What is Depth Enquiry?

Depth Enquiry is the Relational Gestalt Therapy version of traditional EMDR. It is a powerful therapeutic approach for freeing up stuck negative beliefs about yourself, resolving trauma, anxiety, phobias, underlying shame and integrating implicit memories,

Depth Enquiry was developed by Amanda Gruhn after her training in EMDR, and over a span of 11 years when working with clients suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and a wide range of trauma-related symptoms.

Depth Enquiry builds on EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) principles and is further informed by the theories and approaches of trauma experts such as Bessel van der Kolk, Pat Ogden, Janina Fischer and Peter Levine, whilst retaining the holistic tenets of Gestalt psychotherapy at its foundation.

EMDR background

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a well-established technique for the relief of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and symptoms of trauma. You are guided through a number of reflective stages, whilst following eye movements (usually by following hand movements or pencil held by the therapist and swung gently in a rhythmic way). These eye movements invoke bilateral stimulation of brain centres that hold stored memories.

EMDR unlocks traumatic memories, and enables them to be released into long-term memory, where they have less impact on your well-being. As a result, your reactions to potentially traumatising stimuli in the environment become markedly less severe.

Isn’t EMDR Enough?

It can be. Yet Depth Enquiry feels more holistic, fluid, embodied and relaxed. Depth Enquiry feels deeper because it is less interrupted, and it leans more on the therapeutic relationship. Depth Enquiry feels less clinical; it lends itself more to a humanistic therapeutic setting than does EMDR.

And the results are at least as good, often better.

How Does Depth Enquiry differ From EMDR?

Depth Enquiry feels more holistic, more fluid, more embodied, more relaxed.
There are several ways in which Depth Enquiry differs from EMDR.

The Therapist:

  • Encourages you to stay in the developing process for the entire Depth Enquiry session.
  • Encourages an experience of depth, by directing you to notice thoughts, feelings, memories and physical sensations.
  • Supports and encourages a sense of fluidity, movement and process.
  • Uses reflective listening and channels you further into the depth of the experience.
  • Encourages you to put experiences into language.
  • Refocuses you towards what you sense are missed experiences and directs you to deepen into these missed experiences.

How does it work?

Depth Enquiry is a process of working with a distressing memory or image and often a broad belief about yourself, such as: nobody loves me; there’s something wrong with me; or I am in danger. The approach is facilitated by the therapist, while you’re listening to bilateral sounds through a headset. You’re guided to explore your inner experience, through free association as you notice and allow all thoughts, memories, sensations and feelings which are linked to the image and the belief.

It is often surprising what relationships and experiences have been linked to the negative self-belief within the brain and nervous system. I support you to notice, accept and allow yourself to move through everything which comes up.

Gradually, you progress and naturally cycle back to the image and belief as the level of distress reduces. This process is repeated in further sessions and the level of distress associated with the memory and belief diminishes. Over the course of treatment, memories are unhooked from the belief and become just like any other semantic or explicit memories, without big negative emotions attached to them.

Further, the aim is that the negative belief eventually be replaced with a positive or neutral one, such as “I am okay”.

Over time, the memory of the event can be recalled without overwhelming sensation or discomfort.

What is the difference between regular therapy and Depth Enquiry?

Depth Enquiry is just deeper and faster therapeutic way of working with stuckness, trauma and resistence. Depth Enquiry can be used as a standalone method or be incorporated into the process of individual therapy.

Often in therapy clients will say something like “I know I’m safe, but why don’t I feel safe!” That’s an example of a belief we would work on, allowing a facilitated deep internal dive until the big emotion and embodied feeling is uncoupled from the belief and the memory.

Can I close my eyes?

Yes. Depth Enquiry uses bilateral sounds to support integration between your brain hemispheres, and you are encouraged to close your eyes, if that feels okay for you.

I can’t think of a specific belief, my negative feelings are too general, what should I do?

No problem! Many people have the same worry. I will support you to identify a belief which feels true for you. You may know it’s not true (left brain/cognitively) but we are after a more emotional/embodied belief that still lives on inside. Often these embodied negative self-beliefs can cause one to overreact, be defensive or become emotionally triggered. Commonly these beliefs and responses are incongruent with what you know about yourself. The work of Depth Enquiry is in the integration of all the building blocks of awareness (sensations, images, memories, emotions, impulses, feelings, etc.). We will be able to get to a negative self-belief together, even if the whole first session is dedicated to refining the belief, it is very important therapeutic work and time well spent.

I don’t think I will be able to do it – Can I do it wrong?

Not really. As long as you’re able to notice and allow all the thoughts, memories, sensations, emotions and feelings which arise to be as they are, you are doing it right.

Do I have to tell you everything?

No. If you would like to work on something which is private or impossible for you to talk about, then you may, as long as you are able to share a bit about the event, and how you support yourself before we begin. You are always in control of what you report. You may choose only to report some of the thoughts you have and some of the body sensations and emotions and you may choose to keep the memories to yourself.

Is it effective online?

Absolutely! Many people prefer to have a depth enquiry session from the comfort of their own home, to sit in a comfortable chair or lay in their own bed, and they have the benefit of being about to immediately sleep, reflect or rest afterwards.

How long does it take?

Everyone is different. Some people find great benefit in fewer than four sessions, whilst others require more than eight. Generally, the longer you’ve had the negative belief and the greater the level of distress, the more sessions you will need – although that is not true for everyone. For a younger brain with greater plasticity, and fewer reinforcing negative experiences, resolution and desensitisation can be surprisingly fast and effective.

How frequently can we do Depth Enquiry?

This is such an individual thing, and it depends on how the experience is for you. For some the experience is very intense, and they prefer to space them out by a few weeks or a month. Others prefer to have numerous sessions of depth enquiry per week in order to process and heal whatever needs to be processed fast.

Will I lose my memories?

No, you will not lose your memories. It will just be more integrated by your nervous system and your brain’s memory systems.

Will forgotten or suppressed memory come back?

This is possible. If you have forgotten or suppressed memory from some time in your life, some of those memories may return to you in a Depth Enquiry session. If that happens I will support you to allow the memory to be there and to move through it as part of the overall experience. As your capacity grows to integrate and move through more of your previously overwhelming experience you may find your brain and memory system present more to be processed, and we can work together to develop a customised and evolving treatment plan which suits you.

When undertaking a process such as Depth Enquiry, a sense of freedom is possible from the trauma of your past experiences.

~ Adapted from the works of Amanda Gruhn & HealingGround

Depth Enquiry

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