What is Alpha-Stim and How Does It Work?

alpha stim May 03, 2023

By Sarah Martin, LCPC, NCC
EMDRIA Approved Consultant

Alpha-Stim is a powerful tool to help people with emotion regulation and widening their window of tolerance. According to the website https://alpha-stim.com/, “The Alpha-Stim cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) device delivers a natural level of microcurrent, via small clips worn on your earlobes, through the brain to stimulate and modulate specific groups of nerve cells.” The microcurrent the device produces helps stimulate alpha-wave production in the brain and it is cleared by the FDA to treat anxiety, depression, insomnia, and chronic pain.

Types of Alpha-Stim devices  

There are two types of Alpha-Stim devices: the AID and the M. The AID device is for anxiety, depression, and insomnia utilizing ear clips to deliver the microcurrent.  Licensed mental health providers are authorized to prescribe the AID. The M device is specific for treating localized pain and comes with probes for delivering the...

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How Can Sandtray Therapy Help?

sandtray therapy Mar 31, 2023

By Marlee Bardenett, LCPC, NCC

EMDRIA Consultant in Training

When I was trained in EMDR, I was so excited to have such a powerful approach for treating trauma. As a bonus, I was thrilled to hear that EMDR and Sandtray could be used together. EMDR is so adaptable and allows clinicians to bring their creative interventions to the trauma processing space. I was trained in Sandtray Therapy while I was in graduate school. Being trained in Sandtray and EMDR has allowed me to combine two passions. Sandtray and EMDR are well-suited to be used together to support clients. I have noticed that Sandtray is especially helpful for clients who need support with visualizing and grounding.

Homeyer and Sweeney define Sandtray Therapy as “an expressive and projective mode of psychotherapy involving the unfolding and processing of intra- and interpersonal issues through the use of specific sandtray materials as a nonverbal medium of communication, led by the client(s) and facilitated by a...

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Can EMDR Treat Racial and Cultural Trauma?

racial trauma Mar 12, 2023

By Jamie Sedgwick, LCPC, NCC 

EMDRIA Approved Consultant

2020 was a year of challenges and changes. For many of us, our lives have been forever changed. One necessary challenge and change was an openness regarding the impact of systemic racism on our country. Understanding the impacts of systemic racism led me to consider how it has impacted the field of psychology, what changes need to be made and how EMDR can potentially be utilized to treat cultural and racial trauma. 

Systemic Racism and Psychotherapy

I have often felt that my Master’s program’s one course requirement in cultural competency did not do anything to make me culturally or racially competent as a therapist. If anything, I remember walking away from that course with an unsettled feeling. It was a textbook full of “facts” and “statistics” about races and cultures that did nothing to make me feel more prepared to be a culturally competent therapist. In reflection, that...

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How to Become a Trauma Specialist

trauma specialists Mar 03, 2023

By Jamie Sedgwick, LCPC, NCC 

EMDRIA Approved Consultant

An increase in information about trauma, PTSD and C-PTSD has led to an increase in the demand for Trauma Therapists. However, there are no clear guidelines on what is actually required to be a Trauma Therapist. There are plenty of training programs that promise a “Certification” once completed and all these programs and trainings contain different information and different levels of engagement. Ultimately, pretty much anyone can call themselves a “Trauma Therapist” meaning that Trauma Therapists and their skill sets vary greatly. 

So how do you become a Trauma Therapist that is truly equipped to help clients heal from trauma? 

Take Time to Become Trauma-Informed 

Trauma-Informed treatment approaches consist of three elements: realizing the prevalence of trauma, recognizing the impact of trauma and responding in a way that puts this knowledge into action.1In layman’s terms,...

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PTSD Signs, Symptoms, and When to Seek Help

ptsd Feb 08, 2023

By Sarah C. Smith-Trawick, LCSW-C 

EMDRIA Approved Consultant

Have you noticed how trauma seems to be everywhere these days?

By now, most clinicians are familiar with “Big T” traumas such as a car accident, an assault, a natural disaster, or even the death of a significant person in your life.

Are you familiar with “Small t” traumas which could include the loss of a job, a divorce, or infidelity in a romantic relationship?

Traumatic events can also include other persistent adverse experiences including poverty, neglect, community or household violence, and growing up in a home where a caregiver suffers from mental health challenges or substance abuse. We each have our own unique ways of responding to events that overwhelm our system. These events (or series of events) can sometimes alter our worldview and our view of ourselves. What is traumatic to one person may not be considered traumatic to another person. Additionally, while we all might experience...

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Borderline Personality Disorder and Trauma

By Jamie Sedgwick, LCPC, NCC
EMDRIA Approved Consultant

Increased access to social media in recent years has meant more access to information about mental health and various diagnoses. There are pros and cons to the increased exposure, with one of the biggest drawbacks being no quality control to verify the accuracy of the information being shared. Individuals hoping to better understand themselves or a loved one may receive inaccurate or biased information.

One mental health diagnosis that has garnered a lot of social media attention is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This is a diagnosis that has carried a negative connotation even among medical professionals. Some even believe this diagnosis cannot be cured. As a result, many clinicians will refuse to treat BPD and attempt to refer those who have it to other clinicians.

As a clinician specializing in this disorder, I have seen a significant increase in the amount of individuals self-diagnosing and seeking treatment. Due to...

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Three Ways Emotional Trauma Changes the Brain

emotional trauma Dec 14, 2022

By: Katie Honeywell, LPCMH, NCC

How does the brain change with trauma? The word “trauma” is becoming more familiar to the general population. Many people recognize the psychological impact of being in physical danger or witnessing someone being in danger. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition defines trauma in relationship to a near-death experience of oneself or a loved one (2013). However, you will hear the echoes from trauma therapists, that the existence of trauma is less about the content of the experience and more about the process of the nervous system. In other words, if the nervous system is overwhelmed, then it is trauma.

Let’s highlight a few examples of events that at face value may not seem life-threatening, but can be traumatic. Humans see the world through an individualized lens based on what we have experienced and learned thus far in life. We can look at Maslow's Hierarchy of needs for some guidance on threats of...

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Five Signs of Untreated Childhood Trauma

childhood trauma Nov 28, 2022

By Katie Honeywell, LPCMH, NCC

Do you have personality traits that you or others in your life feel strongly about? Most of us do. Chances are these traits have been with you for a long time. They can be signs of untreated trauma. One way I can spot childhood trauma in adults is where these traits fall in our nervous system and how it shows up day to day.

Have you heard of polyvagal theory developed by Stephen Porges (2011)? The pieces from polyvagal theory important for learning here are the three areas of the nervous system. The sympathetic system is one, and it activates hyperarousal states of fight or flight behaviors. The dorsal vagal system shuts the body down into a hypoarousal freeze response as it realizes there are very few options for survival and attempts to conserve energy. Polyvagal theory adds our social engagement system, which is a mixture of activation and calming. The social engagement system is where people feel safe, connected, and ready to experience the world....

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The Top 3 Traits a Trauma Specialist Should Have

trauma specialists Oct 25, 2022

By Jamie Sedgwick, LCPC, NCC

EMDRIA Approved Consultant

Five years ago, I made the decision to get trained in EMDR therapy as a way to treat PTSD as a certified trauma specialist effectively. When I signed up for EMDR training, I viewed it as a potential tool to add to my therapist toolbox that I could pull out when needed. Instead, I received training in a modality that completely changed my treatment approach regardless of the diagnosis. 

As an EMDR therapist that works primarily with complex trauma, I have learned to conceptualize my role as the therapist in a very different way than I had previously. I am no longer expected to have all the answers or be the expert. However, this does not mean how I show up in the therapeutic relationship has lost value. I have come to realize there are three trauma specialist traits that every trauma specialist should bring to the therapeutic relationship. 

Unconditional Positive Regard

Unconditional positive regard, the acceptance,...

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What are the Top Causes of Emotional Trauma?

emotional trauma Sep 22, 2022

By Sarah Martin, LCPC, NCC

Trauma is everywhere, and with everything going on in the world today, we cannot ignore its presence. No one is immune to the impact of trauma. So what exactly do we mean when we say the word trauma? I often refer to Bessel van der Kolk’s definition of trauma as “an event that overwhelms the central nervous system, altering the way we process and recall memories.” What I like about this definition is that it opens the door to so many experiences, big and small. As an EMDR therapist, I have found that the small events or “little t” traumas can often be the most pervasive and deeply emotional. 

Emotional trauma can be caused by any event or experience that disrupts our sense of safety and security, often leaving us feeling helpless. The top causes of emotional trauma are verbal or emotional abuse, physical or sexual abuse, childhood neglect, spiritual or religious abuse, an accident or natural disaster, witnessing domestic...

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