“In complicated grief, what happens is, you haven’t just lost the person, you’ve lost your identity.” ~Dr. Mark Rider
Indulge me while I flaunt my undergrad performing arts degree for a sec: Shakespeare famously opened his comedy Twelfth Night with Orsino calling for an excess of music to cure his lovesick heart. “If music be the food of love, play on,” laments the frustrated duke. Shakespeare understood music’s effect on the psyche of his fictional characters and his real-life audience.
Fast-forward four hundred years. Mark Rider, PhD, doesn’t write plays. Instead, he developed a language for understanding the lyrical relationship between body and brain. “We learned how to use music improvisation to mirror a person’s pain, to mirror a person’s imagery of their cancer. And then we would change that music [so] it went in a healing direction.”
His work might best be described as a chemical connect-the-dots. Dopamine. Endorphins. Serotonin. There’s a reason your favorite piece of music makes you feel good – the brain produces all three of these chemicals in response. “They found that music activates almost every neuro- what we call “healing” neurotransmitter in the brain,” Mark says.
Mark has adapted that mirroring further, creating a revolutionary treatment option called revisioning. In practice, the psychotherapy technique “activates” the same neurotransmitters of the brain when a client sits across from and communicates with a mirror image of their loved one (in the instance of grief) or themselves (in cases of trauma, depression, PTSD, etc). What’s notable is the speed with which the healing takes place. “That rapid comforting is one of the things we noticed so quickly that somebody could feel,” Mark says. “You can see when that happens because their whole demeanor just changes.”
As someone who’s experienced the power of revisioning in my own healing work, I am deeply grateful that this modality exists. I’m fascinated by revisioning as a stand alone treatment and how it can be employed in tandem with other modalities for addressing complex trauma.
My conversation with Mark is iambic pentameter-free, by the way, and, you can hear a firsthand account of my personal revisioning experience on CWH episode 134.
Dr. Mark Rider has been a licensed psychologist in Southlake, TX, for over 20 years. He has post-doctoral training in Neurotherapy, EMDR, Cognitive Hypnotherapy, and Psychopharmacology. His first book, The Rhythmic Language of Health and Disease (1997), demonstrated that neuroplastic shifts in the brain can be created by music and imagery, and were essential for health. His next book, Revisioning: Mirror Therapy for Unresolved Grief (2014) revolutionized the treatment of complicated grief. This technique has been shown to be 99% effective with this condition. Together with Lynn Heselton, their latest book, Revisioning: Rapid Mirror Neuron Psychotherapy for Grief and Trauma, has created groundbreaking treatments for PTSD, Personality Disorders, and Dissociative Disorders without the client having to relive the traumas.
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Dr. Mark Rider
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