Gary 'Smiler' Turner's Blog

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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Developments in Eye Movement Interventions for Therapists

This blog post will be of interest to the hypnotists, therapists, psychologists, and NLPers amongst us. I love to develop and test, explore and learn, especially in respect to interventions that I utilise. This blog post will share some of my discoveries and learning in respect to using eye movement interventions. This post is not to be read for writing skills – instead for the ideas contained within!

Lazy 8’s to recover memories
Most of you will have heard of the “Lazy 8’s”? This is an eye movement pattern, the source of which I believe comes from Steve Andreas and developed in Eye Movement Integration (EMI), EMIplus, and Integrated Eye Movement Therapy. If you are a therapist and would like to know an amazing set of tools and methodologies then I really urge you in getting appropriate training in one (or all!) of these.

I utilise eye movement works as my ‘intervention of choice’ commonly when working with trauma and PTSD. The British Army psychologists and psychiatrists use the more archaic Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) with PTSD, which has been the subject of numerous clinical trials that clearly identifying its efficiency.

(Note: The Army also utilises Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with PTSD. Source: Officer in charge of the Army Medical Corps.)

I first saw the lazy 8’s in use by Andrew Austin on one of his IEMT Practitioner trainings. He utilises the technique as part of a highly efficient identity updating process.

I then saw Nigel Hetherington on one of his YouTube videos. He was utilising lazy 8’s to gain a resource state with his subject. He moves his finger in the wide figure of 8, and his client follows the movement with his eyes, with his eyes moving right to their peripheries. Whilst the fingers moved, the subject was invited to think of times when he was happy, laughing, in a state of joy, and as the process continued more and more memories pop into the subject’s mind and his body reacts in kind. In a very short space of time the subject is bubbling with happiness!

I practiced and now utilise the same quite often with my fight clients to get them ‘up’ for training. Any resource state can be produced using this method.

I also spent time wondering how it works. What follows is the best I have come up with – so far. Hopefully the readers of this blog will be able to contribute more to this.

As a student of cognitive linguistics I full understand that the words we use have a deeper structure beneath. As we speak, hear, or read the words meaning is attached to the sound or the squiggle on the page. We have learned this meaning through our life’s experience.

In the process above the words “happy”, “laughing” and “joy” were all used to refer to experiences of the subject. So each time the words were spoken to him, his mind would search for the reference experiences that match. As the thoughts popped into his head and the emotions attached flashed into his limbic system, his body starts to respond to the feelings. The more memories that flash up the stronger the feeling grows.

Then there is the eye movement itself. There is the classic rule of neurology – what fires together wires together. When we have an experience the eyes are moving around during that experience – and therefore get ‘coded in’ with the memory. So as we’re moving the eyes, whilst holding the thoughts of finding ‘happy’, ‘laughing’ and ‘joy’ the eye movements help us to connect to appropriate memories. The stronger the emotions the more relevance the eye movements have in finding the reference experiences, they start coming thick and fast, and the feeling begins to really intensify.

In short the eye movements help us to trigger memories relating to the context we hold in mind.

 I was recently working with a 16 year old helping her with her studies, installing new strategies to help her learn and retain information more quickly, speed reading, amongst much more. I was using the principles of cognitive interviewing to help her remember first the structure, and then the detail of a previous lesson.

(Of course, any memory is only a construct and recalls also relies on that memory being there in the first place! You can’t call something up that hasn’t been laid down.)

Teaching her the strategy of cognitive interviewing to access the memory together with association to provide recall was quite quick. Yet suddenly an idea popped into my head – what would happen if we used the Lazy 8’s?

We quickly got the order of the lesson, and wrote the order in single words chronologically. I then started the lazy 8’s, started to slowly say the words in order, and the memories started coming thick and fast! After about 45 seconds the lesson memory was in detail, and my client reported that the images and memories were sharp. Yes, there were still gaps, yet this is most likely to be an attention element – the memory has to be laid down in the first place in order for it to be recalled. The details were there, she had a big smile on her face as she could remember all the detail.

I’m now starting to wonder where we can use lazy 8’s in the future. The eye movement pattern helps us to access memories. Andy Austin demonstrates it nicely with his identity upgrading element to IEMT. Nigel Hetherington in building his resource states as part of EMIplus. I’ve suggested a further use here for recalling details. I wonder, what other applications can you think of, already know, or find? Would be great if you could give feedback!

Adding Focus to Eye Movements
Further to the above, EMI plus and IEMT work in a ‘flat’ plain. I’ve been adding depth, working to 9 points of a cube, which adds eye focus to the eye movements. I’m starting to notice patterns of calibration from doing this – including adding distance to the submodalities of the client’s experience.

I’ve spoken of this with Nigel Hetherington too, and he is also starting to experiment with this of his own accord. I feel it is worth putting out there to those who utilise eye movement work with their clients to see what you notice, what calibrations, what effects. Please report back, and share your discoveries!

Mixing Eye Movements With Somatic Therapies
Further still, I have been mixing somatic approaches at the same time as the eye movement work. Using my adapted version of Ruden’s Havening process I have been obliterating severe emotion from traumatic events far quicker. Again, I’m putting this out to get therapists thinking, and also to get feedback – let me know again what you notice, what calibrations, what effects. Please give feedback!


  1. Gary- I just had a client show me another wonderful application- dealing with very early sense of lack of support and love, she age progressed herself while telling herself all the things she needed to hear but didn't. I continued to do the movements telling her simply to let me know when she reached her present age- at which time she said I want a lot of stuff and I'm deserving of it, and with a huge smile on her face, finished "including love."

    Re: the depth axis David Grand, the founder of Brainspotting, has done a lot of good work on this, and has found it very helpful when there isn't much change on the other two. I'm sure there are lots of great new applications out there and I too would love to hear about them.

  2. Hi Gary

    Great post, and props for putting your findings out into the community.

    That's interesting what you say about the lazy 8's and resource state elicitation. I have only used the lazy 8's with identity, but your suggestion of state elicitation is a great one, and one I am going to try.

    With regard to the addition of a somatic component, I have recently introduced this myself (contralateral arm stroking) both for myself and on clients, and as with you have found, I have also found a much quicker eradication of emotion.

    I am also considering whether to test the use of FasterEFT along with IEMT and the Somatic stimulation to see if any further benefits might be gained.

    I watched recently two people demonstrating Crossfire FasterEFT, and clients report an even faster resolution to emotional traumas.

    Great stuff, and keep it up.

    Steve Green