Complex Trauma & PTSD

I work with military and civilian trauma survivors using the following evidence-based therapies for the treatment of trauma-related stress: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy, the Flash Technique, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Ego States therapy, and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

What is EMDR? How can it help me?

EMDR therapy is recognized as an effective form of trauma treatment in numerous practice guidelines worldwide. In the US, this includes organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association and Department of Defense. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a comprehensive, integrative psychotherapy approach. It contains elements of many effective psychotherapies in structured protocols that are designed to maximize treatment effects. These include psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered therapies. EMDR psychotherapy is an information processing therapy and uses an eight phase approach to treatment. I often use EMDR to help my clients “desensitize” to distressing trauma-related memories, emotions, and body sensations.

EMDR for Compulsive Behaviors

I am also trained to deliver the Desensitization of Triggers and Urge Reprocessing (DeTUR) Protocol for Addictive Behaviors that may be helpful in resolving your issues with compulsive behaviors whether they may be attributed to past trauma or not.

What is the Flash Technique? How can it help me?

The Flash Technique is a relatively recent individual and group intervention recognized for its effectiveness in reducing the effects of emotional responses associated with traumatic memories. Although the Flash Technique originated in the context of EMDR, there are publications suggesting that it should be considered as an independent trauma-related intervention that can be used outside of EMDR therapy. Its effectiveness has already been proven in a small number of case studies and most recently within a randomized control trial. The Flash technique uses various techniques to reduce trauma-related distress for the client such as: bilateral stimulation of the brain, rapid triple-blink “flashing” of the eyelids, and cognitive distraction.

What is Cognitive Processing Therapy? How can it help me?

Cognitive Processing Therapy or CPT is a twelve-session form of talk psychotherapy that focuses on helping people identify thoughts related to some aspect of their trauma that is preventing them from healing; you might say that these thoughts keep them “stuck” in the trauma as if it were happening in the present moment. To clinically address these “stuck points,” I help my clients actively modify these thoughts using several different cognitive techniques, including therapist-led discussions about certain aspects of the trauma and home-based writing assignments. CPT is an evidence-based treatment for PTSD that includes therapy discussions related to themes of safety, trust, power and control, and esteem and intimacy.

What is Ego States Therapy? How can it help me? 

Ego States refers to the theory that we as humans develop various “ego states” or personality traits that represent our patterns of beliefs and ways of responding to day-to-day experiences. These patterns can be conscious or unconscious; help us or create problems. For some individuals, there are ego states that were created out of necessity­­­­––to help them cope with trauma. Although useful at the time, the ego state that once prevented them from becoming overwhelmed by trauma, may now become problematic when reminders of the trauma cause it to activate the limbic system (“fight-flight-freeze” response) in reaction to perceived present-day threat. This may result in the activation of any number of trauma-related symptoms such as feeling disconnected from reality, having a panic attack, or engaging in compulsive behaviors. Developed in the 1970’s, Ego States Therapy is a modality of psychotherapy that helps identify and treat reactive ego states linked to past trauma.

How might Ego States Therapy enhance EMDR for resolving trauma?

 The thoughtful integration of Ego States Therapy with EMDR helps the therapist to:

  • Identify parts of the mind that have been separated or “hidden” to protect the client from psychological stress that may have been overwhelming for them at the time of the trauma.
  • Help the client reprocess and release the traumatic stress once the “wounded parts” of the mind have been identified.
  • Help the client reintegrate the separated parts of the mind so that they are conscious to them and less likely to activate the “fight-flight-freeze” response following therapy.

What is Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy? How can it help me? 

Although the original aim of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was to prevent a relapse into clinical depression by assisting individuals with making a “radical shift” in their relationship to thoughts, feelings, and body sensations associated with depression, more recent applications of MBCT to traumatized individuals appears to work in a similar manner. Mindfulness is a meditative practice that involves training one’s ability to pay attention to what is happening in the moment without reacting to elaborate mental stories about the experience and without reacting to distressing thoughts or emotions that may be present; instead, the experience is accepted without judgment or avoidance. In this way, I help my clients use the mindfulness techniques taught during therapy sessions to learn to witness trauma-related memories, emotions, and body sensations from a more distanced and less personal perspective, which may allow for more reflective and less emotional way of reacting.