Over the weeks Bob and I continued working on what was distressing him at the time. At one point he came in late, after getting lost because the sound of a truck and the weather reminded him of a particularly distressing event during a firefight in Iraq. Although it was unpleasant for Bob, having been triggered on the way to my office was a fortunate event. It made working on that particular image much easier because it was right at the surface. Bob had basically had a full blown flash back (that is when it feels like you are reliving the old traumatic event). Bob was able to stay in the present enough to get to my office and he was aware of himself enough to know that what was happening. This is not always the case with people when they experiencing PTSD symptoms.
So with very little talking, we immediately began using TAT. Bob responds extremely well to TAT and within a few minutes he was visibly calmer. Bob reported that his vision had been foggy (indicating disassociation) and hid body had felt numb. Now Bob was reporting that he felt centered, clear and grounded in his body. We checked back on the image of the event that had triggered Bob and although he felt sad that a pregnant woman died in the fire fight, he was no longer haunted by it. Unfortunately, since the fire fight was at night there was no way to know she was there. Bob explained that even if they knew she was there she may have been part of the group that had fired on our marines. When doing trauma work I know that an event is processed when there is the appropriate amount of emotion left and not an eraser of memories or emotions.