Monday, August 29, 2011

The Many Wonders of the Brain: A Book Review of Sorts

Certified Practitioner, Rapid Resolution Therapy

Someone contacted me recently asking for help with a family member who had been suffering extreme depression during the past six months. She explained that this woman had seen a number of therapists, had been hospitalized after trying to commit suicide, and was presently living with round-the-clock supervision, since she was unable to adequately take care of daily tasks. The woman who contacted me lives in another state, and she heard my work from another person (a "six degrees of separation" type of thing!). She said she was willing to try anything, but she was skeptical that Rapid Resolution Therapy would help. This is common for most people, so I didn't think much of it. But what struck me most was how "in the dark" people are about mental health.

Having recently finished Norman Doidges's The Brain that Changes Itself, I see that there is no longer any question of the brain's adaptation to experience, both rewarding and challenging. Study upon study, as demonstrated in the chapters of the book, show very clearly how the brain rewires and adapts to the experiences the individual encounters. From retraining the brain to acquiring movement after a stroke to reorganizing the brain so that blind people learn to see and autistic children can learn to speak and interact*, the book is, without a doubt, required reading for anyone interested in the mind. I particularly liked the part about how imagining lifting weights strengthens the muscles of the arms almost as much as actually lifting the weights!

RRT works precisely because of its ability to reorganize the mind. As repeated over and over again in neuroplasticity lingo, "neurons that fire together, wire together." By looking at things in a different way, we automatically draw our minds toward that and, in doing so, automatically rewire our brains. An alcoholic thinks about the joys of alcohol all the time, so his/her brain is wired in that way. Reorganizing the mind to no longer focus on alcohol, for instance, we are rewiring the brain. A corollary to the above statement is that "neurons that fire apart wire apart." So when we get the client's brain to no longer find alcohol appealing, we are changing the map of the brain and changing how the neurons interact with each other.

The book is readable, interesting and highly entertaining. Whatever opinions I may have of it don't nearly do justice to the actual studies that are cited or to the conclusions that are drawn. My only disappointment is that nowhere does the author refer to Jon Connelly or to Rapid Resolution Therapy. I'll have to email him about that...

*I worked with a young man with Aspergers, which is thought of as a high-functioning autism. He was brilliant (on his way to a prestigious law school) but lacked even the most basic of social skills. I saw him twice. His mother called two weeks later to thank me for the wonderful change she saw in her son. Whereas he rarely spoke to anyone, he was now flirting with a waitress at a restaurant; whereas he hated talking on the phone with his critical and impatient grandmother, he was recently chatting with her about his life and inquiring about his aunts and uncles and cousins. His mind and brain were now working in a useful way!

Susan Wolfson, LCSW, is a Certified Practitioner in Rapid Resolution Therapy who maintains a successful practice in Bradenton, Florida. You can reach her through her website at or follow her blog at

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Relational Animal

By Mark Childley, LMHC, CAP
Certified Practitioner, Rapid Resolution Therapy

I recently heard a wonderful teleconference with Dan Siegel, author of "The Developing Mind and Parenting from the Inside Out." Ideas from his latest, "The Mindful Therapist: A Clinician's Guide to Mindsight and Neural Integration," were the substance of the teleconference.

Siegel distinguishes mind from brain and regularly questions mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, if they ever heard a lecture in which mind was defined. The answer is usually none have, which is incredible - it would be as incredible as osteo surgeons going through years of medical school and practice, doing replacements, amputations, reconstructions, etc., without ever having heard a definition of a "joint." Siegel defines mind as an embodied, relational, emergent, self-organizing process which regulates the flow of energy and information.

In Siegel's thinking, mind is inherently relational. There's no such thing as a mind developing on its own. In fact, research by Allan Schore and others indicates if an attuned relationship is unavailable for long periods early in life, the entire right side of the brain (the embodied part of mind) won't develop - at least normally. Siegel emphasized how radical and threatening the idea of a relational mind continues to be - that our minds are not our sole possession, something ultimately of our own making, is deeply foreign to Western thinking. What is new is how profoundly dependent on relationships we are for not just psychological operations but physical development of the brain itself. That we differentiate not "from" but "with" others who love us (differentiation and dependence being different sides of the same coin, not opposite ends of a continuum). And that our mind is hardwired to go into alarm when we are cut off or in isolation, which throws a light on attachment and the injuries to it. Mind is not primary and ultimately dominant over relationships. What's happening in relationships is the primary mover that shapes our minds and sets up capacities that will affect us for the rest of our lives.

Another concept which Siegel finds important is integration. Integration he says, throughout all of nature, is the heart of health. Integration is where different parts are allowed to be themselves, and when so allowed, linkage is naturally promoted between the parts, for the greater good of the system. Whether it is a brain, another organ system of the body, a family, or a whole society, this principle of health is central. Where it is blocked, any natural system, human or otherwise, will move toward chaos or rigidity or both. He says the whole of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) can be seen as various forms of impaired integration-mind tending toward either rigidity, chaos, or both.

Siegel teaches that compassion is the action of integration. Where integration shows up, compassion is always moving organisms with regard for separateness of entities, but also the possibilities of linking up, of influencing each other for the good. He says people can be taught how to monitor the flow of energy and information in their bodies and in their relationships (mindfulness), and as these modifications progress over time toward more and more integration you get a healthier person who is having a healthier influence on those around him.

Focused attention and mindful awareness is to therapy as what a scalpel is to a surgeon and is what the therapist brings to the meeting. Focusing attention changes the mind, strengthening some neural circuits or creating new ones.

All this has helped deepen my understanding of what is going on in the connection phase of Rapid Resolution Therapy. The mind of therapist and client are relational and influence each other, and moment by moment, the opportunity this relatedness opens up is electric in all its potential. The two are both monitoring the flow of energy and information, with differing degrees of competence, and it is incumbent on the therapist to bring the scalpel of mindful awareness and focused attention to the possibilities for using that energy and, looking through a different lens, tapping into new information. When the client has a felt sense (a bodily experience) that the therapist "gets" them, that they matter and have value, a door starts to open. And if they begin to see that at least the therapist sees a model - a representation of and destination for the self that is healthy and new, and that it's possible to get there - shared energy and information shifts and flows in a whole new way. There is a linkage that occurs and new forward momentum established that, I'm convinced, strengthens some, or creates new neural pathways in the brain (my internal image of this is jumping into crystal clear mountain stream with a good buddy). It is brought about by compassion, the effective action of the integration already held by the therapist, extended to the client, in which the client joins in. The door opens a little wider, then wider still, and then blows wide open. All sorts of powerful things start happening.

Mark A. Chidley, LMHC, CAP, a fully licensed mental health counselor and certified addictions professional, offers counseling services at his office Kelly San Carlos Executive Center in Fort Myers, Florida. He received his education at The University of Iowa, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the University of South Florida. He has been in private practice since 1997. He holds certifications in Rapid Trauma Resolution (2010), Imago Relationship therapy (2001), and now specializes in the treatment of couples as well as individual trauma recovery and anxiety issues. He brings rich experience from a combined 26 years of hospital work and mental health counseling. He is married and has three children.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Level I Rapid Trauma Resolution with Clinical Hypnosis Testimonial

Dear Jon,

This is Carrie Springer writing. I had the pleasure of attending your Level I training this weekend (the grasshopper phobic). I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, both for the time you took to teach us, as well as for the amazing work you do for trauma survivors. I have been doing trauma work since I was in training and am truly passionate about helping trauma survivors find peace and happiness. I like to think I have done some very good work, but now I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am on the way to healing others in a way that is more powerful than anything I have ever done. I am more excited than I have been in a long time as a professional. More excited than ever, actually. I'm sure you hear this a lot!

I am looking forward to continuing my training. I now see my professional future in a way that brings me both peace and excitement! I know that you have many practitioners already doing pro-bono work. But still, I am sure a great need still exists. I know I have a lot of learning to do yet, but I would like to offer my willingness to provide pro-bono treatment if there is a need. I am in Valrico (the Brandon ,FL area). Please don't hesitate to call me, particularly if I can offer help to someone who might otherwise not get treatment.

I look forward to seeing you in a few weeks,


Carrie Springer, Ph.D., is a psychologist practicing in Valrico, Florida. Her areas of clinical practice include sexual trauma, women's issues, and lesbian/gay/bisexual affirming therapy. You can reach Carrie through email at or phone at 941-704-6668.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rapid Resolution Therapy Client Spotlight:

Active Duty, Reserves, Former and Retired Military Members
By Sharon Melvan-Richie, Ph.D.
Certified Practitioner, Rapid Resolution Therapy

"The return of our men and women in uniform serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will rival the scale of World War II demobilizations in some communities." This is the opening statement of the informative booklet Engaging Veterans and Families to Enhance Service Delivery. Electronic copies of this booklet and other free publications about veterans, trauma informed care, self care for providers, homelessness and organizational development are available here.

The National Center for PTSD estimates that about 30 percent of troops who served in Vietnam experienced PTSD and an additional 20 to 25 percent have had PTSD at some point in their lives. A recent Rand Corporation Study sets this number at 22 percent for those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and notes that only one-third of veterans in need of mental health care actually receive it. However, given a new VA regulation (July 2010) that allows any veteran who has served in a war zone to receive compensation for PTSD without having to prove that he/she was exposed to a triggering event, we can expect more veterans to step forward. Some veterans only want the proper diagnosis and financial compensation from the VA system. Others want a better understanding of PTSD; help for themselves, their family members and friends; and/or personal relief from nightmares, numbness, anxiety, guilt, avoidance and frozen grief.

Rapid Resolution Therapy Certified Practitioner Susan Wolfson, LCSW, recently met such a group of veterans (a local chapter of Florida Veterans for Common Sense) when they asked her to speak at their meeting. She shares her experience below:

The talk was good. There were about 40 people there, most of whom were vets, but not all. Some were interested people from the community who heard about the talk through the grapevine. They asked a lot of good questions (mostly in trying to understand how we do what we do and how it works), but they also asked a few specifics like how to reach vets who won't accept any help or intervention. Afterwards I joined them at a local restaurant. One of the vets on the group's board [of directors] asked me to call him to see how he might be able to use my services for the vets in the community. Another guy asked me to expand on a pamphlet I had made for the talk, to explain more about what I do (how, in three hours, I can eliminate emotional pain from traumatic events). . . I didn't talk so much about Rapid Resolution Therapy as I did about the psychology and neurobiology of trauma, but I guess they were more interested in the therapy. It would be great if we all had something specific for vets that we could distribute in our local communities.

Susan's pamphlet is a great start to producing an informative brochure about PTSD and TBI (see attached) that also can serve as a marketing tool for you in your local area. Thank you Susan for sharing your first draft of this brochure and making it available to our CP community!! In upcoming RRT newsletters (and on our website) we will be identifying other military/veteran venues where you can offer to provide talks and references and resources to help enhance your military competency skills.

*Article courtesy of Dr. Sharon Richie-Melvan, Ph.D., Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist. Dr. Sharon also co-authored the book, "Angel Walk: Nurses at War in Iraq and Afghanistan," with Dr. Diane Vines, Ph.D, Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist. Within the book, Dr. Sharon recommends Rapid Resolution Therapy as a PTSD treatment approach (p. 97). To purchase your copy today, please click here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Have you ever provided RRT for a Child involved in the Foster Care or Welfare System?

We are searching for certified therapists who have used Rapid Resolution Therapy to treat children of any age. We have been approached about potential partnerships to offer this therapy to children and need certified RRT therapists to speak to their experiences of using this therapy within the child welfare system, for Foster children or anyone treated under the age of 18. If you have, please contact us as soon as possible. You can reach Dr. Sharon Richie-Melvan via email at

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Life Changing Conversations" - Join our IRRT Book Team!

The Institute for Rapid Resolution Therapy wants to join forces with Certified Practitioners (CPs) across the country to produce a book of hope for the public; an accessible one that describes the world of Rapid Resolution Therapy in layman terms. Think of all of the potential RRT clients browsing the aisles in bookstores at the mall, library or airport who could pick up a book that describes someone with their same history of pain or abuse. They would not only read about their own painful story but also about the healing that takes place with RRT.

Also think about your fellow therapists around the world who are worn down by a clinical practice of unending clients who never get better. Then think of your own personal joy experiencing RRT during your training and then providing RRT the very next week at work; and getting better at it with each session. Think of your joy going to work knowing that you will make a profound difference in someone's life. With this book we can reach out to these therapists and offer them hope for a vocation that truly feeds their soul.

The stories already shared in this newsletter are perfect examples of what we need for our evolving Life Changing Conversations book. The working topics for the book include:
  1. "Changed Lives" with client stories about Sexual Abuse, Post Traumatic Stress, Veterans, Panic Disorders, Depression, Frozen Grief, and Addictions & Cravings
  2. "Changed Clinical Practices" with highlights/stories of Out-patient care provided across the country, In-Patient Care provided at places like the Beachcomber and Palm Partners, and Children & Adolescent Care such as with Molly's practice
  3. "Changed Education & Training Practices" with a general description of the courses and testimonials from Level I Basic Training, Level II Advanced Training, the Certified Practitioner's Program (with its monthly case reviews, etc.), the Master Practitioner Program and twice yearly Retreats for CPs.
Please take a moment to think about your patients and/or about your own personal/professional growth working with RRT and then send us your stories. I suspect that some of your birthday messages to Dr. Jon (like ours) spoke to your gratitude for the personal healing and professional growth that you have experienced with him. With your permission (we can do this anonymously too), we can add your story to our treasure chest. If you are not comfortable writing your story, please contact Dr. Sharon Richie-Melvan at for an interview appointment so that we can capture your RRT jewels.

*Article co
urtesy of Dr. Sharon Richie-Melvan, Ph.D., Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist. Dr. Sharon also co-authored the book, "Angel Walk: Nurses at War in Iraq and Afghanistan," with Dr. Diane Vines, Ph.D, Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist. Within the book, Dr. Sharon recommends Rapid Resolution Therapy as a PTSD treatment approach (p. 97). To purchase your copy today, please click here.