I had the opportunity to write about the work of EMDR and Mindfulness for Keys To Recovery Newspaper, a free newspaper that has a good circulation throughout the recovery community and at conferences. I am enjoying both reporting on what is happening at Refuge Recovery Centers and writing through what I see as happening next. Now that the book EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care is out, I feel more able to give context to the work we are doing to try to redefine therapy and redefine treatment.
Jamie and I were texting the other night, and we were both feeling grateful and elated. At one point she wrote, "WE WROTE A BOOK!" and I laughed at the child-like excitement we share about the launch of this particular volume. Both of us are so passionate about everything in the title and everything in these pages. The whole process of deciding to write it, outlining it together at my home office in LA, writing diligently before knowing if we had a publisher, signing with Springer, receiving the wonderful endorsements, finishing the book through all its edits... all of it seemed organic and clear. And now here we are, able to share our passion with people.
The writing of EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care coincided with the growth and further implementation of the MET(T)A Method and MET(T)A Protocol at Refuge Recovery Centers. Jamie and I feel like we are on the cusp of a new phase of treatment, a new era of increased ability to treat trauma... in our private practice offices, in our agencies, in our communities.
Dharma practice changed my life almost 30 years ago. Before sitting down to write this post (actually, I wrote morning pages in the tradition of The Artist's Way and some in my daily planner before these words), I sat meditation for 30 minutes. It is still dark outside this morning. In the quiet, I can sense the pulse of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, I can feel the energy building within me in preparation for a day of EMDR therapy and consultation, mindfully delivered in the interest of easing some suffering. This integration of Buddhist practice and EMDR therapy feels just like breathing to me, and my hope is that this level of ease and flow will translate and resonate for those who read our book.
May all beings be free and peaceful...
I made a return to The Trauma Therapist Podcast, this time together with my coauthor Jamie Marich to discuss our new book EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care which comes out Tuesday, November 28! This podcast is such an amazing resource for new trauma therapists, and for those who have practiced for awhile. Guy asks all the right questions to help demystify the world of therapy and trauma therapy in particular. Guy was really moved by our effort to change the way treatment is delivered. Doing the podcast in tandem with Jamie this time made it that much more fun and engaging. You can check out previous episodes featuring me and Jamie here... and definitely subscribe if you want support for your practice!
Springer Publications, the publisher of EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care, the new book I coauthored with Jamie Marich, asked me to blog about my personal journey that led me to this place, personally and professionally. I am so happy and honored to have an EMDR book in this catalogue that includes so many important books on EMDR therapy. And I am so grateful that Jamie and I followed through on this book which in many ways is a culmination of all that I have worked toward ever since I sobered up back in 1989...
You can read my guest post on the Springer Blog here.
My colleague and co-author Jamie Marich does a monthly free teleconference where she interviews those who might be helpful to others in the field. Most recently it was Jamie and I talking about our new book EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care. I always look forward to this and other opportunities to tag team with Jamie on the project of transforming suffering for those that we can with mindfulness and EMDR therapy, I address the Buddhist aspects of our work, and we both get an opportunity to practice during the interview... the "elevator music glitch" that happens about halfway through the recording. It was a problem with the interface and we had no control over it. The playback is only 55 minutes. In another glitch they tacked on another hour plus of elevator music!
Muzak aside, it was a great beginning to what will be an ongoing dialogue between me and Jamie... it started with writing the book, and now it expands as we bring it out into the world...
Click to download the interview.
When Jamie Marich and I started talking about writing EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma-Focused Care, we were surprised in advance that something on this subject hadn't already been written. At the same time, I have felt a strong kinship with Jamie based on our common interests that, while not out of the mainstream of clinical work, are still thought of by some as outside the box. So in some ways, I can't think of anyone who could have written this particular book. Both of us have, on our own journeys, found that the integration of these systems is not only natural, but already organically true and simply in need of a book length description and some guidance as to how to use them together.
This little film that Jamie made really captures our relationship and the origins and construction of the book... always in good humor, always with an earnest desire to find new ways to be helpful, always on a path of mindfulness that is not just a couple of handy techniques, but a full bodied system of healing that includes wisdom, ethics and meditation practices. I still remember our first conversations about it, and I remember starting the writing process before we had any interest from a publisher. We just knew we had to write the book. How exciting to see it come to fruition...
The debut of the day long version of the MET(T)A Method workshop was a success and gives me a lot of hope for the future of agency treatment... over 40 EMDR trained clinicians came to hear about what we are doing at Refuge Recovery Centers with EMDR therapy as the primary clinical practice and Buddhist mindfulness as the theoretical orientation and driving force of treatment. Rajani and Kimbo with the SF Bay Area EMDR Regional Network did an amazing job of finding their new location at the College of San Mateo which was a room with a view, and setting up and putting out there to the community the possible value of this workshop.
There is still much more work to be done on the MET(T)A Method including a video series of case studies of both clinicians and clients, and a fleshing out of the experiential aspects of the workshop, but the feedback was primarily positive and I believe there is a thirst for more of this kind of material. As the addictions world struggles to stay on an ethical path, and as the trauma world seeks to find ways to fold trauma treatment successfully into addiction treatment, it seems that this method grounded in Mindfulness and EMDR therapy provides an ethical compass and a path to liberation that may provide an end or transformation of suffering to many. As we get closer to the release of the book EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care, the resources for therapists and other professionals is growing, and the desire for integrative treatment that brings long term recovery is possibly more available.
It took me a minute, but here are a few words about the wonderful half day retreat I led at The Vajra on Tenth in Seattle at the end of August after the EMDRIA Conference. I say wonderful not to give myself a pat on the back, but because 25 practitioners stayed indoors on what might have been one of the last sunny days of a Pacific Northwest summer to sit, walk, listen and look within.
We focused together on the Dharma of Adverse Life Events, borrowing from the language of trauma therapy to describe all of those below-the-threshold of trauma instances and beliefs in our lives that can drive us to unskillful intention and action. A different option proposed on our retreat was to deeply investigate the nature of these events and beliefs and see their emptiness, allowing us to utilize that wisdom to set new intentions for our thinking, our speech, our day to day lives. "Right now it's like this" becomes the mantra, and from that acknowledgement, new potential unfolds.
Rachel and the rest of the sangha are doing a superb job of building a dharma community for their area. Many of the ATS teachers are coming through town, and there is a great energy and excitement about practice. I look forward to getting back up there sooner than later to spend more time with my Seattle spiritual friends...
I have a new talk up on the Against the Stream podcast. I took the opportunity to look at all the opportunities we have for Dharma practice. Dipa Ma, a wonderful teacher from the Insight lineage, instructed that there is not one moment where practice is not possible. I am doing blog writing practice right now. I just concluded my listening to the Erev Rosh Hashanah service from ourjewishcommunity.org practice. I will soon move into my getting my daughter ready for school practice. In the midst of it all, I will do my formal sitting practice.
Mindfulness and concentration are engaged through setting of intention and then effort. Over and over again, we can reset that intention, and from a wise place, know what effort is called for at this moment. In these turbulent times, our effort to cultivate mindfulness and the lovingkindness and compassion that it engenders seems less like a choice and more like an absolute necessity. In that spirit, I set my intention this morning. And now, breakfast practice...
MET(T)A Method training for Orange County Therapists: The County Series on Topics in Spirituality and Therapy
I had the opportunity to present the MET(T)A Method to a group of over 80 therapists who work for Orange County. I was presenting at the invitation of the Therapy and Spirituality Committee that allows the County to invite a variety of speakers on subjects related to spiritual interventions. I was told that I was the first Buddhist, as well as the first mindfulness based presentation of the series.
My observation continues to be that there is quite the hunger, quite the thirst for this information. I mean this to include Buddhist based interventions like Refuge Recovery and the MET(T)A Method, and an integration with EMDR therapy with a focus on trauma resolution. My hope is that not only will people find their way to utilizing these modalities in their office, but also through MET(T)A will find ways to reimagine treatment centers and improve the delivery of services.
Some of the comments after the training reaffirmed my deep desire to find a way to bring MET(T)A Method to underserved communities. It may be that this type of structured approach could end up providing the best trauma treatment at a reduced cost and with an added benefit of having a long range plan for aftercare that is not just trauma informed, but trauma resolution focused. More and more theoreticians and practitioners are calling for this, and so why wait another minute?
I am looking forward to more opportunities to be of any assistance I can be to the therapists of Orange County, and my hope is to meet them again sooner than later.
Josh and I have known each other a very long time... we have seen each other go through a number of iterations, and we have had many touchstone moments... playing as a rhythm section, our entries into recovery, officiating at his wedding 16 years ago, our individual journeys into the Dharma. I am liking this now yearly co-teaching at Dharma Punx NYC, so much so that maybe we will make it even more often... this time we address trauma from the Dharma perspective... I am loving that both our books are coming out in the same month, November 2017... his first book entitled Unsubscribe that I am in the middle of reading and loving it, and then my book with Jamie Marich, EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care... our long and winding road together continues...
I have been truly having a ball talking with other professionals, magazines, and random strangers about only my favorite topics... I love talking about sobriety, Buddhist psychology in all its manifestations, Refuge Recovery, EMDR therapy and trauma therapy in general, and the interconnectedness of all of it. Tom Valentino wanted to hear about all of it, particularly the connections between the 8 Fold Path and recovery. He went to my good friend and coauthor Jamie Marich as well, and to Kevin Griffin to round out his exploration of Buddhism and recovery. I appreciate the thoroughness of his article.
Last year I had the opportunity to speak for the first time about the MET(T)A Method at the 2016 EMDRIA Conference, and now that presentation is available as an EMDRIA credit and NBCC CE bearing online course! Mindfulness and the 8 Phase Protocol as a Template for Addictions Treatment has now been presented online and live in Minneapolis and again live at EMDR Canada... and now can be downloaded for $45 (which includes the 1.5 EMDRIA credits and 1.5 NBCC CEs) as part of the EMDRIA On Demand program... as we head toward the publication of EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care, and head to the East Coast for EMDR and Mindfulness workshops, there is a lot of excitement around here as this important information becomes more available...
Click through to learn more about the EMDRIA on Demand offering of Mindfulness and the 8 Phase Protocol as a Template for Addictions Treatment
I gave several short interviews for the people at Wise Heroes who are curious about the ins and outs of entrepreneurial ventures and the people who are in them... they were able to see how my book Clinical Dharma actually addressed some of the issues of business owners and other leaders, those who are trying to help others in that way... and so they will be releasing them over time. The first one addresses my own history of burn out that led me to focus on that in my work and in book form....
My goal was to write this post before my trip to Canada, so I am going to say that I made my deadline as I am still in US territory as I fly toward Calgary... there has been more progress in the use of the MET(T)A Method at Refuge Recovery Centers, and the list of those clinicians and treatment centers who are interested in the model continues to grow. The initial response to my new book (coauthored by Jamie Marich) has made it more clear that this is the right direction to take EMDR therapy on its own, but also emboldens our efforts at the Center to provide an improved addiction treatment experience to clients, as well as to staff.
When I present on Sunday, I will be highlighting some of the case examples from Refuge, and not just case examples of clients but also examples of the effect on therapists who are trained in this therapy and who work on a team using this method. So far I have not had any pushback or lost any clinicians due to our using this method of treatment. In fact, as we have accessed so far trainees from Antioch and USC, with other colleges to follow including Pepperdine and Pacific Oaks, potential trainees are seeking us out because they hear what we are doing. Some are aware only of the Buddhist mindfulness aspect, others only of the EMDR therapy aspect, and others of the whole of the method. New cover letters and resumes of those who want to train with us come in every week. Those trainees who have signed on and worked with us have either learned and implemented new skills or deepened already developed skill sets. For instance, one of our therapists was a very experienced yoga teacher who had some mindfulness background related to yoga practice, and now has a dedicated Buddhist mindfulness practice and an ability to share that with clients. She also has become a very effective EMDR therapist, drawing on trauma education in school, and then ongoing training, consultation and supervision at Refuge.
And then there is the team aspect. The clinical team works very closely together using the language of EMDR therapy and trauma treatment as it relates to addictions. We come from the premise that all clients are receiving Phases One and Two of EMDR for certain, and we talk about how to support the client's continued trauma recovery journey. So far what we have noticed as a team is that this common language and set of goals makes us much more effective. One signpost of possible effectiveness is that a vast majority of our clients ask to stay longer in treatment than they originally signed on for. Therefore, they might have increased time in a contained and supportive environment to get to and through some of their trauma work while still in treatment.
I am looking forward to sharing this all with the conference attendees. And yes, I am looking forward to driving through a national park to get to the conference center in Banff...
We are starting our descent... I will have more to say from the conference and after the conference... Until then...
"Thorough and skillful. This unique wedding of EMDR, mindfulness, and trauma care offers rich practical wisdom that is truly helpful for clinicians and counselors."
- Trudy Goodman PhD, and Jack Kornfield PhD
When Jamie and I started writing the book, we were committed to creating not just a list of exercises, or a quick scan of the role of mindfulness in trauma care, but rather what amounted to a combination of a manifesto, a guidebook, a deep inquiry into the mindful elements of EMDR therapy, and a reinvigorating of the standard 8 Phase Protocol of EMDR through a mindful retelling in the community of practitioners. Our feeling continued throughout our writing and remains that this work may help many to find their way into and through EMDR therapy, and that many therapists will be inspired to provide the therapy with this integrated approach.
So far those who have review copies of the book include EMDR therapists, EMDR theoreticians, trauma therapists and theoreticians, doctors, yoga teachers, somatic experiencing practitioners, dharma teachers and mindfulness instructors. So far, it seems the book is resonating across these communities. If that continues to be the case, Jamie and I cannot help but be grateful for all those experiences and training that helped us to reach this point. As always, the hope is that the truth of suffering is met with the second, third and fourth truth of the identification of the cause, the cure and the prescription. Mindfully applied EMDR therapy and mindfulness based stabilization and preparation seem to hold a key.
At the end of Clinical Dharma: A Path for Healers and Helpers, I write about the journey I have taken recently with Dr. Jamie Marich, where we have walked steadily, quickly and resolutely toward the complete integration of Buddhist psychology, mindfulness and EMDR therapy. That journey is anything but complete, but it now has its own guidebook. EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care is everything Jamie and I wanted it to be... a review of mindfulness including the history and specifics of the Buddha's approach, a succinct description of and a deep commitment to the Adaptive Information Processing Model (AIP) and the original 8 phase protocol of Francine Shapiro's formulation of EMDR therapy, a manifesto declaring how critical this integration of EMDR and mindfulness is for our times, and a handbook and guidebook for those clinicians seeking to develop their own mindfulness practice and that of their clients in the service of relieving their suffering through mindfully applied EMDR therapy. To say I am excited about this book is a drastic understatement.
It was less than two years ago that I had the brainstorm that I should look into rekindling and deepening my relationship with Jamie, and to seek her counsel and ask for the opportunity to possibly join the faculty of her Institute for Creative Mindfulness as an EMDR Trainer. As luck would have it, she was thinking similar thoughts. This all coincided with my belief that if we trained all our clinicians at Refuge Recovery Centers in EMDR therapy, that we would provide the best possible care, by taking trauma informed one step further and becoming trauma focused. That very quickly grew into the MET(T)A Method, and here we are now. The MET(T)A Method is in full swing at Refuge Recovery Centers, some other centers are looking at what we are doing, we have become the subject of a USC research study, and now our book EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care brings our thinking and methods out to the general clinical public.
I will continue to reflect upon this book and the journey it creates on my blog here, as well as on podcasts, at live events and any other opportunities I have to connect... May all be beings be at ease...
It has been about a year now since Noah Levine and Refuge Recovery Centers gave me the go ahead to begin implementing my vision for a new approach to addictions treatment, now known as the MET(T)A Method. My thought was that with our having already established Buddhist Mindfulness as the base and foundation of the program, that integrating EMDR Therapy as the front line clinical intervention would be a natural fit. At that time I also started working on my upcoming co-authored book with Dr. Jamie Marich on EMDR and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care, within which are many of the principles, theoretical underpinnings and practical activities embedded in the MET(T)A Method. Finally, through both meditative consideration and practice in the field, I noticed that a significant aspect of the method should be that we look at the work of the agency as a whole using the 8 Phase Protocol and Adaptive Information Processing Model (AIP) of EMDR therapy as the way to vision, frame, evaluate, plan and deliver treatment. I had the opportunity to present these ideas and some of what has been gleaned from our experience at the 2016 EMDRIA Conference in Minneapolis. Having had the opportunity to present again at the 2017 Evolution of Addiction Conference, and having been asked to do the same at the 2017 EMDR Canada Conference in Banff this April, I now have the opportunity to provide some updates as the model and method have progressed.
At Refuge Recovery Centers, we have since doubled the number of trained EMDR therapists on staff to 10 (11 if you include myself), and that includes our founder Noah Levine. Our staff psychiatrist had to postpone his Part 2 training for scheduling reasons, but the hope is that he will find his way into a Part 2 training and join the fully trained team. Our supervision meetings are now running fully through the prism of the 8 phase protocol and the AIP model, with cases being discussed from the point of view of where the client is in the 8 phases, what resourcing work is being done, whether they are ready for transition into reprocessing, and discharge planning that takes all of this information into account. Addiction specific protocols are discussed and utilized as necessary, as are interventions specific to the variety of comorbid Complex PTSD issues we see at the center, but our main focus is this focus on the possibility of trauma resolution as part of the treatment - regardless of whether it happens at the center, at a lower level of later care, or upon discharge. By acknowledging that not all clients can be prepared and stabilized to that level where reprocessing can begin, but that all clients can go through a profound building of resilience and become familiar with the language and practice of EMDR therapy, we become able to provide trauma focused care while being distinctly not cookie cutter.
The mindfulness that the clients are practicing is that described by the historical Buddha delivered through the Refuge Recovery program, where the 4 Noble Truths and the 8 fold path are distilled into an addictions treatment modality. These practices are helping clients to move into the painful experience of their addictive minds and habits and build distress tolerance while also finding ways to cultivate positive states such as loving kindness and self compassion. Supported by Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, Trauma Informed Yoga, Attachment Theory Psychoeducation, and other trauma informed and trauma focused modalities, Buddhist psychology has proven to be a powerful central organizing methodology for addiction treatment. When paired with EMDR therapy, it seems we have a new level of possibility of ending the cycle of addiction. We do this by ending the cycle of untreated trauma while treating the addiction, at the speed that the client is able to tolerate. There is a great deal of hope being generated by this approach, and a lessening of suffering that is profound.
In my next blog post, I will share some of what our clinicians are saying about our work, as well as some of what our clients have to say. Until then...
I have had two wonderful opportunities thus far at the conference level (EMDRIA 2016 and The Evolution of Addiction Conference 2017) to present the MET(T)A Method, the integration of Buddhist Mindfulness and EMDR into an addiction treatment setting. My next conference appearance currently scheduled will be EMDR Canada, taking place this year in Banff. I will present on the final afternoon, Sunday, April 23 at 130pm. I am so excited for this opportunity to continue to share that which has become my passion, utilizing the 8 Phase Protocol and the Adaptive Information Processing Model of EMDR therapy as a design for addiction agency treatment. As I continue to train more therapists in the model, and as those therapists (and I) work on case studies and other qualitative research, my hope and excitement grows for the possibility of trauma resolution for those that suffer from addiction. In the same spirit of reflection and action that I applied in preparation for EMDRIA 2016 back in August, I will be blogging regarding my thinking about this work, the growing anecdotal reports and case study evidence, the progress on generating quantitative research, and any other thoughts and actions that grow from considering this upcoming presentation...