Dr. Alff did extensive research into trauma from varied sources. Because of this, she specialized in therapy for many traumas. Her findings are detailed below and although her practice has closed, this information is still valuable.
Notes from Dr. Alff's research on trauma in her own words:
"I specialize in trauma intervention to increase psychological well-being in individuals, marriages, families, and workforces. I find that stress, abuse, and trauma have precipitated mental health and / or physical problems in many people, causing conditions that just don't respond fully to mental health and medical interventions. The stress / abuse / trauma may surface as addictions, affective disorders, adjustment disorders, conduct disorders, panic, anxiety, eating disorders, phobias, high blood pressure, or failure to heal as expected, to cite a few examples. Research has shown that 65% of alcoholics use to forget trauma. For information on the connection between stress, mental health, and vision, click here. For inforation on the connection between stress, attitudes, and emotions, click here. Therefore, since 1984, I have focused on stress / abuse / trauma interventions with these and other clinical psychology problems so as to increase the ability of the body to heal.
"I define trauma as anything that a person can not get over and put behind them. I use three types of trauma interventions: EMDR in psychotherapy; Prayer in Consultations [dealing with the lies believed (cognitions) within a painful situation, and using the context of a person's faith]; and a 6-Part NPD Educational lecture series on Experiencing Narcissistic Personality Disorder [NPD] from a Christian perspective, Copyright © 2003 by Dr. Mardee Alff, Psy.D. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is abuse that is not so much seen as felt."
Trauma Intervention: EMDR
Dr. Alff trained in EMDR Level II, offered by the EMDR Institute. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a revolutionary procedure started in 1989 by Francine Shapiro, PH.D. It is especially effective in trauma related illnesses and post traumatic stress disorder to "digest" the trauma, to stop intrusive thoughts and nightmares, and to allow the person to put the trauma behind them.
Currently, there is more research showing EMDR efficacy than for systematic desensitization. EMDR has been used successfully with over 7,000 Vietnam Veterans, rape victims, alcoholics, anxiety disorders, agoraphobia, depression and accident victims. You can also check information at www.emdria.org .1-512-451-5200.
EMDR is a procedure to be used judiciously by trained clinicians with appropriate clients within the framework of therapy. The speed with which EMDR processes trauma reduces the length of time the client has to suffer. Even adult clients with childhood trauma, who have been in the mental health system for years, have said that with EMDR they feel that they have finally gotten forward movement in their lives instead of recycling the trauma.
Further, Dr. Alff found EMDR very helpful in other circumstances of stress. For example, she used it in helping clients change unwanted reactions/behavior to certain situations even when there did not appear to be a trauma base to the presenting problem. It was also effective with long lasting emotional hurts.
Her research led her to believe that trauma changes the brain, and that resolving the trauma allows the brain to heal. Interestingly, Dr. Gregory Nicosia, Ph.D., of 3519 Bigelow Blvd. Pittsburgh, PA 15213 [412-683-8378], did research using the QEEG (Quantitative Analysis of Electroencephalography) immediately before and after a trauma client's first session of EMDR. After EMDR, he found a resolution of "a nearly 5 standard deviation hypo coherence interhemispherically" --a picture of dissociation, so to speak, and how quickly it normalized. ¹
Nicosia also showed that EMDR is not hypnosis, as the brain waves during EMDR are those of normal wakefulness. In hypnosis, brain waves are those of an altered state of consciousness. ²
Dr. Alff was often asked how eye movements can digest stress/abuse/trauma. The answer is that no one knows. What she did find, though, is significant. During trauma, the left brain [which is verbal, linear, sequential, and the positive side of the brain] shuts down. At this time the trauma is contained in the right brain [which is nonverbal, spatial, and fostering artistry.] It holds the emotions, and is the negative side.
The body normally appears to digest trauma or the stress of the day's activities during the R.E.M. [Rapid Eye Movement] sleep cycle. If a person sleeps deeply with R.E.M. for two days after stress/trauma, the trauma begins to lessen in intensity. However, stress/trauma victims rarely sleep well afterward, and the victim is left with the strength of the memory encapsulated in the right brain.
Whenever the person comes in contact with similar situations, the stress/trauma will "leak", giving them an emotional or physical reaction out of proportion to the circumstance. EMDR appears to be a way to introduce the integrative effects of R.E.M. sleep during the waking state. It helps the trauma to be integrated between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and digested: it removes the pain and gives emotional distance without removing the memory.
1: Nicosia, G. (1994, March). The Qualitative Analysis of Electroencephalography Representing a Localized Psychogenic Amnesia and its Resolution by Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Psychotherapy. Paper presented at the International EMDR Conference in Sunnyvale, CA.
2: Nicosia, G. (1994). Brief Note: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is Not Hypnosis. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Trauma Intervention: Prayer
Dr. Alff used Theophostic® Prayer and other prayer modalities with trauma. Theophostic ® Prayer assesses the emotions, the circumstances surrounding the emotions, the lie-based beliefs involved, and invites Jesus to bring in the Truth. It is Truth from Jesus that heals.
Theophostic® Prayer Ministry, or the International Association of Theophostic Ministry's website is: http://theophostic.org/page/contactinfo, 270-465-3757. Theophostic® is a trade-mark of Dr. Ed Smith and Alathia Ministries, Inc., of Campbellsville, Kentucky. For further information about Dr. Ed Smith and Theophostic® Prayer Ministry, see the website athttp://www.transformationprayer.org/.
The following ministries are specific prayer ministries that Dr. Alff found helpful in reducing trauma, as well as negative attitudes. She included these references for the Christian Community seeking this type of prayer:
Pastor Henry Wright, Pleasant Valley Church, Inc., in Georgia, USA, has written "A More Excellent Way: A Teaching on the Spiritual Roots of Disease." Contact http://www.beinhealth.com/ for current course offerings. The phone number is: 706-646-2074.
Proclaiming His Word Ministries by Chester and Betsy Kylstra of Florida, USA. (www.phw.org, 1-850-835-4060) have written "Restoring The Foundations: An Integrated Approach to Healing Ministry." They have an International Restoring The Foundations Training Center in Hendersonville, NC USA, 1-888-324-6466.
Trauma Intervention: Experiencing Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Six-Part Lecture Series, from a Christian Perspective.
The objectives of the NPD Series are to understand:
- And recognize what you are dealing with in the NPD behavior
- How to position yourself in an NPD relationship; and
- New ways to assertively care for yourself spiritually, emotionally and physically.
The purpose of the NPD Series is to continue to deepen your love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That allows the Lord to restore and renew your personhood while you are dealing with the abuser.