"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. it is a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity." ~Pema Chodron
In a therapeutic relationship built on a foundation of genuine human connection and shared compassion, each form of treatment evolves naturally and uniquely based on the individual essence and experience that one presents. To think in terms of "modalities" that apply generally to types of "diagnoses" is to limit creative possibilities for personal transformation. Listed below are several of the ways of engaging in treatment that I have used most frequently and effectively. I have always, and will continue to be, open to learning new approaches through professional training, writings and speaking presentations of notable practitioners, and working with so many honest and courageous clients whom I have been privileged to serve.
While the term “Talk Therapy” has taken a rap in recent years as being perhaps limited in its effectiveness, the value of telling the stories of who we are and how our lives have unfolded to this point in time is essential to engagement in an effective therapeutic process. Beyond the information that is conveyed, the experience of giving voice to our experience, some of which may have never or rarely been told to another or acknowledged even to ourselves, and being heard by someone who is committed to being fully present with us and taking us in with heartfelt compassion and without judgement, can be transformative in itself. There is also an emerging consensus in the psychotherapeutic field that attentive eye contact, along with the resonance of voice, body, and mind, can begin to alter neural pathways so that our relationship with stored memory becomes less reactive or frightening than it may have historically been. There is a shared responsibility in creating the environment in which our stories can be revealed, taken in, and responded to. When careful time is taken to practice meaningful verbal communication, the transition into working with less conventional, more internalized practices, can happen with a sense of more natural grace than if they are introduced without having established the bond that comes of openly sharing relevant stories.
Mindfulness is simply the practice of paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgement. Mindfulness meditation is a period devoted to specifically and intentionally practicing mindfulness, not so that mindfulness is perfected but so a mindful approach can become part of everyday life situations. With clients who are open to this concept, each session usually begins with a 5-10 minute meditation period in order to, in stillness, attend to the present moment with the body, mind, and heart. Often, this introductory period of attunement presents meaningful content to be processed during the session.
Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM)
(Evolved from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR))
CRM offers a way to reprocess traumatic memory so that the memory is integrated and future sensory experiences do not
re-traumatize an individual. This model bridges the most primitive part of the brain that experiences "fight or flight" with the cognitive processing and linguistic parts of the brain in order to process the trauma and integrate the experience for the individual who experienced it. CRM uses less talk than traditional therapeutic approaches, and focuses on situating a traumatic experience as so it can be viewed differently than in the past. Ideally, the trauma(s) would be viewed as one event in life instead of the only event in life that lives at the forefront of every exchange and interaction.
CRM accomplishes integration, with the help of trained practitioners who approach a person with the intent on discovering and employing multiple layers of processing in order to reach the inner core of an individual. Simultaneously, the professional recognizes the emotional context from which they operate and works to ensure this situational context does not interfere with the client processing of a trauma. The final outcome of this layered approach is a memory that can be tolerated and considered from a different physical, emotional, spiritual, and biological orientation instead of a memory that is repeatedly traumatizing and increasingly restrictive in nature.
The CRM was developed by Lisa Schwarz, licensed psychologist, over a period of 10 years. CRM addresses the symptoms of PTSD, severe dissociative disorders, and attachment disorders and provides a general framework for numerous other types of psychiatric diagnoses. The program can be adapted for ages four through adult and for individuals and couples.