Leading the Way in Trauma Therapy

Feb 25, 2020, 7:04 AM

This is a question I often hear, not only from prospective clients, but also from friends and acquaintances.

So first of all, I’m not one of those people who sees therapy as part of a healthy lifestyle like exercise should be. I see therapy as something you only do when you need to. You do the work, get it over with, and go back to normal life, with the new normal hopefully being better th ...

Read More
Nov 28, 2017, 9:29 PM

How long does it take to get traumatized? A few minutes? A few seconds? The brain can make profound changes very quickly – right?

So how long does it take to get untraumatized, to heal? Can the brain make that profound change quickly as well?

As it turns out: Yeah, pretty much.

EMDR set the standard for efficient, effective trauma therapy (Greenwald et al, 2017), and PC may be even more efficien ...

Read More
Jul 6, 2017, 8:42 PM

Like most people, I never set out to develop a new trauma treatment. It happened more or less by accident. I had long regarded eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR; Shapiro, 2001) as the trauma treatment of choice, because it is so effective, as well as being better tolerated and more efficient than the other leading brands (Greenwald et al, 2017). The problem with EMDR is that ...

Read More
Jun 12, 2017, 7:46 PM

One of the striking features of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), as well as progressive counting (PC), is that the therapy action seems to occur entirely inside the client’s mind. This has led some people to proclaim that, for these methods, the therapy relationship is superfluous.

Early on in PC’s development, I conducted brief post-session interviews to learn more about ...

Read More
May 7, 2017, 3:10 PM

Is there a best child trauma therapy yet?

Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) appears to be the clear leader in that it has a ton of research support (Cohen, Mannarino, & Deblinger, 2017). Yet eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) also has a fair bit of research support, and was more efficient than TF-CBT in two of the three direct comparisons.

One problem with i ...

Read More
Apr 3, 2017, 8:56 PM

After completing trauma healing therapy (such as EMDR, PC, etc.), most clients report feeling and doing a lot better. But a few do not, for a variety of reasons addressed in a previous post. Another reason? Bad habits that maintain depression.

Trauma healing clears depression by reducing emotional pain, and by changing the thought and behavior patterns that feed it. Clients initially presenti ...

Read More
Feb 28, 2017, 4:15 PM

It’s tough to repair a marriage following infidelity, even if both parties really want to. I’ve seen it over and over, variations on a theme:

  • Frankie cheats, and then says Sorry, and means it. But doesn’t address the root causes of the cheating, so Sorry doesn’t do much good. Johnnie wants to trust again, but knows better.
  • Or Frankie not only says Sorry but also goes to therapy and insists t ...
Read More
Feb 4, 2017, 7:04 PM

The other day my five-year-old and her friend were excitedly planning their next get-together. Mine said, “And we’ll play hide and seek!” and her friend said, “And we’ll think all the same thoughts!”

This longing for magical closeness does not fade with age. But finishing each others’ sentences (or sandwiches) is not always all it’s cracked up to be – as Anna (in Frozen) learned the hard w ...

Read More
Jan 9, 2017, 1:08 PM

Most of our intensive therapy clients achieve profound healing from their trauma and loss memories. This typically leads to a dramatic reduction of symptoms, which in turn enables them to pursue their goals more effectively. Once in a while, though, there’s a glitch. Days, or even weeks or months, after the trauma work is done, the client reports feeling destabilized.

There are three common re ...

Read More
Nov 1, 2016, 1:16 PM

We’re in the golden age of trauma therapy. We have research-supported treatments that are effective, efficient, and well-tolerated by clients. A lot of traumatized people are getting a lot more better than they ever dreamed was possible.

Yet many people who contact me for help are leery, because they’ve already tried trauma therapy and had a bad experience.

So you get into a room with a therapi ...

Read More
Aug 4, 2016, 3:30 PM

A slide in one of our training programs used to list prolonged exposure (PE) as “the gold standard” of trauma therapies, but then we took out the “g.” For two reasons. One is that eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) has now surpassed PE, in acceptability to clients as well as efficiency (Greenwald et al, 2016). The other is that the gold standard trauma therapy should be usef ...

Read More
Mar 6, 2016, 11:49 PM

The standard of care in trauma therapy includes a stabilization phase prior to engaging in the trauma resolution work. This preliminary phase gives clients an opportunity to improve their affect regulation and coping skills, in order to be more successful in facing and overcoming their trauma memories during therapy. This standard has just been challenged in a critique co-authored by 21 promi ...

Read More
Dec 5, 2015, 9:35 PM

I don’t really know. Self-help books have kind of a bad reputation, right? They’re like diets: you get the suckers to pay for each new one that comes along, and the sellers are the main beneficiaries.

Okay, I’m sure some legitimate self-help books are published, that provide useful information, and teach useful skills and attitudes. In my particular areas of interest, I can think of a few that ...

Read More
Jul 28, 2015, 12:24 PM

So you’ve found a good trauma therapist, now you can just relax and get treated, right? Well, not exactly... getting psychotherapy is not like getting a massage. Your therapist will be asking a lot of you, both in session and out. Here are some things you can do, on your own initiative, to get the most out of your therapy. Then you will have the best chance of solving your problems and achiev ...

Read More
Jun 25, 2015, 8:52 AM

So you want to go for it, but you’re not sure how to go about it? Here’s the step by step.

Get Referrals

One good source of referrals can be people whose opinion you respect, whether that be a friend, clergy, doctor, or someone else. But take the referral with a grain of salt, because:

  • Not every good therapist is good at trauma therapy. And the person who makes the referral might not know how ...
Read More
Mar 27, 2015, 6:33 AM

The concept of post-traumatic growth has been around since long before the term was coined. For example, people have long proclaimed, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The thing is, sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, the point of trauma-focused therapy is to help those who have been wounded by their experiences to heal and come out stronger. In other w ...

Read More
Feb 26, 2015, 10:34 AM

Economic value is an important consideration in obtaining mental health care. Nobody wants to spend more than they have to, and that applies to individuals as well as grant funders, insurance companies, or government agencies. I’ve found that the idea of “getting it done” via intensive trauma therapy appeals to many people, but some wonder about the cost. Fortunately, economy and quality are ...

Read More
Nov 30, 2014, 7:34 PM

Want to know why some relationships thrive and others deteriorate? This excellent and readable summary of the research tells us that it comes down to two things: emotional stability, and kindness.

Let’s start with what kindness looks like in a relationship: a positive, interested, supportive response to your partner’s reaching out. We’re not only talking about flowers or hugs here – just the n ...

Read More
Oct 29, 2014, 8:21 AM

The medical model has historically been promoted as the foundation of the psychotherapy approach, despite being a poor fit for psychotherapy (Wampold, 2010). In medicine one can actually provide a specific treatment for a properly diagnosed disorder and thereby effect a cure. However, mental health diagnoses are largely behaviorally defined rather than based on underlying dynamics or etiology ...

Read More
Jul 31, 2014, 8:20 AM

What makes trauma treatment work? And what can make it work better? This is another in an irregular series of posts focusing on key elements of trauma treatment.

One of the early debates about eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR; Shapiro, 2001) was whether or not the eye movement component actually contributed to the treatment effect, or was just a gimmick. Despite the EMDR ori ...

Read More