Accelerated Information Processing (AIP) is a key factor in understanding the efficacy of EMDR Therapy. EMDR focuses on three neurological information storage forms — sensation, emotion and cognition. When all three negative neural networks are identified, linked with a distressing memory target and activated with Bilateral Stimulation (BLS), the consequence is a more complete and time-efficient resolution of disturbance. The development of the Integrative Resource Protocol (SR) resulted from my discovery that the AIP model is just as effective in potentiating positive sensations, emotions and cognitions as it is in resolving traumatic experiences and all of its associated negative sensations, emotions and cognitions. When SR is combined with elements of Attachment, Ego State and Somatic Psychology theories, it maximizes healing, attachment repair and the creation of new and more positive neural networks. Positive neurological integration occurs not only with emotions, sensations and cognitions but also within distressed Parts of the psyche. A systemic experience of well-being allows dissociation and fragmentation to heal and an experience of present-time wholeness becomes possible.
Super Resourcing is very similar to EMDR in its theoretical underpinnings but is turned “inside out.” An effective EMDR session ends with a positive cognition installation whereas SR starts with positive installations by targeting and processing positive images, sensations, emotions and cognitions. There is a large body of research on the power of positive imagery and visualization. Researchers in Sweden have found that imagination has a direct influence on perception, i.e., positive imagery has the power to change the way we think about and experience trauma. In a study from the Karolinska Institutet, published in the scientific journal Current Biology, the findings detail how imagination can alter mind-brain function. This finding, along with the conclusion of many mind/brain researchers is the foundation of SR. Super Resourcing, however, takes positive imagery a step further; Accelerated Information Processing and Bilateral Stimulation potentiate it and a more fully embodied and integrated positive network is neurologically developed.
EMDR, as well as many other trauma methodologies, are based on the assumption that reprocessing traumatic memories is necessary for their resolution. Although this may be an effective approach in many instances, SR provides an alternative; healing and resolution are possible without re-experiencing and reprocessing the original trauma. SR takes the trauma out of trauma work. Additionally, it opens the door for a wider range of clients — clients for whom EMDR is contraindicated due to poor ego strength, inability to self-regulate as well as those suffering from dissociation and fragmentation, stemming from complex trauma.
Seven Applications of the Super Resourcing:
1) Preparatory protocol for EMDR or other therapy modalities.
2) Enhance EMDR Interweaves or positive cognitions.
3) Neurological integration of any positive feeling, thought, sensation or moment.
4) Resolution of an activated disturbance as a stand-alone protocol.
5) No identified distress: SR for increasing self-esteem, well-being, resiliency, performance, integration of parts or empowerment
6) Resourcing Parts to heal attachment wounds
7) Resolving special issues and populations:
- Medical and Health Issues
The Fourteen benefits of Super Resourcing include the following:
1) Attachment Focus VS Trauma Focus
EMDR is primarily trauma, dysregulation and distress focused. Attachment repair may be included as an aspect of EMDR. This is especially true in Parnell’s creative use of interweaves, which bring attention to wounded parts. Examples would include a dialogue between an inner child and adult or a rescue interweave. At its core, however, no matter how many attachment features are added, EMDR was conceived and developed for resolving trauma. In contrast, IRP is not trauma/distress focused. It is designed solely as an attachment-based protocol. With IRP, the clinician attends to the person who experienced the trauma rather than the trauma itself. When activation of the attachment wound has been lowered or resolved, frequently, there will be a corresponding lowering of Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUDS) in relationship to the trauma.
2) Neurological Embodiment of Resources
Shapiro initiated the use of Safe Place as a preparatory resource phase before beginning the EMDR protocol. Parnell renamed Safe Place as Peaceful Place and added three additional resource figures: Nurturing, Protective and Wise Figures as well as inviting them to be a team. IRP is a further development of Parnell’s resourcing technique. The Procedural Steps of Super Resourcing are designed to create a comprehensive positive resource field for healing and attachment repair. Each of the four (or more) resources, i.e., Peaceful Place as well as Nurturing, Protective and Wise figures, are not simply invited to be a team but each is potentiated by identifying and developing all three information storage forms – positive sensation, positive emotion and positive cognition. Beyond individually developing each resource; a super team is created. Each resource is linked to the prior one so an all-inclusive positive field is strategically crafted and integrated neurologically.
3) Enhanced Present Time Experience of Self
The integrated internalization of resources facilitates an enhanced present-time experience of self. More fully resourced clients are better able to tolerate doing deep trauma work. Resolving the attachment wound interwoven in a trauma unfixes it in the client’s psyche and it processes more easily during subsequent EMDR sessions. The work goes more smoothly. Interweaves (interventions) are frequently not necessary. There is less occurrence of resistance, dissociation, looping or stuck processing. I came to understand that when these appear in a session, it is a cry for help from a distressed part of the psyche — that what is happening is too much or too scary and coping mechanisms have been overwhelmed. The part is in survival mode and shuts down the processing in order to protect itself. This phenomenon confirmed my interest in developing a protocol, which focuses on the client’s inner parts and their needs – a protocol in which the parts feel no need to resort to coping strategies – instead, a protocol which creates the optimal healing environment and promotes the development of vitality, stability, well-being and ego strength.
4) Developing a New Narrative
Super Resourcing lays a strong foundation for subsequent work. So often with attachment-based trauma, clients constellate their experience of themselves around their trauma. It becomes a defining touchstone in their psyche. When trauma is resolved, some clients experience a loss of identity. Their experience of the empty space where the trauma sensations, emotions, cognitions, flashbacks etc., used to reside is perceived as disorienting and sometimes disturbing. One client, at this juncture in her EMDR therapy exclaimed, “If I am not that person constantly scanning my environment for danger as if something bad were just about to happen, what will I do with myself? Who am I?” Sustaining therapeutic gains is more challenging when the gain itself is destabilizing. IRP front loads new positive identity markers. Consequently, the transition out of the trauma vortex is not as disquieting.
5) SR is Time Efficient
Like EMDR, Super Resourcing is time-efficient. Accelerated Information Processing with Bilateral Stimulation, results in Rapid Free Association. (Shapiro) As both reality and imagination have the potential to create new neural connections, healing takes place on a neurological level. Consequently, symptoms related to the trauma are no longer being activated and the client experiences more resolution.
6) Transforming Disturbance in the Positive Resourced Field
Shapiro and Parnell recommend short sets of BLS during resource installation so trauma and/or developmental networks do not get unduly activated prior to the EMDR session. Whether Super Resourcing is used as a preparatory phase of EMDR or a stand-alone protocol, longer sets or continuous BLS is utilized. Consequently, as Shapiro and Parnell have accurately predicted, disturbance frequently does surface. Rather than viewed as an undesirable occurrence, however, any disturbance is welcomed. Using Ego State psychology, the distressed part of the client is identified and brought into the positive potentiated resource field for attachment repair. His/her needs are recognized and are addressed. During subsequent EDMR trauma work, the identified parts have already experienced significant developmental repair and are better able to tolerate distressing feelings, thoughts and sensations that may emerge.
7) Stabilization and Integration of Structurally Dissociated Parts
In more extreme cases of neglect and trauma, structural dissociation occurs. Babies and young children have immature nervous systems and rely on caretakers to help regulate their needs and disturbances. There are two kinds of regulation: 1) interactive regulation – being soothed by others, and 2) auto-regulation – soothing oneself. Chronologically, the first precedes the second; being adequately soothed by others provides the foundation for learning how to soothe oneself. In the absence of interactive regulation, the child must find his/her own way to cope and structural dissociation is the most common solution. During Super Resourcing sessions, dissociated parts frequently emerge and may be invited into the integrated resource field for stabilization and healing. The missed developmental stage of interactive regulation may be creatively imagined in order to provide the experience of loving care and safety. This allows fragmented parts to reintegrate and orient in present time.
8) Applicable to a Wide Range of Clients
Typically, Super Resourcing with clients takes anywhere from one session to many months depending upon the depth of attachment wounding and the fragility of the client’s ego. Extended Super Resourcing is especially important for highly traumatized clients who have requested EMDR work and our clinical assessment is they are too dysregulated and do not have the ego strength necessary for a positive outcome. A common question asked by my consultees is, “How do I tell a client they are not ready for EMDR in a way that does not make them feel bad about themselves?” Rather than tell the client he/she is not ready (which may indeed have a negative impact on their already tenuous self-esteem,) IRP is an EMDR based resource protocol, which is clinically sound with a wider range of clients. The focus on developing positive neurological networks becomes empowering for the client and fosters a more natural “buy-in” to the therapeutic process. IRP is also an effective alternative healing modality with clients for whom trauma based EMDR may never be indicated.
9) Subjective to Objective Memory
Adaptive resolution to disturbance may occur entirely within the positively integrated resourced field. Frequently, I have found that once a client is fully resourced his/her perspective on the disturbing event evolves from a personal narrative to a more reality based and objective memory. In these cases, the adult regulated objective perspective is linked to the disturbing event resulting in a reduction of SUDS. If fragments of the trauma remain the clinician may invite the client to re-enter the resourced field for further healing.
10) More Access to Positive Neural Networks
More fully potentiated positive neural networks are developed through the IRP. During subsequent EMDR sessions when the client enters an activated trauma network, s/he has more natural access to resources as they were also developed in an AIP manner. This access to resources supports self-regulation and maintaining optimal arousal, i.e., the frontal cortex is more likely to stay online. Maintaining optimal arousal is necessary for healing old memories and developmental wounds as well as for the integration of new information. Many clients report that in between sessions maintaining optimal arousal in the face of challenging life moments, is more naturally possible. Clients are better able to respond to situations rather than react.
11) Identification of Processing Style
Even with just one session of Super Resourcing, much can be learned about the clients’ processing style as well as their readiness to do EMDR trauma work. By introducing extended BLS in a less evocative situation, the clinician can discern whether the client has a tendency to flood or dissociate as well as their processing style. We learn whether they process quickly or slowly or whether they are a linear processor (likely to remain in one neural network) or a tangential processor (likely to activate multiple networks.) This positions the clinician to better navigate the time management aspect of EMDR sessions and to formulate a therapeutic plan tailored to the client’s processing style.
12) Working with Resource Resistant Clients
The clinician is also able to identify resource resistant clients during the first session of Super Resourcing. In this case, I avoid using terms like Nurturing or Protective figures. Instead, I invite the client to recall actual past or present experiences. For Peaceful Place, I invite the client to recall a time they felt, for example, smart or strong or in tune with themselves. Instead of Nurturing figure, I ask for a memory of someone who was kind to them at a difficult time in their life. For Protective figure, I ask for some who has or had their back; someone who came to their aid or protected them in some way. And, for Wise figure, I ask them, if they had a problem to solve or needed a sounding board, who would they seek out. In other words, I inquire about the qualities each resource embodies rather than first asking for the resource figure. Non-resource resistant clients pull easily from either imagination or reality. For resistant types, however, reality-based resources are easier to access. This approach also works with clients who are very left brained, i.e., linear and literal. They are more comfortable in the realm of reality than in imagination.
13) Client Centered and Empowering
Super Resourcing is client centered and empowering. It supports the development of the client’s own imagination for creative solutions to distress. It also supports the strengthening of resilience. A more pervasive experience of well-being becomes possible when previously disavowed or fragmented parts of the self are more fully healed and integrated.
The following two case histories exemplify the efficacy of SR:
Susan, a 43-year old woman, was having relationship issues with her in-laws. This case is particularly useful because there were no precipitating events in her life. Susan had a good enough childhood and a good enough life. Consequently, this case allows for a clear view into the time-efficient healing potential of this protocol. Susan described feeling very judged by her husband’s parents. She felt misunderstood and misrepresented and it was interfering with her sleep and her general well-being. We set up four sessions. We used the first session for history taking and building therapeutic alliance. We spent the second session using IRP. Given her psychological maturity, her access to her inner life and lack of trauma, she was able to respond to each inquiry with specificity and confidence. She internalized the resources quickly and smoothly. At the close of this session, as she was getting up to go, she turned to me and said, “ You know what, I am going to cancel those other sessions. I’m feeling really good inside. Solid. Grounded in my own reality. I don’t really care what they think anymore. They can bad mouth me all they want but I know who I am. That’s all that matters.” A month later, I contacted her to find out if the positive results had lasted over time. She emphatically replied, “Yes.” Beyond resolving her upset regarding her in-laws, she felt more positive about everything and had taken on some new challenges at work, all of which she attributed to our session.
Steven entered therapy with lingering symptoms from a car accident, which occurred a year before we started working together. Each time he got into his car to drive somewhere a vague dread came over him; he rated his distress level at 7 (zero no distress and ten high distress.) During our conversation about the accident we identified an 8-year-old self who had experienced some abuse as a child and had similar feelings of not being in control and of powerlessness. Rather than use EMDR to process the early abuse events in order to impact lingering symptoms from the car accident, or use EMDR to process the car accident itself, I used IRP. During the session, I invited the 8-year-old into the fully integrated resource field for repair. This invitation serves much the same purpose as a rescue interweave but with IRP the imaginal experience is super charged by relying on the Accelerated Information Processing Model along with Bilateral Stimulation in order to more fully integrate the experience. Once the child self was fully resourced we checked the level of dread that originally accompanied getting in the car to drive somewhere; his distress level was reduced to two. What prevented the distress from going to zero was guilt — perhaps he could have prevented the accident had he been driving more defensively. We reentered the resourced field and within minutes, he accessed self-compassion and moved to accept the reality of the accident without second-guessing or judgment. His symptoms of dread while driving did not reappear over time.
I have been using Super Resourcing with my clients with great success. I have taught this protocol to over 100 EMDR consultees and colleagues who report positive results. They feel it has augmented the healing of attachment wounds and complex trauma in a time efficient manner. It has also decreased the level of trauma experienced in the process of doing trauma work. I have taught IRP to some non-EMDR clinicians, who found it to be a valuable addition to their practice. I also taught it to a hospice pastor who successfully uses it with his clients and his clients’ families as well as a home care nurse who uses it with her patients.
Super Resourcing has its roots in the brilliant work and thinking of Francine Shapiro who developed EMDR. I feel gratitude for having studied with her and for the trail blazing work she did which resulted in EMDR taking its rightful place as a legitimate and effective trauma methodology. I have also been strongly influenced by those who took Shapiro’s work and adapted it to address attachment issues within an EMDR session,. These include, Landry Wildwind, Shirley Jean Schmidt and Laurel Parnell .They became a stimulus for me to explore how to adapt EMDR to more directly addressing developmental wounding. I wish to acknowledge the work of Janina Fisher. She deepened my understanding of structural dissociation and taught me how to procedurally switch my clinical focus of attention from the trauma to the client who experienced it. Elena Felder has been instrumental in editing support and helping me think through various aspects of the protocol. Tiera St. Claire was instrumental in adding the video clips of client sessions for Super Resourcing presentations. I also wish to acknowledge my many consultees who used SR with their clients and provided me with the necessary feedback to evolve Super Resourcing into its present form.