Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our Growing RRT Relationships

By Sharon Richie-Melvan, Ph.D.
Certified Practitioner, Rapid Resolution Therapy 
IRRT Research Director

Thank you to each certified practitioner (CP) who has volunteered for the IRRT Study 2 Research Project! We now have 3 new volunteers garnered from the recent Level II training held in Tampa, FL. We appreciate their help with the training AND for volunteering to participate in the study. Applications to participate in the study will be made available onsite at the Level III Retreat 1-3 June in California. I look forward to seeing you there and will be available to answer questions. We understand how busy you are and even with the greatest of intentions, we know that time flies by and you still may not have sent in your IRRT Study 2 application. No worries!! We will do whatever it takes to help you be a part of this historic study. Remember that we are laying the groundwork to provide evidenced-based research for peer reviewed journal articles; future VA & DoD research funding; television, radio and print media exposure/outreach and expanded awareness of this revolutionary treatment. This groundwork is being laid, one therapist at a time just by documenting your RRT work with the trauma clients you are seeing in your practice.

Based on our anticipated research program results and our "field tested anecdotal success" to date, we are already forming partnerships with other non-profit organizations to expand our outreach efforts and to establish reimbursement channels for certified RRT practitioners (CP) who can treat military veterans and survivors of sexual violence. CP's with 3-5 years experience with veterans are encouraged to email to be registered with their program which will pay you to see veterans and their family members anonymously and confidentially. Please note and help me to spread the word that I have a weekly online support group for female veterans, "Military Women at the Crossroads" each Tuesday evening at 8pm EST. They can sign in at with the password "crossroads". Each RRT CP is encouraged to register with "Give An Hour" to volunteer your services for a veteran. Increasingly, this registration is becoming a mandatory benchmark to reimburse therapists for the care of veterans, service members and their families. The original Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is looking for CP therapists to provide RRT on site and accompany 10-15 veterans on a 3-5 day "Odyssey Project" such as swimming with Dolphins in Key West Florida or Horseback riding in Alabama. The WWP pays for travel, hotel and food for volunteer therapists. 

Thank you to the WWP's Southeast United States coordinator Russ Dean who just completed his Level II RRT training. Russ will be sending WWP brochures for each upcoming RRT training session. Please contact him directly at if you would like to volunteer for the Odyssey Project, receive brochures or need a speaker.  We also are working with the founders of "Vets Journey Home" to provide RRT support for their weekend programs around the country. More info is forthcoming so stay tuned. Please remember that each of you can volunteer at your local rape crisis center to enhance your RRT skills and make a profound difference in someone's life.

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). 

Monday, June 25, 2012

How RRT Cleared My Client's Height Phobias

By Gayle Skovran, LCSW-RCertified Practitioner, Rapid Resolution Therapy 

Yes, yes. Amazing!

Phobias and RRT had been fairly new to me as I had only treated one patient with a phobia with only fair success and then a break in treatment.

When having an inquiry from a middle aged man for RRT to clear his height phobia, I hesitated and then remembered that I do not offer guarantees and that he called requesting treatment, which is what I do. With much support, encouragement, and some RRT "story" sharing from my fellow CP's, the results were amazing!

Robert came into my office hesitant and apprehensive. Within minutes.....we connected! He described a life filled with missed events, missed fun, and now the opportunity to retire, sell his house, and move to his wife's dream apartment on the fifteenth floor of a high-rise building, overlooking beautiful woods.

He had stayed away from windows at his work for many, many years often having to use different hallways and entry ways to get to different parts of his office. He had missed hikes in the mountains with his wife, changed vacation plans, giving up his love of adventure (low height, flat land adventure!).

Bridges had been avoided making transportation very challenging. After many stories explaining anxiety sensations and the disassembly process, Robert was amazed at his ability to calm himself!

I cleared some trauma "ghosts" (he had been held and dangled out of a window by a neighbor he was fond of) while keeping him present and imagining the beauty of the view from a local bridge.

Changing identity was so powerful for him that the whole thing was "done" in 45 minutes! How exciting! I always know when things are "done" when the patient begins to look different- sometimes as if they could be their own sister or cousin. Their face changes, affect changes, and appearance changes. Then my energy changes and I am fueled by their change!

Robert's parting comments were "Gayle, you are terrific," and "I cannot wait to go home and have that apartment where I can stand on our balcony, looking high over those beautiful trees, feeling the sun on my face."

What a charge for me! 

Gayle Skovron, LCSW-R, has been in practice for over 20 years working with all ages including young children. A graduate of Fordham University, Gayle is trained and certified in several modalities of psychotherapy including Rapid Resolution Therapy. RRT has had an incredible impact on her life both professionally and personally. Gayle has offices in both New York and Connecticut and can be reached by email at or by phone at 914-450-2413. For more information please visit

Thursday, June 21, 2012

To The End of Therapist Burn Out!

By Tara Dickherber, M.Ed, LPCCertified Practitioner, Rapid Resolution Therapy 
Executive Director, Institute for Survivors of Sexual Violence

It recently dawned on me how drastically lowered my stress level and burn out levels have been since becoming Certified in Rapid Resolution Therapy. I have been training and practicing RRT for approximately four years. Sprinkle in a session or two with Dr. Connelly to keep myself cleared and updated and now what we have is a counselor in private practice with no burn out and very little stress!

In fact I've been busier lately, which is great, but my clients recently have been a tad more challenging. Prior to private practice, I spent more than 10 years working with chronically mentally ill clients in which many nights I would be up worrying about them. My mind would spin off working different scenarios of how to help them, how to "get them well;" many times my mind was racing through various worst-case scenarios as well. I spent many a night with insomnia. Then I opened my private practice because that had always been a dream of mine and because I was sure that working for myself would end the burn out and stress.

Boy was I wrong, at least back then. When I initially opened my practice you could say I was a "Client Centered Focused" therapist. Guess what happened? I was up night after night worrying, concerned if I had the abilities to help my clients, and sometimes even traumatized by hearing the traumas they had survived.

Now I excitedly work with clients whom I would have been terrified to work with before; Veterans of various wars, survivors of horrific sexual violence, and clients who have been on disability for chronic panic attacks. I have even worked with someone convicted of murder. At the end of my day I return home feeling energized, excited, and grateful for the fact that these clients were willing to try something new and different, and grateful for the training and experience I have had with Rapid Resolution Therapy.

***Join us this August in Georgia for the Heal The Healer Retreat, specifically designed with Rapid Resolution Therapists in mind! Click here for more information about this transformative workshop.

Be well, Be happy - Tara

Tara S. Dickherber, M.Ed, LPC
1360 S 5th St., Suite 394, St. Charles, MO 63301

Monday, June 18, 2012

Guest RRT Blogger Mark Chidley: Guerilla Connection

There is a famous story that Milton Erickson used to tell about the studies of Margaret Mead, Jane Belo, and Gregory Bateson when they went to Bali in the 1930′s. They found the Balinese people can go into a deep trance at a blink and in fact can do things like go to the market, accomplish their shopping, even visit a neighbor–all while in a trance. Autohypnosis is part of their daily life. The three famous researchers actually brought back movies of this occurring for Erickson to examine. Of course it didn’t surprise him; he recognized this is not a culturally specific phenomenon, but pointed out that for all peoples, trance is a rather ordinary everyday experience (My Voice Will Go With You: The Teaching Tales of Milton Erickson, edited and commentary by Sidney Rosen, p.74). Erickson himself was legendary for recognizing hypnotherapeutic opportunities and making lightning-fast use of them.

Rapid Resolution therapists are keenly interested in making rapid connections with our clients and making best use of these naturally occurring states.  We could, in the best sense of the term, call this Guerilla Connection. We want the world to drop away for the client, to grab their complete attention, and to create a special kind of joining experience, because it sets up a profound receptivity to our healing interventions. There are subtle changes that indicate a client’s “response attentiveness.” They will vary a bit from person to person but could include a flattening of facial expressions, staring, absence of blinking, and almost complete immobility.

This can be created in multiple ways: as we demonstrate interest and understanding in their situation; as we use appropriate humor and become interesting, even intriguing, to the client; as we provide uplift, separating identity from illness language and using tense changes to locate trouble in the past; as we use voice to create pauses, tonal emphases, or duplicate word choice, rate and volume of speech; as we use our own body to mirror posture and rate of breathing; as we listen to stories from their personal lives and catch certain signs of trance, particularly rich, sensory-laden words that are anchoring an experience that is pivotal for them. I’m remembering one lady who started telling me about being able to smell her deceased mother’s perfume sometimes. In retrospect, I missed that one.  I only needed to tell her “That’s it. Stay with that” and she would have slipped into an immediate connection, a connection she had previously been blocked from.

A person’s language can tell a lot about their preferred channel for forming connection. Someone sharing with you something from “the way they see it” or from their “point of view” is likely to favor visual input. But not everyone is visual or adept at creating images in their mind’s eye.  Another person may emphasize the verbs “hear” or “say” in their reports of experience, or what something “sounded like” to them; they may automatically assume they must recite large fragments of conversation for you to get what they experienced. Such a person favors auditory input. And, of course, others will “lean toward” being “in touch with” something,  or the “feel” of an experience. They will even demonstrate with their bodies through shudders, shrugs, and shifts of posture whether they were “comfortable” or not with something. These are the kinesthetic folk.

Of course, Guerilla Connection works both ways. The other day as I was checking out of a restaurant and paying for the meal at the counter, a sudden sneeze came on me. One of those that tickle for a while and work its way up, that you try your hardest not to have. As my hand went up instinctively to protect others from the spray I thought sure was coming, the cashier mirrored my hand and raised hers suddenly to her own nose while her eyes riveted me. The raising of the hand to cover the mouth and nose is a universal gesture that she recognized and used to join me. While shaking her head “No” she ordered me to say “Watermelon, Watermelon, Watermelon” three times!  I looked at her in amazement because it sounded urgent and ridiculous, like the words “Ab-ra Ca-da-bra” before the climactic moment of a magic trick. I obeyed like a schoolboy and said the magic word “Watermelon” three times. And you know what, it worked! Not only no sneeze, but the tickle completely vanished. In about 2.5 seconds she had created a “purposeful communication utilizing connection, credibility, and effective language to get the desired response from the subconscious.” She had done a Guerilla Connection on me and performed a mini piece of good-samaritan therapy.

I’m just amazed by language and all the other ways we communicate and how, as a species, we connect in the everyday to help each other. As you sit down with someone, or even as they walk into your office, keep all channels open and you may find a way to do a Guerilla Connection and make something very powerful happen fast.

Mark A. Chidley, LMHC, Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, 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 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.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rapid Resolution Therapists Who See Children

Guess what?! Rapid Resolution Therapy is effective for children too! And our RRT community is blessed with many Certified Practitioners that work with children in many different settings. Unfortunately some children are also survivors of sexual violence, childhood abuse, etc. Their minds will also have emotional, and behavioral responses to those traumas that isn't helpful to them. Children are no less haunted by the things they have survived than adults are.

In my private practice I do not work with children; the age range I work with is high school and up. However, I'm always amazed at how quickly and excitedly the teens respond to RRT. I suspect part of it is they come in with some natural curiosity and another part is very few of them have been to counseling where it wasn't helpful. But the fact remains that they get it fast, and their minds update fast!

So this week I want to give a shout out to all our Certified Practitioners who do use RRT with the children they see (this list may not include everyone and is in no particular order but it's a start!)

Be well, Be happy - Tara

Tara S. Dickherber, M.Ed, LPC
1360 S 5th St., Suite 394, St. Charles, MO 63301

RRT Certified Practitioners Who See Children:

Molly Sanford, LCSW
Bridgewater Professional Park
4929 Van Dyke Rd., Lutz, Florida 33558

Jennifer Stinson, LMSW
Child & Adolescent Therapist
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Karen Q. Grannis, LPC
Mental Health Therapist, Success for All Students
Office: 678-331-8131 / Cell: 678-756-6509
(Se habla Espanol)

Jaime Armstrong, LMHC, CHT
Life Improvement Therapy
735 Arlington Ave North, Suite 301, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Gayle Skovron, LCSW-R
239 North Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591

Maureen T. Harper, LMHC
4400 Marsh Landing Blvd. Suite 6, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082

Kelly Plouffe, LMFT
KSP Counseling, Inc.
New Port Richey, FL

Erin Grupp, LCSW, CAP
4100 W. Kennedy Blvd. Suite 327, Tampa, FL 33609

Erin Grupp, LCSW, CAP
1501 Belcher Rd. Suite B4, Largo, FL 33771

Patricka (Patty) Caldera, MSW, LCSW
1360 S 5th St, Suite 398, St Charles, MO 63301

Angela M. Torp, M. A., LPC-S, CART, LBSW, RRT
Torp Counseling
600 Lake Air Dr. #24A, Waco, TX 76710

Deb Middleton, LCSW ACSW
Lifesong for Growth and Wellness, LLC
3405 W. Truman, Ste. 101, Jefferson City, MO 65109

Josephine B. Burleson, Ma, LPC, RPT (Registered Play Therapist)
3212 Collinsworth, Suite 1, Fort Worth, TX 76107

Monday, June 11, 2012

Guest Blogger Mark Chidley: Demonstrating Interest and Demonstrating Understanding!

Demonstrating Interest and Demonstrating Understanding!
By Mark Chidley, LMHC, Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist

Demonstrating interest and demonstrating understanding are at the heart of creating a connection and form the first two steps of an RRT session. Iʼll start with some of the preliminary considerations and realities that form a foundation for the two steps.
From the first you want to watch your participant. From the moment they sit across from you, be on the lookout for what is going on for them. Are there tears forming behind their eyes, a stiffness or flatness in their face or voice tone; how far away do they sit and how far back into their chair do they recline? We are all trained to notice these features, but unlike other therapies, in RRT we do not comment on body language or anything that would increase self-consciousness and hurt the connection. Just take in the information silently. I think of this as my first baseline, to measure what effect Iʼm having as I go along.

The question that starts the session is some version of: “Iʼm interested in what you would like our meeting to attend to or accomplish?”

If the participant has come in because itʼs somebodyʼs elseʼs idea or has read or heard that they must have some kind of feeling, problem, or issue, Jon will slow the session right here and probe for the participantʼs actual experience, their own hopes, goals, etc. We donʼt necessarily follow what other therapists might see as a next treatment step and participants may come in with preconceived, erroneous ideas about treatment. Or they may have no definite idea whatsoever of why they are there or what they want to accomplish. In any case, Jon conveys greater respect by giving room for the person to see if there has been something that has been affecting mind and allow room to try to articulate it for themselves. He is not necessarily constrained to follow what the participant then says, but the participant will surely get the message that Jon is interested in his or her unique experience as a person. And them getting the experience of being cared for like that right now in the session what weʼre after.

In the first few moments, combining what you see and notice with what they say, you form a target in your mind for how you want them to leave the session. Forming a target early matters because we donʼt want to swing wildly or mindlessly in just any direction with our words any more than a sculptor would swing at the rock with his hammer without first forming an image of what he desired. Instead, we want all our words to be causing the effect we have in mind and moving the person toward a better state of health. We stand a lot better chance of getting there with a target in mind. We keep our target open to refinement as more information pours in. Our words are like a sculptorʼs choice of type of hammer or chisel size. We should always be able to answer the question, “Why did I just ask or say that--what was the effect I had in mind?”

At times the participant may not have to even speak very much or have any clear notion of a goal for you to form your target. Jon has reminded us anyone who grew up in this culture has likely been affected by moralism. Almost everyone you see is still being affected by past events that are still casting a shadow Others by some form of stuckness--thinking from negation, disappearing present, introspection, identity as pathology, etc. It is worth clearing any of these. Jon will listen for forms of stuckness and/or unworkable targets the participant has chosen (e.g., having more “self-esteem” or chasing“self-confidence”) and usually steers them toward a better target he has in mind. Targets may line up in a natural order. For instance, you may focus on clearing drug cravings in one session with a participant in recovery and attend to busting ghosts from their past abuse in a subsequent session. Which target to choose? In general, itʼs the one most salient or relevant to the participantʼs immediate well-being, but, again, we donʼt have to assume they will have it clearly in their mind. Thatʼs our responsibility.

As the participant answers our opening question, we start to demonstrate interest. An appropriate response that does this is “I want to understand”, said with a pause and as an invitation. This usually fits well because almost no one can say in a sentence or two all of what has been bothering them. It invites the person to go on and add what could be crucial information. It also demonstrates your sincere interest. Jon will even go so far as to state he doesnʼt want to try to understand someone else through the lens of his own life experience, but thinks a better place to start is to listen to how they put it. I have always found participants appreciative of this. Other “legal” questions such as “What have I missed?” and “What else should I know to assist you with this?” serve this purpose as well.

We do not ask questions out of clinical curiosity or just to fill out a biopsychosocial history. The participant experiences this as leaving what they just told you and asking about stuff that is of more interest to you. You may ask for a little background info youʼll find relevant to getting an accurate picture of the personʼs situation which will enhance your target, but this is usually kept to a bare minimum--only that which further clarifies the target. A couple well placed questions about work, school, or current endeavors will round out your picture and tell you about their strengths. If the participant tells of hard experiences already lived through, these likewise provide a potential gold mine for feeding back strengths or utilizing later in some of our interventions. For instance, a time of accomplishment or productivity can be used as a platform from which to have the participant stand and look back on a younger, struggling self. It is a worse outcome to stumble ahead with the wrong picture or with the client sitting in silent doubt about our “getting them”, so if you need more info, go ahead and err on the side of asking for it.

When we go to demonstrate understanding, our words must do the following:
a. avoid disagreement and, ideally, hit the heart of the matter b. must not be poisonous or make the participant worse c. must speak directly to the subconscious d. must match emotional tone appropriate to the subject matter e. must provide uplift
f. must move the participant along

This is a tricky list and takes a lot of practice to pull off all at once and makes our method different from almost every other form of intervention. We are balancing accuracy (a) with all the rest (b-f). For instance, (f) requires more than a simple reflection. An accurate reflection, as most counselors would do it, will not cause disagreement, but leaves the participant essentially in the same place. But if we add “and youʼre looking to move forward with this”, or something like it, the participant gets the sense of optimism and momentum at hand, and that weʼre going to get something done. Similarly, a brief, solution-focused therapist might hear a participantʼs opening statement and ask, “How will you know or what will it feel like when youʼve gotten (insert issue) working better?”The participant could give a picture of improvement or simply say “Iʼd be feeling better”, but inside be feeling let down, like they are far from better or that the counselor just missed the emotional pain and tone of their message (d).

Jon has taught us many ways to execute a-f, like the wedge, the invisible tense change, recognizing strengths, putting the positive last, etc. Stepping back, we realize there were so many ways of talking about problems that were drilled into us in our prior training that actually locate identity with pathology. We strive to avoid saying anything that puts responsibility for the problem onto the participant or puts it into their idenity by making it about them. Sometimes the negative effect of a commonly accepted phrase or word (that seems innocuous) is very subtle, and like the Trojan Horse of old, carries in the enemy--negative meanings we didnʼt intend, but which the participantʼs subconscious picks up, nonetheless. We want to do the opposite of what most of our colleagues do--we want to protect identity and provide uplift. A table of these negative phrases and alternatives to them is available in the basic manual.

The connection is either being enhanced or being damaged from the very first moments of the session. An RRT therapist is well aware of that and keeps a keen, weather eye on it at all times. We use demonstrating interest and demonstrating understanding as the first two steps to get connection underway. Keep watching your participant. At any hesitation, pause, downturn of features, holding of breath, increase of silence or return to superficial responding, donʼt be afraid to go back and clarify understandings or choose different wording, It will salvage the connection. Invite them to tweak or tune up of what you just said. Participants donʼt mind a few misses if you keep showing your respect and desire to understand.

Whether or not we step into this sacred space is actually not a choice. Participants are good hypnotists and they present life predicaments that can be as riveting as any movie in their drama and pathos. They are there because they have lost their way. We donʼt want to be the one being hypnotized, lost along with them. Get your target early and keep it in mind as you go along and keep watching your participant for the effect you are having.

At a recent Level III, Jon used three separate sessions to give us practice with this stage of the model. Everybody seems to struggle with it. Iʼve noticed my own tendency is to sometimes jump forward into the next stage of the method without first letting the participant know Iʼve heard what they took the trouble to say to me, even though I internally registered it. Iʼm learning that in these first opening moments itʼs crucial to stay very close to what the person conveyed, because the alliance is fragile and the connection is still forming. Once it is formed, all the rest flows much more easily and works to the participantʼs benefit. A strong connection is the magnet that we use to get them into the light with their mind cleared.

I finish by saying Iʼve distilled here what Iʼve heard Jon say consistently over the course of several trainings and teleconferences throughout 2011-2012. Iʼve drawn it together in the hopes it will solidify some things for my fellow RRTʼers and accelerate the learning of the newer folks as we all become more and more skilled at using this amazing method.

Mark A. Chidley, LMHC, Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, 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 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.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Guest RRT Blogger Mark Chidley: Our Weird Addictions

People have infinite ways of providing themselves comfort as an answer to emotional pain. Cutting, burning, picking or scratching the skin; pulling out hair, chewing nails down to the quick. Actually almost anything done excessively in an altered state can do the trick: shopping, spending, hoarding, exercising, sex, masturbating, gambling, and, of course, eating or restricting eating. Almost anything that can be put in the mouth, inhaled, touch the skin, or impact the nervous system in a dramatic way that releases endorphins is of great use to those suffering emotional pain. Many  modalities share the common advantages of being individually controlled, can be done in private and kept secret, pose no resistance of themselves, break no laws, and create a very efficient, alternate hedonic loop in the brain that gets the relief to where it needs to be in a hurry. An alternate route of satiety and relief that is much faster and effective than other routes. Actually, to understand how these methods alter the nervous system to relieve pain is to understand they are a rather brilliant idea.

But how can I, as a therapist, say that? Well, Jon Connelly, the creator of Rapid Resolution Therapy has reminded us that the human predicament is quite unlike any other animal’s walking the face of the earth. When a dog or a monkey has to deal with having to run or fight for its life, the brain’s emotional mechanism floods them with negative feeling and motivates them to profoundly pay attention and take action to get their situation to stop happening.  It is turned on and off quite efficiently. They are not in pain while it’s on. A rabbit running for its life is motivated, alert, and made unusually strong and fast.  It all lasts no more than seconds, at most, a couple minutes. 

The animal, if it survives, shivers a bit, shakes out its coat, and resets emotionally back to normal. It goes about nursing whatever physical wounds it has suffered matter-of-factly, without anything like emotional pain. If it is caught and its brain understands there is no chance for escape or successful counterattack, a kind of peacefulness settles over it and its mind exits the scene. There is no emotional pain there either.

But not so with us. For us, the flush of anger, grief, fear, betrayal, outrage, etc., can turn on and stay on for years. Think about the predicament of some people having to cope with the flood of something meant to meet survival challenge with all its original intensity every hour of their life. Unremitting jacked up anger, horror, terror, disgust. You get up with it, you spend your day with it, go to bed with it, and it is there in the night.  A switch that had it turned off would have been tolerable, but now stuck in the “on” position, spells excruciating pain. And then because humans can stick on meanings afterward, shame, guilt, or hate may also appear. Still another layer of pain. This guy is sitting on a bench and sees a pretty lady chatting happily with a man. He remembers his wife’s infidelity. That gal is riding on a subway and she smells a certain body odor. She remembers her rape. All you have to do is lightly push on the sore spot and even though it’s twenty years later the person is beside themselves. It no longer has anything to do with survival but the old brain doesn’t know that. It keeps sending the signal to get it to stop.
Take cutting. Imagine how sick of that pain you’d have to be to be willing to localize and control it by cutting on the tender tissues of the breasts or inner thighs or even genitals. Connelly points out that now at least you have it in one place and you know who’s doing it and how long the worst part will last.

From this perspective, it is not hard to figure how something damaging that also offers relief, containment,  and instant comfort could be recategorized by the primitive part of our mind as an old friend, a reliable one at that. But that is not how the parents who bring in their 14 year-old daughter to therapy see her cutting, or how the culture sees the 22-year old’s bulimia or the sex addict’s repeated immersions in pornography.  The culture to protect itself sees the behavior and wants us to put it outside the limits of acceptable with a label.  Instead, this attitude glues pathology onto the person’s identity even firmer as they are seen as weird, abnormal, and aberrant because people are more likely to go along with a consensual meaning instead of taking a longer look at a phenomenon for themselves.  And this is what is happening even if we give it a fancy diagnostic name.

And what if counselors buy into all this distancing and labeling? To me it’s like going up to a very lonely and desperate person and insulting them for choosing to hang with the one friend they’d found in the world. “Hey, Why do you keep hanging around with that jack**s?”, is not a question I want to lead with or imply. I want them to get that I get how much pain they’ve been in. Are there better ways to handle it? Without a doubt. But I won’t get there, won’t get a connection with that person in order to shift them into something better until they get that I get them.

It’s on me to convey that I understand how desperate they got and how frightening it would be to let go of that old friend. And that I have something better in view, like an end to the obsolete messages themselves; the start of a whole new life.

Mark A. Chidley, LMHC, Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, 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 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.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Guest RRT Blogger Courtney Armstrong: Transforming Traumatic Grief

RRT Certified Practitioner Courtney Armstrong had the privilege of being invited to share a short video on six steps to heal from grief to peace from her book "Transforming Traumatic Grief," with the Open to Hope project. Click on the video below to listen.

Courtney Armstrong, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor and nationally known speaker on trauma and grief. She is the author of Transforming Traumatic Grief: Six Steps to Move from Grief to Peace After Sudden or Violent Death of a Loved One.