Emotional Transformation Therapy (ETT), a therapeutic method incorporating the use of light, color wavelengths, and eye movements, aims to rapidly transform emotional distress and related physical pain into a positive emotional state.
Professionals trained in ETT work to help those in therapy address trauma and other pain and achieve lasting, healing change.
The Development of ETT
Emotional Transformative Therapy, developed by contemporary psychologist Dr. Stephen Vazquez in 1991, is a relatively new form of therapy. Vazquez’s studies in the fields of epigenetics, optometry, neurobiology, and quantum physics influenced various aspects of his development of ETT as he attempted to establish a therapeutic technique beneficial for the reduction of emotional and physical distress. His noninvasive, non-pharmaceutical approach combines traditional psychotherapy with the use of visual brain stimulation and colored light therapy for reportedly fast results.
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ETT draws on the concepts of interpersonal therapy and visual brain stimulation therapy. This research-driven approach is used by trained practitioners to transform emotional distress without the use of drugs and medications. ETT aims to help the person in treatment move swiftly from a difficult emotional state into a more positive emotional state—from despair to empowerment, unhappiness to joy, or trepidation to courage, and so on—through the remedial use of light and color wavelengths, which can be administered through a light box designed specifically for ETT.
How Does ETT Work?
Many people who seek therapy do so when they experience mentally or physically unpleasant states or feel trapped by their emotions, feelings, memories, or current situation. In ETT, neural impulses are used in conjunction with specific forms of eye movement and stimulation to target these uncomfortable emotional and physical states in the corresponding areas of the brain.
Specifically, the brain is stimulated with lights and colors in order to reshape the neural impulses affecting the brain and the nervous system. The therapist observes the emotional responses of the person in therapy and helps facilitate productive regulation through verbal cues meant to induce rapid emotional and behavioral changes.
Discoveries in light therapy show particular wavelengths of light to be able to help transform a person’s emotional state when administered properly. ETT theory, which is grounded in this principle, incorporates interaction between the therapist and the person in therapy to create what proponents of ETT believe to be an effective method for the rapid restoration of a positive emotional state.
Techniques Used in an ETT Session
An ETT practitioner will first conduct an assessment to gather relevant information pertaining to the history and desired therapy outcomes of the person seeking treatment. The therapist typically performs a photosensitivity test in order to design the most effective treatment program, as each person seeking treatment is likely to have a unique response to color and light. When the therapist has established a good rapport with the person seeking treatment, formal ETT begins. The person in treatment and the therapist are positioned in a dark room, with the person seated very close to both the light and the therapist.
During the therapy, light wavelengths are repeatedly emitted at a low level into the eyes of the person being treated. The light blinks rapidly to stimulate the desired level of brainwave activity, and the therapist will likely select specific colors in order to stimulate the neural pathways. During the treatment process, psychotherapy techniques are generally used to engage the person in conversation. Eye movements and eye position combine with the use of light to achieve different affects, such as memory retrieval, cognitive reframing, or improvement in physical symptoms.
By receiving light therapy along with a more traditional type of talking therapy, the individual’s sense of awareness is typically maximized, and healing may be seen in a shorter period of time than when talk therapy is used in isolation. The individual maintains control throughout but may be likely to see dramatic changes in mood by acting on the cues of the therapist with regard to breathing, eye movement, and talking.
This form of therapy can be conducted in concentrated periods of time, which may speed up the recovery process. However, it can also have transforming effects when done weekly or several times each week. The treatment is reported to work remarkably swiftly, notwithstanding any other medical issues, addictions, or mental health concerns. The ultimate length of treatment is generally determined by a person’s physical and psychological construction.
Issues Treated with ETT
ETT may be used to treat a number of psychological and somatic conditions, such as:
This type of therapy can be helpful in the transformation of painful emotions or feelings, which can help ease symptoms related to trauma or other concerns, such as nightmares and stress. ETT may also be helpful to individuals who wish to address emotions that can have a negative impact on well-being, such as anger, fear, or shame.
Light therapy in general has been supported by research as an effective treatment technique for mood conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Training and Accreditation
People considering ETT may wish to make certain the therapist offering ETT is adequately trained and certified in the use of light therapy techniques. If the therapist administering ETT is properly credentialed, most insurance companies will cover this treatment method just as they would cover any other type of behavioral health treatment.
Training and certification in ETT is available to interested therapists through the Emotional Transformative Therapy International Association (ETTIA). The ETTIA offers five levels of training. In these courses, participants learn the theory behind ETT, therapy modalities, methods of applying certain modalities to certain conditions, and operation of the light device specific to ETT. Training related to religious and spiritual issues is also offered: In this training, participants learn how to take the religious or spiritual history of the person seeking treatment, as some practitioners have found the integration of religious and spiritual issues into ETT to be helpful, if and when it is appropriate and suitable for both the therapist and person in treatment.
Limitations and Concerns of ETT
A number of studies support the efficacy of ETT, but most of these have been conducted by ETT’s founder, Stephen Vazquez. Therefore, outside testing is likely warranted before the scientific validity and reliability of this particular therapy method can be entirely established.
People who have a history of seizures are warned to take precautions when considering ETT, as the repeated output of light may affect their condition. Some individuals may also find ETT to be overstimulating, and others may see no improvement from this type of therapy.