The Couples Activation Reduction Technique – CART Summary Description
This technique involves the Anchor helping the Loved One by:
- Providing bilateral (left/right) stimulation by alternating gentle squeezing of your partner’s hands (slowly or in 1.5 second intervals) while affirming the Loved One’s worthwhileness with caring words such as “I love you,” and “I’m here.” The Anchor emotionally attends to the Loved One with loving eye contact during this process.
- Helping the Loved One use a physical object such as USB drive or a book as a metaphor that stores all the thoughts, emotions, feelings, sensations, etc. that happen when the story of their trauma / trigger is named. We name the title of the trigger story (as if it were a newspaper title) without going into any elements of the story at all.
- The Anchor encourages his partner to evoke in their mind’s eye an internal resource (something they can think about that makes them feel good such as an experience with a loved one).
- The Anchor makes sure that the Loved One is in their resourced experience by checking in.
- Then the Anchor begins the process, which consists of making sure the Loved One is enjoying being in a resourced state for approximately 4-5 hand squeezes before the Anchor says the word “flutter.” The word “flutter” is a cue to the Loved One to flutter their eyes. This is a way of acknowledging that the USB drive exists (the USB drive which happens to hold the trigger story) without actually thinking about the story. As soon as the Loved One flutters, the Anchor will verbally affirm them with their contact mantra such as “I love you,” “I am here.” They will do this two times, while continuing with the alternating hand squeezes and while maintaining positive and loving eye contact.
- The Anchor continues to encourage their partner to stay in their internal resource and they continue the CART for 5 rounds (i.e. 5 sets of fluttering eyes while in resourced state).
- The Anchor will then tell the Loved One he is going to stop squeezing their hands, and says gently, “Let’s take a few breaths,” as a way of transitioning away from the technique to the assessment phase.
- Then the Anchor has their partner assess how activated their nervous system is, using a SUDS scale (Subjective Unit of Disturbance), with 0 being calm and 10 being highly activated. The Loved One provides their SUDS number, while they are aware of the USB drive / book with the story on it. The SUDS is not to be confused with how disturbing the Loved One finds the story. We are rating the current nervous system state, not how unpleasant the trigger story is. Compare their current SUDS with their self-assessment of what their SUDS would have been an hour ago.
- If the Loved One’s SUDS is not a zero, then have them do another 5 sets of flutters while in their resource again. After 3 to 5 rounds, you should both notice significant reduction in the felt sense of activation.
- The Loved One tells the Anchor how it felt to have their SUDS come down so much and what it was like for them to have their partner help them with it.
- The Anchor tells the Loved One how it felt in their own heart and body to be able to provide such a loving and healing container.