Human body can store memories unconsciously that have physiological effects. Happy memories are forgotten with time. The same cannot happen unconsciouly with unhappy experiences without negatively affecting our thinking, perception and behaviour. The human body has to use a lot of energy to suppress such memories. We do not realise the impact such memories have till we have dealt with them. At the time a distressing event is being experienced, our body secretes hormones and neurotransmitters to undo the effect of the event. This has been called 'fight or flight'response.The memory of the event is stored as images for the future. When the event is remembered in the future, the body secretes the same hormones and neurotransmitters, probably in the same quantity, as happened when the event was experienced in reality. Same emotions of fear or anger or sadness are experienced.It means that the body gets 'conditioned'to respond to the images of the event, believing them to be real. The unconscious,emotional mind is seated in the part of the brain called the limbic system. The limbic system is connected to the cortex-part of the brain associated with reason and logic-and the autonomic nervous system. The latter controls all involuntary physiological activities in our body. This includes breathing, blood pressure, heart rate,digestive system and immune system,for example.
As a psychiatrist, Dr. Chadha learnt that each suffering person enters the psychiatric service with a 'subjective' 'emotional' perception of a distressing life event. A psychiatrist , who interviews a person in distress has only an 'objective' view of the sufferer's condition. This view may either ignore or overlook the subjective emotional experience of the sufferer. The psychiatric client may then end up feeling 'not understood'. The psychiatrist looks for an objective psychiatric diagnosis, interpreting the distress as symptoms. But the client wants to deal with their respective subjective emotions at the particular moment in time. Subective Emotive therapy was so named to give respect to client's emotional needs that may be different for different persons undergoing similar experiences. It is brief- because it is intense and so can be extremely effective.
Chadha Model Subjective Emotive Brief Therapy uses images from the past (and the present) to arouse emotions so that the autonomic nervous system can be 'deconditioned' or 'desensitised'off the fear or anger or sadness. As the autonomic nervous system is challenged successfully,the mind becomes calmer. This positively affects thinking , perception and behaviour of the individual. The body responds positively as physiological processes become slower, calmer and more efficient. Natural healing kicks in.There is then less need for medication. All relaxation and holistic therapies work in the same manner. The quality of life improves as a result.
Over the years , Dr. Chadha's work has shown that there are only three issues that burden our nervous system to affect our thinking , perception and behaviour. These issues are:Unresolved griefUnresolved anger(or fear)Unresolved trauma
Issues that are buried in the past continue to affect us unconsciously.We become aware of their impact only when they are cleared up physiologically. In our day-to-day business, we are unaware of their effects. Our creativity, decision-making ability and sense of self-worth are dependent on the net effect of positive ( happy)and negative (distressing or unhappy) experiences in our life.
The procedure of therapy is simple. A detailed history is taken first. A relaxation exercise is given for homework-to be done from three to thirty minutes daily. In each session of therapy, relevant unresolved issues are addressed using imagery and associated emotions. As the person becomes calmer with therapy and relaxation exercises, the mind is challenged more intensely with each successive session. The previously unresolved issues become "irrelevant" as treatment proceeds. A common word used by clients is -"Realisation". They tend to have more insight and "forgiveness" follows spontaneously. Traumatic memories become more vivid initially and then become hazy as therapy proceeds. So everything traumatic in memory is capable of being neutralised. Eventually lessons are left behind from the experiences that were previously distressing.
As an issue is addressed a client may experience restlessness, anger and sadness in succession. A stage of numbness can sometimes precede sadness. As the body releases tension, the client may go into a prolonged phase of extreme tiredness that may last for upto two weeks. By this time the mind has released most of the 'misery creating' issues and becomes alert, interested in daily living but lacking the energy to enjoy daily activities. This is the penultimate phase in recovery. The end point in this work is always positive. If someone has not experienced positivity while engaging in Subjective Emotive Brief Therapy, they have not reached the end point.
After a person has concluded treatment, they are advised to continue some form of mental relaxation for as long as possible.