The MET(T)A Method - Updates for EMDR Canada
It has been about a year now since Noah Levine and Refuge Recovery Centers gave me the go ahead to begin implementing my vision for a new approach to addictions treatment, now known as the MET(T)A Method. My thought was that with our having already established Buddhist Mindfulness as the base and foundation of the program, that integrating EMDR Therapy as the front line clinical intervention would be a natural fit. At that time I also started working on my upcoming co-authored book with Dr. Jamie Marich on EMDR and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care, within which are many of the principles, theoretical underpinnings and practical activities embedded in the MET(T)A Method. Finally, through both meditative consideration and practice in the field, I noticed that a significant aspect of the method should be that we look at the work of the agency as a whole using the 8 Phase Protocol and Adaptive Information Processing Model (AIP) of EMDR therapy as the way to vision, frame, evaluate, plan and deliver treatment. I had the opportunity to present these ideas and some of what has been gleaned from our experience at the 2016 EMDRIA Conference in Minneapolis. Having had the opportunity to present again at the 2017 Evolution of Addiction Conference, and having been asked to do the same at the 2017 EMDR Canada Conference in Banff this April, I now have the opportunity to provide some updates as the model and method have progressed.
At Refuge Recovery Centers, we have since doubled the number of trained EMDR therapists on staff to 10 (11 if you include myself), and that includes our founder Noah Levine. Our staff psychiatrist had to postpone his Part 2 training for scheduling reasons, but the hope is that he will find his way into a Part 2 training and join the fully trained team. Our supervision meetings are now running fully through the prism of the 8 phase protocol and the AIP model, with cases being discussed from the point of view of where the client is in the 8 phases, what resourcing work is being done, whether they are ready for transition into reprocessing, and discharge planning that takes all of this information into account. Addiction specific protocols are discussed and utilized as necessary, as are interventions specific to the variety of comorbid Complex PTSD issues we see at the center, but our main focus is this focus on the possibility of trauma resolution as part of the treatment - regardless of whether it happens at the center, at a lower level of later care, or upon discharge. By acknowledging that not all clients can be prepared and stabilized to that level where reprocessing can begin, but that all clients can go through a profound building of resilience and become familiar with the language and practice of EMDR therapy, we become able to provide trauma focused care while being distinctly not cookie cutter.
The mindfulness that the clients are practicing is that described by the historical Buddha delivered through the Refuge Recovery program, where the 4 Noble Truths and the 8 fold path are distilled into an addictions treatment modality. These practices are helping clients to move into the painful experience of their addictive minds and habits and build distress tolerance while also finding ways to cultivate positive states such as loving kindness and self compassion. Supported by Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, Trauma Informed Yoga, Attachment Theory Psychoeducation, and other trauma informed and trauma focused modalities, Buddhist psychology has proven to be a powerful central organizing methodology for addiction treatment. When paired with EMDR therapy, it seems we have a new level of possibility of ending the cycle of addiction. We do this by ending the cycle of untreated trauma while treating the addiction, at the speed that the client is able to tolerate. There is a great deal of hope being generated by this approach, and a lessening of suffering that is profound.
In my next blog post, I will share some of what our clinicians are saying about our work, as well as some of what our clients have to say. Until then...