EMDR Early Intervention (EEI) is crucial to people worldwide who experience trauma. In this episode, learn more about EEI, its implementation, and its successes. We talked with EMDR Certified Therapist, Consultant, and Trainer Reg Morrow Robinson, Ed.S., LMFT, LMHC, about her experiences with EMDR Early Intervention.
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- EMDRIA Practice Resources
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- EMDRIA Online Membership Communities for EMDR Therapists
Musical soundtrack, Acoustic Motivation 11290, supplied royalty-free by Pixabay.
Produced by Kim Howard, CAE.
Kim Howard 00:04
Welcome to the Let’s Talk EMDR podcast brought to sdyou by the EMDR international association or EMDRIA. I am your host Kim Howard. In this episode we are talking with EMDR, certified therapist, consultant and trainer, Reg Morrow Robinson about early intervention EMDR therapy. Reg is with Windermere Counseling in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Let’s get started. Today we are speaking with EMDR, certified therapist, consultant and trainer, Regina Morrow Robinson or read as she prefers to be called. She will talk to us today about EMDR early intervention. Thank you, Reg, for being here today. We are so happy that you said yes.
Reg Morrow Robinson 00:41
It’s a pleasure to be here and honor.
Kim Howard 00:44
So read tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming an EMDR therapist.
Reg Morrow Robinson 00:48
I began as a marriage and family therapist and I was invited to work for a large group medical practice and just couldn’t wrap my brain around why wasn’t making impact on these complicated cases from the physicians. My other supervisor kept pestering me to learn EMDR which I did with Steve Silver and [Dr.] Francine Shapiro, and later was utilizing live supervision with a co-worker or we would sit in each other’s session to help each other develop and cheer each other on and it became a lot easier. I became a consultant in 2000 and then facilitated for EMDR Hap and then Roy Kiessling invited me to become a trainer for happen while we were entering a security checkpoint in the airport, at which time I was yanked aside to be checked. And I was thinking to myself, Oh, how’s this gonna go over? Am I going to be a trainer after this? Doctor Shapiro trained me to be a trainer and an intimate cohort of eight which was an amazing experience. But she really instilled that I was responsible for protecting her baby, EMDR therapy. And on January of 2011, my wonderful husband took his wife. The next day, Linda Ruff came to my home and offered EMDR therapy. And Dr. Shapiro called me twice to make sure I was doing therapy and I kept doing therapy with Carl Nicholson for a year and a half. Later, I was invited to join the EMDR Institute. And now I train for Connect EMDR Training and Consulting and I’m an R-TEP G-TEP trainer. Along that way, I’ve been very active in the Orlando Regional Network and TRN and several EMDRIA committees, which have been hugely rewarding. I worked on a committee with Wendy Fritag and Nancy Aribo and Jocelyn Barrett, and we develop the core competencies of EMDR therapy. And 2016 EMDRIA has been hugely impactful on my way it’s been on my side the whole time.
Kim Howard 03:02
Well, that’s a that’s a that’s an awesome story about your professional career. And thank you for all that you do, and helping hundreds or possibly 1,000s of people through their trauma. And I know it’s been a while but we are extremely sorry about your your husband. I’m sure that was a huge shock and dramatic and when what a burden for for him and for you.
Reg Morrow Robinson 03:24
So it was it was and thank you for that Kim. And it was a great gift to have the EMDR community surround me at that time of mourning.
Kim Howard 03:35
Yeah. That’s wonderful. So Reg, tell us what is your favorite part of working with EMDR?
Reg Morrow Robinson 03:41
Oh easy: The innovation. You know, Dr. Shapiro studied a lot of different healing methods before she discovered EMDR. And she continued to do that. I also love the international aspect of EMDR that the whole world is sharing EMDR and we’re learning from one another, which is exciting. And I grew so much just last year at EMDRIA. Consultant Day – it was a beautiful representation of the innovation ethical concepts supporting one another. It was just dynamic. What I love changes over time.
Kim Howard 04:15
Well, we’ve gotten a lot of feedback about the Consultant Day and people have echoed the same sentiments that you’re echoing that very positive experience. And they really appreciate the fact that we even created the concept and brought everybody together to do that. And so that’s a it’s a good program for us to continue.
Reg Morrow Robinson 04:34
I think so. You hit it out of the ballpark, which you’re doing more and more.
Kim Howard 04:40
Yeah, yeah, we have we have a really great team and we were small but mighty. We have 14 staff members.
Reg Morrow Robinson 04:46
Kim Howard 04:47
And, and I started in August of 2020. And since then, we’ve hired more and more people so yeah, three more people. So yeah, it’s it’s it’s we’re growing because then membership is also growing to where it 14,000 plus members now and wow, when I when I started, I think it was, it was around 12. I can’t remember. But I have to go back and look at the membership reports. But yeah, we’ve really grown and that’s, it’s wonderful. It’s it’s kind of a double edged sword. It’s wonderful that we’ve grown as an association, because that’s what our job is, is to grow membership. But it’s also it’s also a little bit sad because it’s, it’s growing because people need still need trauma therapy, right. And so that it’s expanding out in a way that it’s actually more humans, which is very good. But the fact that we still need it, and we still need it in such volume is, you know, the double edged sword part. So, yes, yeah, man, I don’t think it’ll ever go away, quite frankly. So can you please define EMDR early intervention?
Reg Morrow Robinson 05:47
Yes, early intervention is wider than EMDR. Any psychotherapy model that engages in a recent overwhelming event strives to achieve safety, containment, a limited scope to treat, it focuses on the installation of hope, connection and resiliency. So it leans away from deep high intensity therapy, in times of crisis, critical incidents and disasters and humanitarian work. And more into focusing on addressing the current struggles, building resiliency, hope and connection. It’s a different mindset, a launch Shapiro shared, normal people who have just experienced something abnormal, are our clients. There are three guidelines, treatment guidelines that define early intervention as providing care within 90 days after an events or prevention 30 days or less. So that’s the International Society for traumatic stress and American Psychological Association and the National Institute for Healthcare excellence. The problem is that early intervention isn’t just limited to 90 days, it’s ongoing in many situations. And the important to research if you’re doing research, you need to care about the 90 days or the 30 days. But if you’re focusing on your client caseload, or responding to a community disaster or humanitarian situation, 90 days goes out the window. So we’re it’s not about a timeframe. It’s about how things are neurobiologically stored in the brain. So, certain clinical features of early interventions include, knowing that the memory is stored in a fragmented nature or unconsolidated factor, Shapiro, Bessel Vander Kolk, and Dr. Edna Foa, all share this perspective of fragmented and consolidated memory. It has to be adaptable to ongoing episodes, periods, long periods of lack of safety, which contribute to complicate the ability to resume normal life functioning for an individual. Think of a chronic illness, or refugees, victims of wildfires or floods or even somebody trying to recover from a significant addiction. That doesn’t happen once it’s ongoing, and the family members are struggling with it as an ongoing episode. And these in early intervention protocols work beautifully there. There’s also the surge to be addressed. You know, when a big event happens, a disaster happens there’s a surge of need, but also a surge of caregivers. And that demands that we need a stepped care and team approach. Dr. Louise Maxfield, former editor of the Journal of the EMDR Practice and research wrote a powerful article about low-intensity interventions and the stepped care approach in 2021. Aarly interventions are also simpler to structured, their brief time limited. Assessments are often built into the process like an R-TEP and G-TEP. Stabilization is the first goal and often that is built in as well. It’s time efficient, meaning this is a beautiful part of AIP and EMDR, the generalization effect so these protocols really hone in on how to capitalize on a generalization effect. We take one point of disturbance or one fragment at a time. And as that dissolves. We then reassessed what the next one is we’re going to pick to choose to process the client actually does that so it’s very empowering for the client. The therapists aren’t picking the clients are picking those fragments, group protocols utilize blind to therapists approach, which is really, really helpful. Last EMDRIA Conference, Derrick Farrell presented a research project that shared opportunity for people to process a recent or old trauma in a group protocol where the disturbance is not shared out loud, you’re not reporting between sets what’s come up? And because they knew the clients knew they didn’t have to say it out loud. They said yes to the research. After the research was over 85 percent of them said they would not have done this piece of work if they had to share it out loud. Think about that.
Kim Howard 10:27
That’s a lot of people.
Reg Morrow Robinson 10:28
Yes, yes. Yeah. So much so. So there are two also powerful suites of EMDR early intervention protocols. When you think of a suite, think of your computer, right? Like, perhaps your Microsoft or your Mac, or you’re a Google user. Like me, I use all three. They have different things I love about them, a big learning curve, but I love them. And each suite offers programs that have a specific goal. Microsoft has Word, Excel, PowerPoint, even others, Mac offers Pages, Sheets, Keynotes. These programs have similar operating features, they different functions, you can transfer data from one to the other. You can have a common support system with Microsoft or Mac or Google. And updates are provided. They’re also adaptable to different levels of training received. So there’s a basic user who uses the programs on a minimal level. But then there are people who are more advanced trained, who can use the protocols and programs with much more complexity. So suites are really important in agencies and a disaster response or in humanitarian work. The two primary suites are Nacho Jarero, developed suites, which are IGTP, PRESCI and IGTP, OTS and ASSYST. And then there’s a Elon’s (Shapiro) suites for four elements R-TEP, G,-TEP, G-REP, and C G-TEP. Would you like me to say out the acronyms or are you good?
Kim Howard 12:21
I think what we’ll do for the listeners is we will put links in the description to each of those that you mentioned, so that people can find the research, whether they’re EMDR therapists are listening or potentially EMDR therapists or quite frankly, clients who might be interested in EMDR therapy they really want to delve into because some people were really into research, you know, they’re really patient. So we will put those in the description box on the podcast.
Reg Morrow Robinson 12:47
All right. There are some other EI (early intervention) protocols, too, that I will include, for you to add, as well.
Kim Howard 12:55
Perfect. You’ve got all these great protocols, you’ve you’ve, you’ve got all the skills that you need. So can you talk to us about what successes you’ve seen, using EMDR early intervention?
Reg Morrow Robinson 13:05
Listening to your other podcasts, it gives me goosebumps hearing about those successes. So it was very fun coming up with this complicated losses of spouses and children process more smoothly. Couples using G-TAP or IGTP grieve together and heal together. And your last guest spoke to the power of doing EMDR work for a couple. And families and crew. These group protocols are very useful in those situations. I can think of one of my earliest ones was a law enforcement officer who worked in farms in the rural areas outside of my town Orlando, and he came in because he could no longer drive outside the city limits or be in the rural areas of town. We did one history session and two sessions targeting the line of duty incidences of discovering two different types of deaths, which tapped into his sibling suicide. He was back to work after the third session, and he’d been out for two months.
Kim Howard 14:09
Wow. That’s fantastic. What a great proof that EMDR works. Yeah. I’ve utilized it with athletes, high school and college and now pro athletes after a difficult performance, a college football kicker. It’s just very exciting how wide and diverse the end or early interventions can be used. People struggling with breast cancer. I could probably talk about this for five days straight. Well, as a college football fan, I root for Alabama, so don’t help anybody from any other teams.
Reg Morrow Robinson 14:50
Oh, I’m a Gator. So don’t help anybody else. If they’re having a bad performance. Just let them keep going, having a bad performance. I’m just kidding. That’s Awesome. That’s That’s great. And I also know that you, I can’t remember what year it was. But when the Pulse Nightclub tragedy happened, you mobilizes the troops, as they say, and you were boots on the ground very quickly. Yes. Yeah, our Orlando TRN is really unified with all knowing R-TEP and G-TEP, which makes it easier to share cases and staff and work together as a team. And we can use G tap to work through what we’ve been exposed to, and whatever event we’ve been working on.
Kim Howard 15:32
Yeah, that’s awesome. So are there any myths that you would like to bust about EMDR early intervention?
Reg Morrow Robinson 15:38
Yeah, it’s not about the 90 days. It’s about how it’s stored in the client’s brain, the fragments. That’s really important. And that’s, I think, the biggest, you know, and they’re so adaptable and flexible. Not just heavy chronic cases, but lightweight situations as well. That’s going to be my favorite myth to bust.
Kim Howard 16:02
No, that’s a good myth. That’s a good because when I was preparing for this interview, I was like, is there like a timeframe for this? I mean, we’re, you know, that’s my question from you coming from a non-therapist perspective, I’m like, ‘Is there a window of opportunity that you’re supposed to do things? How does that work?’ So it’s good to explain it to the listeners? Yeah, that’s, that’s good information. So the most common question there is and training, I’m sure, I’m sure that comes up with people. If it’s not if it’s day 95, can I still use early intervention? Because you can.
Reg Morrow Robinson 16:38
Decades later on an events that are three, four decades old.
Kim Howard 16:43
Reg, can you tell us are there any specific complexities or difficulties with using early intervention?
Reg Morrow Robinson 16:49
Oh, I think the biggest one is that the therapist is often sitting with a big mess, you know, the client has experienced something scary, there’s a lot of pressure to reach in and save them or save the community, kind of a savior complex can be engaged. So it’s really important to learn how to do the EI protocols well, and operate within a team before disaster strikes, and learn how to utilize self care. Tapping into these protocols, you can use some of the group protocols, for instance, on oneself. And because it’s blind-to-therapist, they can be shared, you can do the G-TEP and the IGTP on the team. It’s wonderful, the kindling effect, you know, when we’re exposed to an overwhelming event, things can Kindle like a fire. And years later, the flames burst open or the PTSD symptoms show up. So the complex issue there is not recognizing the sub clinical symptoms that lead to the kindling, and treating it sooner, before a diagnosis of PTSD or other more complex, secondary and tertiary problems evolve. That’s good.
Kim Howard 18:11
How else do you practice self care?
Reg Morrow Robinson 18:13
Ah, thank you. I have accountability partners, as EMDR peers, you know, we check in on each other, we ask each other about how things are going. I spend some time settling myself before my clinical work day, before trainings, and after those trainings, I notice if anything gets activated, and I find a way to work on that rather than ignore it and say, Oh, it was just a hard day. You know, I might use the G-TEP on myself, for instance, right when COVID hit Elon Shapiro released it for self care use and it’s been very, very helpful that way. And then they’re the traditional ones, you know, great exercise good friends getting outside a lot and trying to find ways to laugh a lot.
Kim Howard 19:02
Yeah, yeah, I like I think you’re the first person I’ve interviewed who’s talked about accountability partners. Everyone else has talked about the same the other you know, getting your own therapy, exercising, getting good sunshine, vitamin D exposure, yoga, whatever they else they need to do to take care of themselves. But accountability partners, I really like that that’s something new and different. You know, talking to your peers who understand what you’re going through because they go through it, you know, you can talk to it’s kind of like your work spouse’s, right? You can talk to your work spouse about work stuff because they understand because they’re in the culture of the organization you work for, but your family doesn’t necessarily understand all the quirks and personalities that are going on with the with the office and so you can tell them but you may not be as helpful as you’re somebody who’s a work colleague.
Reg Morrow Robinson 19:53
You are so spot on. Yes, yeah. So read how do you practice cultural humility as an EMDR therapist? I’m always looking for ways EMDR can expand the ability to address culturally based trauma and adversity. Mark Nickerson and I have been developing a program utilizing GREP and GTEP. There’s four modalities, which addresses the identification of resources related to one’s own social identity. So when I’m working one on one, I’m very interested and those resources around cultural and social identity. The second module focuses on processing, trauma, and adversity related to social identity using GTEP. The third module focuses on bias, noticing your own bias, and processing through some disturbing fragments or points of disturbance. The last and fourth module still utilizes GTEP. In that case, we focus into the future, noticing the ability and capacity to lean into social engagement, maybe with the group that you’ve held a biased against, and working through anything that might cause avoidance. It’s been wonderful to think about expanding my clinical work and cultural humility. And I wish my graduate program back in the late 80s could have provided me what it EMDR community has given me in the last five years.
Kim Howard 21:39
It’s a great testament to the EMDR community, ponying up, as they say, and providing good information and resources. I truly believe there’s only so much you can learn in a college program, whether it’s, you know, undergrad, or post grad, I think most of our learning as professionals comes throughout our career. It really does, it comes in and you kind of learn this base information that you need to get the job or get on the career path that you want. But you really learn as you go, and you learn a lot more because you’re in that position, or in that career path a lot longer than you were in a college setting or a Postgres setting. And so you’re learning from your, your your people, basically. And you know, I’ve, I’ve been in the association publishing career path for 30 years at this point. And I have learned so much from my colleagues, you know, that much more than I ever learned. I mean, I learned bass stuff in college and in graduate school, but they are really truly the teachers at this point. So…
Reg Morrow Robinson 22:44
I so agree with you, and I so appreciate your position and EMDRIA helping facilitate us learning with each other.
Kim Howard 22:52
I really, this is…most of the organizations I’ve worked for in the past have been business related or career related for members. And that’s fine. There’s a need for that. This is the first organization I’ve worked for that has been comprised of people who help other people for a living. And it is extremely rewarding for me to come in and do this work, you know, and contribute to people who do what they what you guys do every day. It’s beautiful. It’s wonderful. And it really, truly is a vocation, to do this kind of work. And you have to be called to it. You can’t force it. So I am very happy to help out in any way that I can. Reg, do you happen to have a favorite free EMDR related resource that you would suggest either for the public or other EMDR therapists?
Reg Morrow Robinson 23:41
Am I stuck limited to one?
Kim Howard 23:43
Oh, no, you’re not limited, not limited at all. And I will also list them in the description so people can Okay, if there’s a link available, I will list them in them. Yay!
Reg Morrow Robinson 23:52
And, with Jason [Linder], you know, a fellow MFT… Okay. All right, wonderful. Well, one comes to mind. First one is Connectemdr.com offers free monthly study groups. And one of them focuses on early intervention. They have two others as well once in person, the others are virtual. There is also EarlyEMDRIntervention.org, which is all our tip G-TEP related biographies, articles, the four elements, a lot about self care, and there’s even information for non EMDR therapists then I love Scaling Up [.com]. It offers free webinars for clinicians surrounding early intervention in EMDR and intensives. One in the United Kingdom, FirstContact.net has is a wonderful resource for actually clinicians giving guidance to clinicians. It launched right after COVID began. The EMDRResearchFoundation.org has a great early intervention toolkit and access to grants I love podcasts. I go to the gym and I’m podcasting at the gym. So yours is one of my favorites. Yeah, he’s great. Yeah. And ‘Notice That with Jen and Melissa, and I love Jackie Flynn’s ‘Play Therapy Community’ and Rotem’s, ‘The Art and Science of EMDR.’ And I think what got me hooked on podcasts was a Huberman Lab, where I learned that the back three cell layers of your eyeball are actually the same cells as inside your cranial vault. And I was like, ‘Yes, that’s why we do eye movements.’
Kim Howard 25:44
Wow, that explains a lot.
Reg Morrow Robinson 25:46
Okay. And then, in the last couple days, preparing for this went to the EMDRIA website. And it’s consistently happening for me that every time I go, it’s grown. And I can get lost, I can spend a long time looking at all the wonderful articles that are there, including an excellent one on early intervention, what it’s like to go through EMDR international treatment guidelines. I mean, how many times were we looking for the latest research or trying to prove that EMDR is effective? The answers are right there on your website. That’s the plan. That’s the goal. I appreciate it very much.
Kim Howard 26:23
Good. That’s good. We were glad that it’s useful. And some of the other references that you mentioned, have been mentioned before on the podcast. And so we’re happy to share whatever information we can to educate people. It’s it’s not about ‘Oh, yeah, we want people to come to us.’ I mean, that’s our mission. Right? But right, it’s not just about that. It’s about sharing the information with the public at large, who may be seeking EMDR therapy, potential EMDR therapists or current EMDR therapists to get the right information, and to get good information that they can then utilize. So
Reg Morrow Robinson 26:56
Yes, yeah, thank you for doing that.
Kim Howard 27:00
It’s always the plan.
Reg Morrow Robinson 27:02
My trainees and consultees all get a good review of what’s on EMDRIA. It’s good.
Kim Howard 27:09
We like that. What would you like people outside of the EMDR community to know about EMDR early intervention?
Reg Morrow Robinson 27:16
That it’s preventative, right? Think about all the things we do in our lives to prevent problems like going to the dentist, medical checkups, we wash our dishes after we eat on them with soap, we exercise we check our tires and our car, lock our doors. All are these are to prevent problems. But we now have AIP checkup from the neck up, right? Imagine sitting through after the first six months of COVID. You sit down in a Zoom group and you’re in a group with other people and you run through your episode of COVID. So far, clearing out any stress moral injury related to it, you’re doing self administered bilateral stimulation, you’re not having to share anything out loud. And when it’s done. 60 to 90 minutes later, you’re feeling more balanced and capable of focusing. People in high-stress jobs or jobs that are faced with challenges moral injury or trauma could receive AIP checkups, to prevent burnout, continue to love their job and remain closer and connected to their team that they work with. I would recommend the world learning about AIP checkups from the neck up.
Kim Howard 28:33
I like that: checkup from the neck up. That’s good. That’s a that’s a sound bite for sure. That’s awesome.
Reg Morrow Robinson 28:38
I have to give that credit to Karen Alter-Reid the first person who ever told me about it. I don’t know if it was her idea, but it was certainly something I held on to.
Kim Howard 28:47
Yeah, it’s catchy. Yeah, it’s easy to remember. Yeah. So Reg, if you weren’t an EMDR therapist, what would you be?
Reg Morrow Robinson 28:55
Oh, I probably be working in the environmental field. I love science, and I love the outdoors. It would just be different than fun.
Kim Howard 29:05
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Reg Morrow Robinson 29:08
Oh, early intervention is growing by leaps and bounds. And so when I started my book project in June of 2021 on group EMDR, with my co-editor, Safa Kaptan of Turkey, I was thinking, ‘Oh, there’s so much to learn.’ But in that short amount of time, the doors have been blown off. It’s changed rapidly group EMDR. And so I invite you all to join it and be a part of early intervention, learning and growth and consider moving from being an individual therapist to a group EMDR therapist having both of those capacities in your practice. Thankfully, thank you for having me.
Kim Howard 29:53
We’re thrilled to have you on the podcast. So thank you for agreeing.
Reg Morrow Robinson 29:56
It’s a wonderful experience. And I want to encourage everybody else to say yes, when Kim calls.
Kim Howard 30:05
That’s right. Listen to that. Listen up if you get an email from me say yes. Thanks. Thanks, Reg. This has been the Let’s Talk EMDR Podcast with our guest Reg Morrow Robinson. Visit www.emdria.org for more information about EMDR therapy or to use our Find an EMDR Therapist Directory with more than 14,000 therapists available. Our award-winning blog, Focal Point, offers information on EMDR and is open resource. Thank you for listening.
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Copyright © 2023 EMDR International Association
Howard, K. (Host). (2023, May 1). EMDR Early Intervention with Reg Morrow Robinson, Ed.S., LMFT, LMHC (Season 2, No. 9) [Audio podcast episode]. In Let’s Talk EMDR podcast. EMDR International Association. https://www.emdria.org/letstalkemdrpodcast/
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