||Frequently Asked Questions about Transformational Trauma Therapies
- Actually, I DO have some challenges. But how does Trauma Therapy differ from “talk” therapy? I’ve tried it and it wasn’t very helpful.
First, there are about 1500 kinds of “talk” therapy, so it’s hard to generalize. All therapies need some talking, but Trauma Therapies go beyond talk. They work with natural brain processes to promote their return to positive health.
- What is the success rate and how long do I have to go to therapy?
The answer to this depends on your treatment goals and your history. If you are concerned about one issue, or one event, research on EMDR shows it can resolve Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) within 3 sessions for 80-90% of clients. For clients who were neglected or severely traumatized or as children, or for patterns of events repeated over years, Trauma Therapies can take proportionately longer, up to 1-2, or more, years for early issues. Either way, it saves you time and money compared to less efficient therapies.
- How do I decide which therapist is best for me?
Our trauma therapists are licensed clinicians who completed thorough trainings offered in her trauma specialties by approved trainers. Ask:
• Are you certified?
• How many have you helped with issues like mine?
• And talk long enough to get a sense of whether the person understands you and you have hope they can help you. This is the beginning of a therapeutic relationship, so your gut feeling is as important as reasoning out who has the necessary training, clinical judgment and successful experience to help you.
- What can I do to help myself gain the most from my trauma therapy?
• Be prepared for the therapist to teach you self-soothing techniques during this time of recovery. Take a little time each day to practice these self-care skills.
• Find those who are understanding in your support system, and invite them to read a little about the therapy you are doing, and ask specific ways they could help, such as:
• Make a list of 3 ways that could be most supportive to you, and see if your dear one or friend feels comfortable doing those things. Feel free to get their input and ideas. They may think of something you like better than their ideas. Anyway, you will want the kind of support they feel capable of giving.
• Invite supportive people to come to one session with the therapist to get information about your condition, the treatment and suggestions on how your support person or team can help.
- I’ve heard about therapy having “homework.” Does Trauma Therapy have lots of homework?
Homework is not required, usually brief if suggested. Compare this with about ½ to 1 hour per day required during the course of treatment for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a respected form of “talk” therapy.
- Changes with trauma therapy happen fast – but do they last?
After EMDR treatment is over, the treatment gains are maintained, or improved 15 months post-treatment.- Wilson and Tinker, 1995
- What are Trauma Therapies?
Trauma Therapies, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Brainspotting Protocol (BSP), and Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT) are more than psycho-therapeutic techniques. They are complete approaches that view trauma from past (whether recent past or distant past) as impacting your present and future. Thus, all 3 aspects are addressed for complete treatment that seeks to leave you freer to anticipate a safer and more positive future, with greater confidence in yourself.
- Why do you mention EMDR the most?
Because it is an exciting, positive way to achieve faster results. And there is so much confirming EMDR research for PTSD that EMDR is an accepted PTSD treatment by:
• American Psychological Association
• Department of Defense
• Veteran’s Administration
• American Psychiatric Association
• International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
• Almost all insurance companies
- How about research on Brainspotting and AIT?
These are at the early stage of the research with no comparison studies completed to date. So they are considered experimental. EMDR is also experimental for any application not yet thoroughly researched.
- How were Trauma Therapies Developed?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, (EMDR ) was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, a psychologist who made the spontaneous discovery that eye movements, combined with focused concentration on aspects of a memory, could assist the mind to rapidly decrease the disturbance under some circumstances. She was an ideal person to notice this, because she set about to methodically research the protocol she developed and published the successful results in 1989. Dr. Shapiro has encouraged many other researchers to do so much research that now there is more research on EMDR for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder than any other therapy. She has since developed EMDR into a comprehensive approach based on the Adaptive Information Processing model for explaining how well the brain can work when given appropriate assistance.
Brainspotting Protocol (BSP) was developed by a highly experienced EMDR therapist, Dr. David Grand. In the course of EMDR therapy on performance enhancement issues with an Olympic-level ice skater, he noticed certain anomalies in his client’s eyes as he was guiding her in eye movements as part of the EMDR Standard Protocol. Curiously, this anomaly happened at the same position repeatedly. It was another case of “paying attention.” (We may not know much about gravity today, or be flying in the air, had Sir Isaac Newton not paid attention to the fall of an apple, thought about it, and began to study the abstract concept of “gravity.”) The client finally obtained the key performance results she had been seeking, after just 10 minutes of Brainspotting (and after nearly a year of much improvement through EMDR therapy). She landed her “triple loop” jump. This discovery happened in the late 90’s, and is currently receiving international research attention.
Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT) has been developed by Asha Clinton, MSW, Ph.D. Interestingly, her gentle and efficient techniques have come to her through dreams. She woke up and wrote down the step-by-step, full and complete protocols. AIT was also first developed in the late 90’s, and is beginning to receive research attention. At this point there is a great deal of anecdotal support for its effectiveness. Clients and clinicians alike are very enthusiastic about the positive behavioral changes that seem to spontaneously and effortlessly flow out of them in the days and weeks after AIT sessions.
- What do these therapies have in common?
All of them believe in the importance of past negative experiences laying a foundation of disturbing thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and sensations that will later create blocks to optimum functioning in the present and future. These blocks can affect the way the individual sees himself, his support system, and his world. They all consider it essential to treat past, present, and future anticipation for treatment to be complete.
- How are they different?
EMDR’s Adaptive Information Processing model focuses on memories stored in the brain. Brainspotting Protocol’s model posits that additionally, memory can be stored in the spine and reflexive system.
Dr. Grand says Brainspotting is both brain-based and processes at levels deeper than the verbal area of the brain and including the spine. “Brainspotting is based on the profound attunement of the therapist with the patient, finding a somatic cue and extinguishing it by down-regulating the amygdala. It isn’t just PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System) activation that is facilitated, it is homeostasis.” - Robert Scaer, MD, “The Trauma Spectrum”
The intention of Advanced Integrative Therapy is to directly clear traumatic information from both brain and spine as well.
- How do they work?
How they work is attracting much research interest by brain researchers whose curiosity has been stimulated by the excellent results obtained from these powerful and unusual therapies. We still don’t know exactly how they work (we don’t know how any therapy works within the brain), but we have clues, and expect to learn more and more due to the research interest of brilliant scientists.
It can be helpful to use a metaphor frequently used by trauma therapists. It is as if the brain is too full of negative information that didn’t get “digested” when the disturbance originally happened. It remains stuck in the system, much as when we eat too much food, drink too little water, and certain other factors are present, the digestive and eliminatory system can experience a very uncomfortable “blockage.” That waste material should have moved through some time ago, and if it had, there would not be such discomfort.
The children’s book, “Dark, Bad Day, Go Away!” by Ana Gomez, MA uses the term “Eyes Moving to Digest and Recover” to help children understand the concept. Somehow the Eye Movements (or other forms of gentle, bilateral stimulation of the brain) do seem to help with emotional digestion. As that progresses, the negative “waste” products become less important. Positive beliefs about oneself (the “nutrition” within the food/experience) come to the fore. It may be something as simple as “It’s over. I AM safe now.” The experience can now be filed in it’s proper place in the long term memory. Clients say things like, “It seems far away, foggy” or “The war (that happened 20 years ago) is over and I can go home now.”
- What kinds of problems can Trauma Therapies help?
For a complete list, that includes descriptions of how a trauma therapy can help various problems, please see our Psychotherapy Specialties.
- Where can I check out the research on EMDR?
An excellent, up-to-date resource is the “Frequently Asked Questions” page on the website of the EMDR Institute: www.emdr.com >