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                    Acacia Counseling
           Gene Douglas, M.Ed. LPC LMFT


To treat a problem using TAT, follow these instructions:
1.) Rate the strength of your feeling you are experiencing right now, on a scale of 1-10, when you think of the problem.
That number is the SUD (Subjective Units of Discomfort.)
2.) Put your thumb against the inside corner of one eye. Place the ring finger against the inside corner of the other eye.
3.) Place the middle two fingers against your forehead, about a quarter inch above a line between the eyebrows so the
two fingers are lined up with the upper part of the eyebrow.
4.) Cup the other hand, and place it behind your head, with the thumb against your neck, right where it meets the base of the skull.
The little finger will be pressed against your head where it rests. Don't lay your hand flat against your head.
5.) Close your eyes and think of the feeling or event or person that bothers you. Continue for one minute, or until you feel a "shift"
in your body before that. This may be a reflexive sigh.
6.) Keep your pose, and repeat a statement reminding you of the problem in your mind. It may be a person's name,
a phrase about what happened, or the name of the feeling. Continue repeating for one minute, or until you feel a shift.
7.) Keep the pose, and repeat in your mind a statement which is opposite of the problem -- even if you don't believe it.
This might be "I will feel comfortable when I do that," or "I will feel calm and relaxed," whatever is opposite to what has been the case.
Continue repeating for one minute, or until a shift occurs.
8.) Keep the pose, and concentrate your attention on the part of your body where you feel your feelings. That will be different for different people.
Continue for one minute, or until a shift occurs.
9.) Rate your SUD again.

TAT Links:
Learning and Using TAT
How To Do TAT

Recommended Reading

Alcoholism -- What About a "Higher Power?"

Sometimes a person rejects Alcoholics Anonymous, because some of their steps refer to a "higher power."  He says he doesn't believe in a higher power, so he can't use the steps of AA.  That's a very odd thing to say.

It would be extremely arrogant to say there is no higher power than me.  Firstly, my biology is more powerful than me.  Alcohol has an effect on every cell in my body.  Once it's in there, I have no control over what it does to my physiology and my body chemistry.  Once alcohol has been a part of my life for a while, the fact that brain cells are killed, or are "pruned" in response to that is beyond my control, other than to stop dousing my brain cells with more alcohol.

Secondly, my psychology is more powerful than me.  I am not Spock.  There is more that affects my behavior than just logic.  In fact, most of my brain functions beyond my conscious awareness. The lower part consists of several parts called the "reptilian brain,"  because even a lizard has that much.  All of that operates automatically, without rational control from me.  

There is an area behind my forehead, about the size of my hand, called the pre-frontal lobe.  That area does much of my logical thinking.  There is also a thin rind covering my brain which also engages in conscious thinking.  All the rest of it is the grey matter on the inside, which is most of it, and I am not consciously aware of what it is doing at the time it does whatever.  

In other words, the irrational aspects of my brain are at least as involved in my behavior as the rational ones.  Why is this important?  It means I can not just use logic and "will power" to overcome an addiction.  Will power follows feelings, and it can be used for opposite (harmful) purposes as well.  The craving for alcohol enlists the intellect to work on ways to get it, and that becomes "will power."  

Smart people become addicted, because addiction has nothing to do with how smart you are.  A doctor, known for his superior intelligence, might think he knows how much of a drug to take, and when to quit, and be completely fooled, because those irrational parts of his brain take over.

Another thing more powerful than a person is his family.  He may think he is in charge, but he is reacting to them as much as they are reacting to him.  Improving his family relations can influence his recovery from addiction.  His AA group is more powerful than him.  His prospects for recovery improve when he has a support group, than if he tries to "white knuckle it" on his own.  

One's community is more powerful than himself.  It provides employment, goods and services he needs, and law enforcement to restrict lawbreaking.  Good relations with his community enhance his well being.

So how do I put my addiction into the hands of a higher power?  To deal with psychology and biology, one can take an attitude of let go and let be.  What will be will be, especially in his desire to control his world.  He has probably tried will power many times and failed.  He has tried to use his intelligence, and the irrational part of himself has won, because his addiction is controlled by a different part of his brain.  He must drop that attempt, and instead use the resources around him as a higher power.

Relying on his support group goes a long way toward his recovery, one day at a time.  Recognizing those things as a "higher power" allows him to fulfill that step of the AA 12-step program.  

One step refers to God "as we know him."  As we know him is the operative part of that phrase. One person may substitute "reality" for "God."  Reality is his god.  He can turn his life over to reality, which includes his biology, his psychology, his support group and his family relations.

Part of his reality is his conscience.  Making amends addresses his conscience, and the "reality" of right and wrong.  He may have been telling himself for a long time he was a good person, and an inner voice may be reminding him that he has behaved like a jackass at times.  He will be in inner conflict so long as part of him is saying he is good, and another part is saying he is a jackass. He has to find a way to make his wrongs right, to remove that conflict from his mind.

Again, all of this is recognizing that realities all around him are more powerful than his intellect or will power, but that he can use those realities to enhance his recovery.