CART Description of the Method.

CART Description:

The person holding space for their partner, the Anchor, grabs their partners hands and lovingly looks into their eyes and squeezes their hands about a second and a half apart saying, “I love you” and “I’m here” several times.  They then let their partner know that when they squeeze their hands it means “I Love you, and I’m here”  Then they help their partner choose an internal resource (something that if they thought about would make them feel good or loved).  Then they use a USB drive or book as a metaphor to place the trigger they want to reduce.  Then they get their partner embodied in their internal resource (all the while, they are continuing to squeeze their partners hands and provide them nonverbal ques that they love them with their eyes).  Then they have their partner flutter their eyes as a way of acknowledging that the USB drive or Book exists (without thinking about any of the content of the story).  Then they do a breathing exercise that soothes the nervous system.  Then they assess to what degree it helped their partner become less triggered.  They repeat until there is little or no activation.

The Method:

The Method has the following seven parts that are described below:

  1. “The Squeezies”
  2. Helping Your Partner Become Aware of an Internal Resource
  3. Introduce the Trigger
  4. Stabilizing the Preferred Experience
  5. The Weird Part –The Flutters
  6. Breathe Together to Make a Transition
  7. Assessment Phase

Part 1 )  “The Squeezies” 

The Anchor sits knee to knee facing the Loved One.

  • The Anchor makes sure that he maintains good eye contact with his partner, so his eyes are saying, “I love you,” “ I am here,” even before he says anything out loud.
  • The Anchor uses his left hand to lovingly squeeze her right hand. When the Anchor squeezes his left hand, he will lovingly look into her eyes and say, “I love you…” The Anchor will wait one and a half seconds.
  • The Anchor will lovingly squeeze the other hand and look into the Loved One’s eyes and say, “…And I’m here”. The first time he does this, he uses his own words (or he can copy these; it doesn’t matter so long as you do it from the heart).
  • “I’m here” is short for “I am in this relationship. I’m willing to show up.  I care. You are so important to me.  I’m invested in you and in us.  I choose you.”
  • The Anchor lovingly squeezes the left hand, then the right hand several times and with each squeeze alternates with the phrases, “I love you” and “I’m here.” Do this until you can tell your partner feels cared for.
  • After the Anchor has established a connection with his partner, he says, “Whenever I squeeze with this hand (while squeezing the right or left hand), it means, ‘I love you.’ And whenever I squeeze with this hand (the other hand), it means, ‘I am here.’”
  • The Anchor will rotate between the left hand and the right hand squeezing continuously until we get to the assessment phase of this technique. Be prepared to keep squeezing every 1.5 seconds for several minutes straight.  Keep on rotating squeezing even while providing directions.  Also, look at your partner with loving eyes.  This provides an additional nonverbal foundation of lovingness which is part of the healing element.

Part 2)  Helping Your Partner Become Aware of an Internal Resource

  • Still with loving eyes and rotating “squeezies,” the Anchor helps the Loved One brainstorm an internal resource. An internal resource is a memory or an association of something that makes you feel loved, relaxed, content, grateful, or happy.  It is like a 3-5 minute vacation in your mind’s eye.  If the Anchor knows a memory that the Loved One may have that could be used, he could suggest it.  But the Anchor should roll with the resource the Loved One finds useful and engaging.

The more evocative of an experience the better.  If possible, use a strong relational preferred experience.   Based on some of my experiences with my clients, “preferred internal experiences” or “internal resources” can include:

  1. Going for a walk with a friend
  2. Cuddling with their dog
  3. At a pub with friends
  4. A crazy night out with friends (from 10 or 20 years ago)
  5. On the beach in Hawaii
  6. The memory of their grandfather holding them as a child
  7. A beautiful sunset
  8. A loved one holding them
  9. A spiritual resource (Jesus or Mary or Buddha holding them),
  10. Surfing
  11. Hiking
  12. Performing a concert
  13. A video or memory of their child learning to ride a bike

 Part 3)  Introduce the Trigger

The Anchor helps the Loved One determine what trigger they want to help clear.  The Anchor has the Loved One describe the “newspaper headline” for the story.

The Anchor can tell the Loved One, “Don’t go into it and tell me the whole story or think too much about it.  Just tell me what the newspaper headline would be.”

Some examples of trigger “headlines”:

  1. Infidelity: He cheated on me with his co-worker in Berkeley.
  2. Anxiety after recovering from infidelity: She must be cheating now since she didn’t answer her phone.
  3. Pandemic: I’m going to die or infect someone else if I touch something wrong.
  4. Ideology trigger: Trump elected aka.. We are all screwed or Bernie elected, We are screwed.
  5. I feel unimportant: My Partner is on her cellphone in bed instead of connecting with me. I’m never going to get the love I need.

The Anchor uses a metaphor that helps the Loved One see the “threat idea” as a story that is separate from themselves. Below is a metaphor that I use that I find helpful.  You can use it or come up with a different metaphor that helps serve the same function.

Describing the USB Drive:

  1. Imagine that this (point to something specific, such as a pen) is a thumb drive.
  2. And in this thumb drive there is a folder.
  3. And in this folder, there is a Word 97 document.
  4. And in the Word document is a story.
  5. And the story is about the “(use the trigger headline your partner just came up with).”
  6. It has all of the emotions, feelings, reactions, overwhelm (you can guess a few of them: overwhelming, sad, hurt, lonely, etc.) associated with that experience or thought. Just name a few feelings that you suspect would be there but do it quickly enough so you are not inviting your partner to ruminate on them.  You are just acknowledging that they take up real estate in her brain.
  7. There is a 300-page story there. And that thumb drive is not plugged in to the computer.  And the computer is not on.  And the monitor is broken.  But nevertheless, in the thumb-drive, which we are not reading, is a story about “(trigger newsaper title your partner just came up with).”

Again, while doing this, the Anchor is still squeezing hands (alternating left and right) and every once in a while sprinkling in, “I love you” and “I’m here,” while lovingly looking into their partners eyes.

 Part 4)  Stabilizing the Preferred Experience

Prior to the next step, the Anchor will make sure the Loved One is solidly in the preferred experience so she does not leave it during this process.  Meaning that if and when the Loved One starts thinking of something else or leaves the preferred state by accident, help her back there.  If the Loved One can’t stay in a preferred experience, allow her to take her time to get there or change it to another one that is more gripping.

The Anchor helps the Loved One stabilize their internal preferred experience by helping evoke images, sensations, emotions, thoughts, or beliefs that are involved in the preferred experience they chose.


Instead of a short reminder like “Remember Hawaii,” help them experience Hawaii in their mind’s eye.

Use present tense verbs, such as:

Feel the sand in your feet.”

“Feel the warmth of the sun on your back.”

“Look at our daughter’s huge smile as she came back from snorkeling.”

 After each sentence, wait a few breaths so the Loved One has a chance to soak in the images and memories, and reconnect with the preferred experience.

If you can tell that they are really enjoying their experience, give them space to appreciate it without saying anything.  You don’t want to interrupt something good.

After the Loved One nods to acknowledge that they are enjoying being in their preferred state (while the alternating squeezing continues), the Anchor goes to Part 5.

Part 5)  The Weird Part –The Flutters

  • Anchor says to the Loved One, “When I say the word ‘Flutter,’ flutter your eyes several times to acknowledge the USB drive exists without thinking about anything particular that’s on it. Don’t count how many times you flutter, but flutter about 4-7 times.”
  •  The goal is to keep the Loved One in her preferred state before, during, and after the flutter. So, make sure that she is not accidentally thinking about the trigger.  Make sure that she “just flutters her eyes” as a symbol that the piece of plastic that contains the USB drive exists.  We are not thinking about the trigger story or even the headline of the story at all.  We want to pay special attention that they do not accidentally start thinking about the trauma memory.  There is nothing magical about fluttering the eyes, but it is a physical mechanism for getting them to be aware of something without thinking about it.
  • Every 4-6 squeezes (while the Loved One is in resource), Anchor says the word “Flutter” and monitors what is happening. Make sure that:
    1. The Loved One is not accidentally revisiting the trauma / trigger when they are fluttering.
    2. If they get derailed, then get them into a preferred experience (with your love, with your eyes, with your hands, and by helping her reconnect to the preferred experience). Make sure you get the Loved One into the preferred experience before having her flutter her eyes again.
    3. As soon as she stops fluttering, immediately give her two sets of “I love you,” “I’m here” (or whatever phrase you’ve replaced it with). Then, immediately steer her back into her preferred experience.  What we are doing here is distracting your partner from accidentaly starting to think about the content on the USB drive.  Your contact, words, and redirection at that key moment can be helpful for helping your partner stay with the process.  You are interrupting a moment where a trigger could have occurred.  This then gives her an experience of almost thinking about the “trigger” and not going down the rabbit hole of anxiety.

Do five sets of flutters (as described above).


Part 6) Breathe Together to Make a Transition

  • After 5 sets of “the flutters,” the Anchor encourages the Loved One to take a few deep breaths and then have a conversation about what happened.
    1. In the past, I only had the Anchor tell the Loved One to take three deep breaths and the technique worked marvelously. So, you can do that if you prefer.
    2. I’ve modified the technique recently to include 10 “V” breaths instead of just 3 deep breaths. A “V” breath is taking a deep breath and slowly make a “vvvvvvvvv” sound on the exhale.  The idea is to vibrate the diaphragm.  Evidently, when the diaphragm is relaxed, it sends a signal to the brain that the rest of the body is safe (i.e., we can chill).
      1. This Breathing technique was borrowed from Peter Levine. I have people do 10 deep very slow exhales because it can take 9 slow breaths to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

Part 7)  Assessment Phase

  1. Assess what is happening now for the Loved One. Anchor, say, “What is it like to be you right now, right this second?”

If she says something like:

  • “I feel more alive”
  • “Almost high”
  • “Colors are more vibrant”
  • “More relaxed”
  • “I’m a bit calmer”
  • “Relaxed”
  • “I feel like yawning”

Or something like that, then the Anchor can say (with great eye contact and while holding her hand), “What does this mean about Who You Are, that you are feeling …………….?”

This can evoke a sense of [Who I Am, I’m capable of self-soothing, self-regulating, calming down, etc].  It is empowering.

Celebrate that with them with a genuine expression of [Booom!   Right on!   Wow!   That’s Great!  Who you are is somebody who can shift states!   This is Big!!   YES]

2.  Anchor can say, “Wow, this is who you are!!!  This is you!  Wow!Then the Anchor asks the Loved One what their SUDS is (SUDS = Subjective Unit of Disturbance). The SUDS is how disturbed your nervous system is.  You are asking them to self-assess their state.  You are not asking them to determine how awful their story is on the USB drive.  Ask them to scale it 0 to 10 (with 0 as calm and 10 as very disturbed or jacked).

The Anchor says something like, “The story is very disturbing.  Let’s give the story a 9 or a 10.  But how activated is your nervous system right now, in the present, and at the same time, you are aware that this story exists?

Their SUDS will go down.  Sometimes all the way to 0.  Sometimes it will go from a 10 to a 7.  Then you do it again and it may go from a 7 to a 5.  Then you do another round again and it goes from a 5 to a 3.  You can almost always get it (the trigger’s impact in the present) cleared or substantially cleared.

The Brain Continues to Heal Days After

The brain is expanding neuropathways that have the capacity of changing gears rather than get sucked into thought loops (which create anxiety).  So, by the time we’ve done 5 rounds of flutters, the brain has experienced, in real time, the ability to redirect itself into a preferred direction about 25 times and the brain experienced this while feeling pleasure.

The Loved One will often be tired for a couple hours after this experience.  That is normal because their brain is subconsciously doing a lot of work in the background.  Often if SUDS don’t go all the way down to a zero, they get even lower within a few days (without additional processing) because the subconscious will continue to apply the new learning to other parts of the brain.