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A Radical New Therapy Could Treat The ‘Untreatable’ Victims Of Trauma

The Comprehensive Resource Model recently made the cover story of Newsweek as Matthew Green’s excellent article takes a deep dive into the origins of this unique PTSD treatment. Still a young and relatively undiscovered form of therapy, the Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM) is steadily gaining a reputation for being able to help trauma survivors, including survivors of childhood trauma, where many of the traditional talking therapies have been unsuccessful.

In his article,  ‘A Radical New Therapy Could Treat The ‘Untreatable’ Victims Of Trauma’, Matthew Green delves into some of the unique aspects of CRM when compared to more widespread approaches to treating PTSD such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. At the core of this, the Comprehensive Resource Model aims to realign and re-integrate dysregulated bodily and emotional sensations as a result of a person’s traumatic experiences. As Matthew Green puts it:

In standard therapy, practitioners will encourage survivors to come to terms with an awful event by talking about it in great detail, and perhaps even record their account so they can later listen to it over and over to extinguish their fear. Lisa Schwarz’s work could not be more different. In a CRM session, there’s no need to talk about what happened. Rather than delving into the stories her clients tell about the past, Lisa Schwarz encourages them to focus on the physical sensations arising in their bodies as they silently recall their worst memories: chest-crushing sadness, a hot flash of anger, stomach cramps, palpitations or feeling like one’s heart is frozen in ice. Only by facing such feelings fully—if only for a moment—can the survivors finally let go of their buried anger, terror or shame.

Most Trauma Needs Some Form Of Body-Oriented Psychotherapy Or Bodywork To Heal

This is an idea which has been gathering momentum and increasing backing for many years now. Dr Bessel van der Kolk was one of the first to draw attention to the notion that trauma treatment needs to tackle more than just the experiences of the rational brain and body-oriented therapies such as yoga and mindfulness can play a vital role. We explored this in one of our earlier articles which discusses bodily focussed therapies, in it Dr van der Kolk explains this in his own words:

“What most people do not realise is that trauma is not the story of something awful that happened in the past, but the residue of imprints left behind in people’s sensory and hormonal systems.  Traumatised people often are terrified of the sensations in their own bodies. Most trauma-sensitive people need some form of body-oriented psychotherapy or bodywork to regain a sense of safety in their bodies.”

Comprehensive Resource Model Equips Clients With Internal Resources

The Comprehensive Resource Model teaches and equips patients with a set of internal resources which they can draw upon to overcome the trauma in their lives. Breathing skills, somatic embodiment skills, attachment neurobiology and spiritual resourcing are all used in various ways to empower clients to deal with their trauma at a bodily level. In Matthew Green’s article, he describes some of the CRM techniques which psychiatrist Dr Gordon Barclay uses in the sessions with one of his patients:

Dr Barclay began by asking Karen to mentally scan her body for even the smallest points where she could still feel a sense of being centered and present. He then asked her to imagine joining these dots with bars of energy to create a “grid of light” crisscrossing her body—a CRM technique to stop her dissociating. Patients say that this imaginary structure—the grid—serves as a kind of “emotional scaffolding” that keeps them stable as painful memories surface.

Dr Barclay went on to teach her another grounding exercise, known as “CRM Earth breathing,” in which Karen imagined she was filtering energy up from the Earth’s core, drawing it to the base of her spine through the sole of one foot then expelling it out the other. In another breathing exercise, she released anger by seeing herself “fire breathing” smoke and flames like a dragon. And she learned to bathe herself in kindness by visualizing the act of inhaling and exhaling through her heart.

Visualisation techniques, such as those described above, can be very effective in the context of a persons’ journey through trauma recovery and they form an important aspect of CRM’s approach to patient empowerment. Green’s full article explores CRM further and looks into the landscape of trauma therapy as a whole. To learn more about CRM you might also enjoy our previous article, ‘Comprehensive Resource Model For Trauma Recovery’ and Lisa Schwarz’s Comprehensive Resource Model website.

How We Use CRM At The Oxford Development Centre

Our therapists have trained with Lisa Schwarz to learn how to effectively apply the techniques and principles which she has developed into the Comprehensive Resource Model. CRM is based on a sound scientific understanding of the neurological processes underpinning trauma and its recovery path. CRM resonates with us because of its heart-centred, growth-oriented approach which treats every client’s needs as unique to their own particular situation and experiences.   These are core values which we hold in the way we approach all therapeutic work  and we have found that the principles encompassed in CRM integrate perfectly with the other therapeutic approaches which we use with our clients. We therefore frequently incorporate CRM as part of our clients’ treatment plans, tailored to their unique experiences and circumstances. We feel this individualised approach lies at the heart of the success we have in helping people overcome and transform the negative effects of the challenges they have encountered in their lives.