for the change. The power to transform is inside out. They birth their transformation.

The work we are going to examine comes from America. The doctor started the project after working with over 250 people who had direct knowledge of the September 9/11 tragedy. In the aftermath, Dr Franke Bourke was invited by several other professionals to help.

Dr Bourke uses a process based on the model of NLP, he is a therapist, and he trains therapists. It is vital to keep that understanding in mind as you read.

From an article reporting the history of his work:

“Dr Bourke realised that whatever he did, it must stop the terror-filled nightmares and flashbacks if it were going to be helpful. Most of the well-established therapeutic tools being used by his peers, such as “talking therapy” and drugs, were doing little to help. However, he quickly discovered that a modified version of the phobia treatment he had learned years early had a dramatic effect. 

Using it, he relieved the flashbacks and nightmares much quicker and more thoroughly than the 30 or so other therapists he was working with. While working with clients for weeks and months on end, Dr Bourke found he could completely relieve the PTSD symptoms in five sessions or less. (* ref. 1

Like many World Trade Centre professional volunteers, Dr Bourke stayed on for ten months and treated over 250 PTS, survivors. By the end of the year, Bourke was convinced that this technique could be an essential treatment tool. Imagine being able to work with soldiers, first-responders, rape victims – people whose lives were altered by traumatic events – and cure their symptoms in as little as five sessions! No drugs. 

No complicated long-term therapy. This is it, he thought. He decided to bring what he considered to be “the largest advance in the treatment of PTSD” into the hands of therapists through scientific research and widespread recognition.”

Dr Bourke’s decision that day in 2001 to share his discovery with his colleagues has taken over ten years to begin to be accepted within mainstream psychology. Often those who work in our professional helping institutions need time to realise the power that new ways of thinking can have to potentially transform the lives of ordinary people suffering from the devastating effects of traumatic experiences.

Dr Bourke developed the process based on the Fast Phobia Cure from the NLP model. This process takes a traumatic memory and seeks to re-adjust it using several simple mind experiments. When this process is taught to a client, they can be guided by a trained practitioner as they implement the process themselves. These mental experiments involve structural changes in how the client has remembered the stressful event until now. The experiments involve mental activities like visualising the memory as a black-and-white movie, seeing themselves in the film rather than experiencing it like they were there again and other structural changes.

This revised memory is thought to take the place of the original memory. The technical name for this change is structure reconsolidation. Recent neurological research into reconsolidation (* ref. 2) shows that this altered memory is solid and lasting. Dr Bourke’s team refined and named the 

technique, the Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories Protocol (RMT).

Here are some quotes are taken from people that have been through the RMT process: 

Client 3032 (9/21/15): “I used to sit in the dark all day and go over and over the trauma. After treatment with the RTM Protocol, my wife says I am a lot happier. Another friend I have known for six years and see every Sunday says I look and sound so much happier. I feel alive. No more daymares and nightmares, and the nightmares I have had for the past 40 years have stopped.”

Client 3024 (8/25/15): “After three treatments, I feel different. I have stopped carrying around the duffel bag of misery. I no longer have a recurring nightmare I have been having for the past 30 years. I feel more positive and feel like my future is in my hands in whichever direction I take. I’ve noticed if I put out good vibes and self-confidence, it is reciprocated. I’m not going to sit still and feel depressed anymore. I just got a new job, and I attribute this to the work I did with the RTM Protocol.”

Client 3011 (8/25/15): “I notice a difference in myself. I was sitting around depressed and apathetic, and angry about events in Iraq. Instead of having terrible flashbacks, I now think of the event as just a memory. I feel more enjoyment of life and am starting my own business. I have started a golf program, something I would have never done before the treatment.”

You can find the links to all the research articles that have been conducted so far by The Research and Recognition Project. They include some small Randomised Controlled Trial’s (RCT), a Prospective Study (PS) and some very encouraging work using EEG imagining at the end of this blog.

The are similarities between the Bourkes model and the one I teach. There would be, we are both influenced by NLP. Below is the RTM model outline, taken from their website.

The RTM Process

  1. The client is asked to recount the trauma briefly.
  2. Their narrative is terminated as soon as autonomic arousal is observed.
  3. The subject is reoriented to the present time and circumstances.
  4. SUDs ratings are elicited for the just-related history.
  5. The clinician assists the client in choosing times before and after the event (bookends) as delimiters for the event: one before they knew the event would occur and another when they knew that the specific occasion was over and that they had survived.
  6. The client is guided through the construction (or recall) of an imaginal movie theatre in which the pre-trauma bookend is displayed in black and white on the screen.
  7. The client is instructed to find a seat in the theatre, remain dissociated from the content and alter their perception of the index event’s black and white movie.|
  8. A black and white film of the event is played and may be repeated with structural alterations as needed. 
  9. When the client is comfortable with the black and white representation, they are invited to step into a two-second, fully-associated, reversed movie of the episode beginning with the post-trauma scene (bookend) and ending with the pre-trauma set (bookend).
  10. When the client signals that the Rewind was comfortable, they are asked to relate the narrative or are probed for responses to stimuli that had previously elicited the autonomic response.
  11. SUDs ratings are elicited for the just-completed trauma narrative
  12. When the client is free from emotions in the retelling or sufficiently comfortable (SUDs ≤ 3), they are invited to walk through several alternates, non-traumatising versions of the previously traumatising event of their design.
  13. After the new scenarios have been practised, the client is again asked to relate the trauma narrative, and his previous triggers are probed.
  14. SUDs ratings are elicited.
  15. When the trauma cannot be summoned, and the report can be told without significant autonomic arousal, the procedure is over. Taken from: Evaluation of the reconsolidation of traumatic memories protocol for the treatment of PTSD: A randomised, waitlist controlled trial

The Birthing Awareness 3 Step Process outlined beneath for you to compare.

Step 1 Session 1 – Pre Work

  • The client is given a choice not to speak about their experience. If the client chooses to tell the practitioner about their experience, the practitioner listens using open listening. Open listening is our opportunity to calibrate ( more about this is the next post. Suffice to say it has nothing to do with the practitioner making meaning of the client’s story).
  • Scale their memory using a scaling question
  • Ask how they would like to feel if they didn’t have their current feelings.
  • Use Outcome Focused Questions to evoke a preferred state. 
  • Guide client through a relaxation focused guided meditation.

Step 2 Session 2 – Guided meditation

  • Explain the BA process if you haven’t already.
  • Make sure your client is comfortable. 
  • Go through the entire meditation, ensuring that your client is relaxed throughout Scale afterwards using the scaling question.

Step 3 Session 3 – Recap and re-scale

  • Ask your client how they have been since you last met and did the guided meditation
  • Pay attention to the changes you can see and hear in their physiology
  • Re-scale the memory using the scaling question

When I approached the Research and Recognition Organisation recently to discuss the possibility of collaborative working, they were quick to point out that the RTM method was not NLP but based on NLP principles. 

I would say the same thing regarding my training.

It is plain to see, however, that the process is very similar and stay very close to the principles and practices developed by Dr Grinder and Dr Bandler. The application, context, and assumptions do differ (​* ref. 8 Grinder & * ref. 9 Bandler).

Important note: 

The research discussed in this blog is in the context of those given a formal diagnosis of PTSD. It is important to note that I do not train birth professionals to become trauma therapist. 

I acknowledge that treating those diagnosed with PTSD (* ref. 7) following a traumatic birth experience is the domain of professional therapists; Experts who have pursued a comprehensive course of study take years of learning and experience to complete.

I train experienced birth professionals to teach a client a learning process and then guide them through it. The process enhances the clients’ ability to learn a new way of structuring their memory via guided meditation.


The reference links listed below in the order that I suggest you read them. The Videos are, in my opinion, a must-watch if you want to delve deeper into how the BA 3 Step Process works:

  1. Breakthrough Found In Treatment
  2. PTSD: Extinction, Reconsolidation, and the Visual-Kinesthetic Dissociation Protocol
  3. Remediation of intrusive symptoms of PTSD in fewer than five sessions: a 30person pre-pilot study of the RTM Protocol
  4. Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories for PTSD: A Randomised Trial of 30 Females
  5. A Pilot Study of Quantitative EEG Markers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder — Baseline Observations and Impact of the Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM) Treatment Protocol
  6. Post-traumatic stress disorder: Clinical management guideline [CG26] Published date: March 2005
  7. The ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders
  8. A 4-minute video of Dr Richard Bandler demonstrating the NLP Fast Phobia cure (FPC) (Note: Richard is a bit like marmite, people tend to either love him or hate him. That said, this video is worth a watch. In it, the doctor evident works through each step of the FPC brilliantly. Warning, there is strong language in this video). 
  9. Another Longer video (15 minutes) of Dr John Grinder demonstrating the FPC