Leading the Way in Trauma Therapy

Jan 6, 2016, 12:10 PM

Therapists often ask me which trauma treatment they should learn: eye movement desensitization & reprocessing (EMDR) or progressive counting (PC).

First of all: Yes – you should learn EMDR or PC, if you haven’t already! Efficient, effective trauma treatment methods enable therapists to systematically guide clients in healing from their psychological wounds. This is much better than merely teac ...

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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 ...

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Nov 2, 2015, 7:48 PM

Maybe this story starts when, at age 11, I tell my uncle that when I grow up, I want to make the world better. He both smiles and scoffs, knowing that I’ll learn the ways of the world and get a regular job like everyone else. I scoff back, because I know I will do it.

As a young adult, I was not sure exactly how to do this. I felt that I had missed the boat. All the boats: Freud was long g ...

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Aug 31, 2015, 3:18 PM

We have a project looking for a home. We want to create a brief intensive trauma therapy diversion program for teens on their way into residential placement. The goal is to dramatically reduce time in residential placement, reduce costs accordingly, and improve outcomes. If it works – which it should – this can become a preferred alternative to typical longer-term residential care. Here are t ...

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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 ...

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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 ...
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May 4, 2015, 10:10 PM

Is it possible to inoculate, or de-traumatize, someone who has just experienced a probably-traumatic event?

This would entail somehow interfering with the traumatization process, if slightly after the initial fact of the event. When distress and shock overwhelm the mind’s normal ability to process and integrate an experience, it is consolidated, or stored, as a traumatic memory. Traumatization ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Jan 28, 2015, 12:45 PM

Perhaps Freud said it best over a century ago: a healthy person is able to work and love. This is pretty much what parents want for their children (along with simply surviving childhood): to grow up to be able to work and achieve, and to be caring, decent people. Fortunately, by now there is quite a bit of research on how to help our kids get there. Here are some of the key strategies that wo ...

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Jan 2, 2015, 1:01 PM

In our clinical practice and training programs, we use a highly structured and directive treatment approach. The reason for this is that you (the therapist) are the professional, and your client is contracting you for services so that s/he can achieve his/her treatment-related goals. You are supposed to be the one with the expertise to deliver the service effectively and efficiently.

This is n ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Oct 1, 2014, 9:10 AM

The landmark Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study found that childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic violence, death of a parent, etc., incurred lasting and deleterious effects not only on mental health but also on medical status. Furthermore, there was a cumulative effect: each additional type of adverse childhood experience led to a dramatically greater lifet ...

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Aug 27, 2014, 6:05 PM

I have a lot of beefs (beeves? plenty beef?) with extant trauma training practices, so I might be offending a lot of prominent people here. Hopefully to good purpose. However, I will not be calling out trauma treatment training approaches by name, other than EMDR, which I can critique more freely as that is my own professional “family”.

My training institute recently conducted a needs assessme ...

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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 ...

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Jul 1, 2014, 2:41 PM

How different things will be when we better understand how trauma can affect people!

“Michael” was a mid-40's married professional who had been subjected to extensive childhood abuse. In the course of his work with a particular client, the abuse memories became activated and his first-ever manic episode ensued. After a couple of months, at the urging of his wife, he came for therapy. Howev ...
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May 30, 2014, 12:40 PM

Last Saturday my 5-year-old daughter saw her friends go by on their way to shul, and she decided to try to catch up to them, before the rest of our family was ready to go. She’s walked this residential-area half-block daily for some time, often by herself or with her same-age sister. This time, though, a minute later she returned to the house in tears, and rushed into her mother’s arms. Throu ...

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May 6, 2014, 10:13 PM

Chicken and egg. Someone is unstable due to traumatization. So do you focus on stabilization interventions, which means the client continues to struggle with the trauma? Or do you take the leap, risking further destabilization, to treat the trauma and solve the problem?

For example, many substance abusers have been told by therapists, “You can’t work on your trauma until you’ve been sober/clea ...

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Apr 6, 2014, 8:30 PM

Perhaps the most frequent theme across posts in this blog is the promotion of psychotherapy for healing – via memory reconsolidation – as opposed to only symptom management, coping skills, emotional support, etc.

This seems to strike a chord, and the blog post Got Memory Reconsolidation? has received the most “hits” (visits) of any so far. Therapists say (in various ways), “Yes! This is what I ...

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