Restoring the Soul with Michael John Cusick

Episode 276 - Barb Maiberger, "Breaking Free from Trauma: Exploring the Science Behind EMDR Therapy"

September 01, 2023 Barb Maiberger Season 12 Episode 276
Episode 276 - Barb Maiberger, "Breaking Free from Trauma: Exploring the Science Behind EMDR Therapy"
Restoring the Soul with Michael John Cusick
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Restoring the Soul with Michael John Cusick
Episode 276 - Barb Maiberger, "Breaking Free from Trauma: Exploring the Science Behind EMDR Therapy"
Sep 01, 2023 Season 12 Episode 276
Barb Maiberger

Send us a Text Message.

"In EMDR therapy, we're trying to help activate the client's own brain's knowingness how to heal." - Barb Maiberger

In today's episode, we have Barb Maiberger joining us to delve into the fascinating world of trauma therapy. Barb is an expert in the field and a passionate advocate for EMDR therapy. We'll explore how this transformative approach helps clients address past experiences that still affect them today. From understanding the role of the brain in trauma to the power of integrating the mind-body connection, Barb shares her wealth of knowledge and experience. We'll also touch on the importance of finding the right therapist, the impact of trauma on relationships, and the promising shift toward trauma-informed treatment in schools. Get ready for an eye-opening conversation that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the power of healing and transformation.
______________

Barb Maiberger is the founder and Director of the Maiberger Institute in Boulder, Colorado, where she trains counselors and mental health therapists from around the US in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

Barb is a dynamic instructor who engages and invites those who take her courses to bring their own professional experience, passion, and story to get equipped in EMDR to work with clients and handle real-life issues in a way that is immediately applicable and practical.

HELPFUL RESOURCES:
Episode 75 - Barb Maiberger & Dr. Arielle Schwartz, "Embodiment and Trauma"


ENGAGE THE RESTORING THE SOUL PODCAST:
- Follow us on YouTube
- Tweet us at @michaeljcusick and @PodcastRTS
- Like us on Facebook
- Follow us on Instagram & Twitter
- Follow Michael on Twitter
- Email us at info@restoringthesoul.com

Thanks for listening!

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

"In EMDR therapy, we're trying to help activate the client's own brain's knowingness how to heal." - Barb Maiberger

In today's episode, we have Barb Maiberger joining us to delve into the fascinating world of trauma therapy. Barb is an expert in the field and a passionate advocate for EMDR therapy. We'll explore how this transformative approach helps clients address past experiences that still affect them today. From understanding the role of the brain in trauma to the power of integrating the mind-body connection, Barb shares her wealth of knowledge and experience. We'll also touch on the importance of finding the right therapist, the impact of trauma on relationships, and the promising shift toward trauma-informed treatment in schools. Get ready for an eye-opening conversation that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the power of healing and transformation.
______________

Barb Maiberger is the founder and Director of the Maiberger Institute in Boulder, Colorado, where she trains counselors and mental health therapists from around the US in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

Barb is a dynamic instructor who engages and invites those who take her courses to bring their own professional experience, passion, and story to get equipped in EMDR to work with clients and handle real-life issues in a way that is immediately applicable and practical.

HELPFUL RESOURCES:
Episode 75 - Barb Maiberger & Dr. Arielle Schwartz, "Embodiment and Trauma"


ENGAGE THE RESTORING THE SOUL PODCAST:
- Follow us on YouTube
- Tweet us at @michaeljcusick and @PodcastRTS
- Like us on Facebook
- Follow us on Instagram & Twitter
- Follow Michael on Twitter
- Email us at info@restoringthesoul.com

Thanks for listening!

Barb Maiberger:

Barb Maiberger. It's good to see you again. Thanks for taking time for the podcast. Well, I'm really glad to be here today. And it's just wonderful that you've asked me to be here. Awesome. I want to start out with kind of the question that is, for the uninitiated to EMDR therapy. What is EMDR? Therapy? Well, that's a big question. In a simple way, I'm going to say anything that has caused you distress or symptoms that you're really struggling with, you can use EMDR therapy with, and it's a type of therapy to help people resolve trauma, you might have heard of PTSD, where people are traumatized by things. But I like to define a bigger where if anything's happening to you, where you left with these symptoms, and you, you don't know what to do with it, this work will help you move through it and feel more integrated whole, and people feel more empowered. So when people think of PTSD, they often think of veterans coming back from combat or catastrophes like earthquakes, tsunamis, sexual assault, but you're referring to just the normal distresses and stresses and aspects of life that kind of turned us upside down. Yes, so it's most known for and the research really supports working with those big things you just said, The War and natural disasters and rape and sexual abuse. And I think that's what people are most familiar with. But then those stressors of every day where maybe you lost someone, or an animal, and you're still grieving over years later, and it feels like it just happened yesterday, this person's kind of stuck in the past. And this work helps them move through it. So they feel more in their present. It's not that it takes it away, and they go, Oh, that never happened. It's like, okay, here it is. This horrible thing happened. And I'm okay now. So that that word stuck stuck in the past. That's a key word. And already, we're on this idea that it could be anything that gets us stuck in the past something as quote unquote, simple as losing a pet or an animal. Although for many people, that's a that's a very significant bond, maybe for many the most important bond they've had in their life. And something like that can keep people stuck.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

In the past, that you and I are of the generation where the old school model was with an issue like that you just go talk, talk, talk to a therapist, and hopefully someday kind of work it out. But you're suggesting that this EMDR therapy is something that can get people unstuck through the therapy itself?

Barb Maiberger:

Yes, it's a very different kind of therapy. So traditional therapy is what you were talking about the talk therapy, where I'm using a part of my brain that rationalizes make sense of things. And I can say, Well, okay, this thing happened to me, but I'm still overtaken with these emotions and my body, sometimes search trembling, and I feel out of control. And I don't know why. That's because this traumas held in a different part of the brain. And so this work activates that other part of the brain so that we can move through that heal it and integrate it with that knowledge that we have, from the talk therapy.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

And EMDR stands for eye movement, desensitization reprocessing therapy. And the key component of it is bilateral stimulation. And since you mentioned brain, talk to me about the bilateral stimulation, what that is, and kind of an overview of how that works.

Barb Maiberger:

So that's big question. We can break it down into two parts. Let's do that. So first, we have to get familiar with the parts of the brain to be able to go to that bilateral piece. So when we have a trauma, there's a part of the brain called the limbic system. And there's the amygdala and the hippocampus and the thalamus. And so the thalamus is this router. And it routes information. So something happens and the brain routes it to different parts of the brain for us to take action or do different things. When we get overwhelmed or stressed. It gets routed to the amygdala, and the amygdala is that place that goes danger warning, you gotta get out of here. This is bad stuff, this is bad. I'm gonna run I'm gonna fight something's got to happen here to keep me safe. And so when we get overwhelmed, that can happen. And sometimes we can integrate that we can't move past that we get stuck in that. And so example would be if someone comes back from the war, and they're going down the street and a siren goes off, boom, that siren triggers off that response of being back in the war is hitting that place in the amygdala where that place is unintegrated. And so it's as if the past is happening right now in the present. So people get really, really uncomfortable. And we have those symptoms of nightmares flash backs and sweating and feeling really panicky. And so this work when we do this bilateral stimulation, which is it with the eyes moving back and forth, or we can tap on the knees back and forth, or we have little pulsars that can go in the hands back and forth, or tones going back and forth in the ears. What we're hypothesizing now is that it stimulates this part of the brain that knows how to integrate this information. So if we have this unintegrated piece that's happened to us, this somehow this back and forth action, while I'm in the present moment, so I'm here now safe in the room going, Oh, I'm here in the room with Michael, this isn't happening right now, while this dual attention is going on in this action is going back and forth. While I'm thinking of something bad, the brain gets activated to do what it knows how to do. And so all those parts kind of come online, again, that went offline, because we were overwhelmed and stressed and we're in this amygdala. So it's really bringing it all together. So I can then move that unintegrated piece into different parts of the brain to go, alright, this is in the past. It's done. It's over. I'm safe now. I'm okay.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

And as you've done this therapy, and now you exclusively trained counselors to do this therapy, and you consult on cases with counselors. What kind of results have you seen, because my experience has been that this can be quite amazing and remarkable?

Barb Maiberger:

Well, it's twofold. I see changes in the therapists, as I'm training them. The other day, I was just talking to someone who said, What did I do before I knew EMDR therapy, like, how did I even do therapy, because she was seeing such profound changes in her clients. And what you see with clients is a change from, let's say, if I was raped, and I might be believing I'm powerless, and I'm not safe in the world. By the end of this work, you'll see them saying things like, I can make good choices, I'm strong, now I'm capable. And I never told them to say that that really came from inside their own being. So this wisdom comes forward that is truly profound. And many times it's brought me to tears, because I've seen these changes where people, they walk different, they talk different, and their lives literally change. So literally,

MICHAEL CUSICK:

that trauma or distress that's kind of locked into the part of the brain where it doesn't get processed, that's affecting people across the board, how they experience themselves, their thoughts and beliefs, the way that they relate to others,

Barb Maiberger:

and their posture. So it's, it's the whole body mind connection. Right. So what we think and feel is reflected in how we move in the world and how we move in the world is reflected in how we think and feel. And so if I'm walking around, going, I'm a loser. And I'm stupid, and nobody loves me, my shoulders might be, you know, collapsed, I might not make eye contact, I might have trouble making relationships that are meaningful. And when you work through these things that are stuck, you'll see people start lifting their head and their shoulders or come back, and they'll walk into the room differently. It's really a profound change.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

And because I've trained with you, I've heard you use the phrase that EMDR therapy allows the brain to heal itself, and that the therapist is obviously trained, but they're really just a channel and kind of creating the conditions for the brain to heal itself. Talk a little bit about how the brain heals itself.

Barb Maiberger:

Well, there is this theory, that adaptive information processing system that our our brain knows how to integrate external stimulation and internal stimulation. So what we sense in the world, whether it's cold, hot, the temperature, the sun's shining there, snowing, you know, sounds that we're hearing the smells, the taste, we're taking all that information in all the time. And then, of course, our own body sensations and emotional experiences of that. The brain knows how to integrate that. And so we have this way of learning what we need to learn to let go of what we don't need. But when we have a trauma that interrupts this adaptive information processing system, and so the system can't do what it knows how to do. And so in EMDR therapy, we're trying to help activate the client's own brains knowingness, how to heal. And so through that process, those unintegrated pieces become integrated.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

Who exactly should go To or seek out EMDR therapy?

Barb Maiberger:

Well, that's a great question because I think everybody should. What I'm so struggling with still in our society, Michael, is this stigma, that going to therapy, you must be crazy. And I've even heard in my training, some therapists say, Well, if I go get my own EMDR therapy, I'm telling my clients, I'm crazy. And I'm not in that camp at all, I think that we as human beings have our traumas are woundings, and the more that we work with them heal them, the more enjoyable life gets, and the more intimate our relationships can be more satisfying our jobs can be. So getting to know ourselves, I think, is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

So let's talk a little bit about some of the atypical ways that this trauma and distress plays out. There's obviously, we've both referred to the some of the major traumas. And I forget who it was that first talked about capital T trauma and small t trauma. But I see in my work, sometimes in marriages, when people are unaware of trauma, there's one or both persons that is, or in any relationship, any intimate relationship where somebody is being triggered, somebody will make a comment or a look. And the other person reacts through escalation through withdrawal. And they'll say later, you know, my heart started racing, in my face flushed, and my muscles got tight, and I just wanted to hit something, or my partner looked at me a certain way, and I just imploded inside. And I just wanted to withdraw. And what I'm seeing is that all of the communication skills in the world and you know, all of the insight in the world only makes a small dent in that in some cases, in doing EMDR, has actually helped people to be able to respond instead of react. So have you seen situations that are a little more like that, and not necessarily these capital T traumas,

Barb Maiberger:

you know, what you just said was so beautiful, and I want to add to that, first is that, you know, it's a perfect example of what I was talking about is that part of the brain, that's the rational brain, and I can give you all the tools to go, Okay, say it like this, and it'll be just fine. But my body's going ah, and that really is rooted in some historical pieces. So that when we're doing this work, we really want to get back to where was the beginning of this, which is usually rooted in our childhood. And a lot of times with couples when you take that trigger, and what we call in EMDR, therapy, lighting it up finding a way to kind of activate you. So you are uncomfortable and say, when's the first time you ever felt this way, and getting back into your childhood, a lot of times it goes back to mom or dad or a step parent or a teacher at school. And when we can find those places. And when we heal that, then it shifts what's happening in the current relationship. And then they don't experience that anymore. And they can use those tools that we just talked about, of shifting their communication and staying in relationship. So I think whenever we have something currently triggering us this word we're we're kind of using where we feel that that heart racing, or we want to withdrawal or we want to run away or we want to fight, when we take the time to get back into where this started and heal from that place. true healing can happen.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

It's interesting that you talked about past experiences like a situation in school, because in my work with men, and I'm sure it can happen with women, I'll hear someone's story or I'll read their, their paperwork, they filled out about their history. And nope, I had a great childhood, you know, nothing traumatic ever happened to me, that people are typically thinking about, you know, I didn't grow up in an alcoholic home or I didn't get beaten or something like that, when oftentimes, it's something subtle, and simple. And because we are able to just kind of move on and be okay. I was talking to someone recently who one of their most painful memories was two or three times as a young boy being chosen last on the baseball team, or not being picked in gym class. And our society says, you know, get over it grow up, but the brain and the the amygdala doesn't get over that. And, again, just tell me how EMDR can help somebody get over that when they may not have even been aware of it.

Barb Maiberger:

Well, it's really fascinating that many times when you start with something in this present day that's bothering them, and you find this way to light it up and float it back and get to those places of maybe I was picked last on the team a couple times. My Brain, the client's brain takes us there. And that's the beauty of this work is I don't tell you what it's connected to, I don't go Hey, Michael, I know that that must be connected to what you're struggling now, because you were pick glasses, you know, on the team. So there's this place where, when their brain takes them, their clients get this, oh my gosh, really, that that's connected. And when we begin this bilateral stimulation with this dual attention of, I'm in the room now, and I'm safe, and I'm doing this this work, clients get that knowledge coming in to go Oh, yeah, well, I've overcome that. I'm actually pretty cool person. And, you know, I'm doing some really great things right now and my life's good. And they can start putting it in the right category. And that information coming in resources, the client to be more resilient, and actually put that past in the past to say, that's over, it's done. And now, here I am,

MICHAEL CUSICK:

in the way that Francine Shapiro, who's the the inventor, slash founder of EMDR therapy, the way that she designed the protocols, formally is that it's a Past, Present Future protocol. So it's not just about healing the past and getting people unstuck. It's about helping them in the present and strengthening the connections of their brain. And that empowerment of self like, I'm an okay person, but also, to help people envision themselves living differently in the future. Talk about that. I love

Barb Maiberger:

that part of the process. And that, you know, it's really this integrative process of helping people be more adaptive in their lives. And so the let's just use this example that we were talking about, someone's getting triggered in their marriage, it floats back to this time, they were asked to be last on the the team. And you know, how could that even be meaningful here, but that that belief back in the childhood is, I'm unlovable, nobody wants me. And when they heal that and then go, Wait a minute, I'm pretty awesome. And I'm a cool person, and they bring that back up into the relationship with the marriage and go, Oh, this isn't about this other person. This was about me, and that that baseball person, or whoever, I Oh, that's my partner. Oh, I like my partner. And I'm a pretty cool person. And then we can say, hey, now when your partner looks at you like that, how would you like to behave, act and feel with this new belief, I'm pretty cool person. And it can shift the relationship dynamics so much, it's really beautiful.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

So that then envisioning that, and picturing how they'd like to be kind of gets imprinted into the brain and new pathways develop.

Barb Maiberger:

Yes. And part of our work is when we take things into the future is repeating them over and over and over, because that's how we learn, we learn through repetition. So if you think of a baby, they dropped the spoon many times, and you pick it up, he dropped the spoon, and eventually, one day they're holding it, we want to repeat things over and over. So that neural pathway gets stronger and stronger. And it's so easy for the brain then to go there.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

Some people are freaked out just by the idea of going to counseling or therapy at all. And I think they think, you know, we've probably both had clients in the past who walk in and expect to sit on a 14 style couch with their back to the therapist who has a clipboard, you know, saying Tell me about your mother or something like that. But I've had people walk into my office and say, Do you want me to lay down, stand up, etc. So there's a, there's this kind of mysterious element for people that haven't been to therapy, but walk me through. If someone comes to a counselor who's EMDR trained, what they can expect to happen, what might you tell your students, in terms of here's how to work with the client?

Barb Maiberger:

Well, I would say first, any client, looking for an EMDR therapist should interview a couple therapists to start with. You know, research supports that no matter what type of therapy you're doing, the connection you feel with that person is the most important thing. And I think that that's what people are afraid of is, is this person going to be judging me is this person going to, you know, have this bad negative thought of me. And you want to pick someone who you feel safe with, that you feel like you could be vulnerable with, because you're going to be telling them some things that are hard, and yet this person who's a therapist is holding a very loving space for you. And so I think that's the biggest thing I want people to walk away with is knowing that therapists walk in with a very loving space first that they actually do want to help what people can

MICHAEL CUSICK:

actually expect with an EMDR therapist, assuming that the person is loving and wants to be of help. People hear oh, well, there's wires that are involved in this and what do you mean? I'm not going to be hypnotized? Making my eyes go back and forth. worth?

Barb Maiberger:

Well, the first thing I always say is, you know, we're gonna get to know you and get to know your history and and what are the things that are bothering you. So we can pay attention to what we want to work on. But then when we introduce EMDR therapy, this crazy thing of the eyes going back and forth, or the tapping, or the pulse or the wires, whatever, then we want to make it user friendly for you. And so we start with things that feel good, like finding a place where you feel calm and relaxed, and giving you skills where you feel more in control and empowered. And as we build on that, we start introducing this bilateral stimulation, and you actually get to feel better. And as that builds, and you get stronger, then we can actually turn to the traumas, and turn our attention to that. Barb, what

MICHAEL CUSICK:

should someone look for in an EMDR? Therapist, because I've seen people out there that say they do EMDR, because they watched a five minute video on YouTube, which is really unfortunate. I did your training, which I'll talk more about in a minute, but it was a pretty rigorous 55 hour training. So how do people know they're getting somebody who's really qualified?

Barb Maiberger:

Well, I would say one, look for an emdria approved training, which is EMDR, International Association. And from that, then make sure that you're getting good consultation through the process. There are many trainings out there now it's kind of the flavor of choice, you want to say where you're getting a part of the training, and going, Okay, go out and just do it. And I think there's so many pieces to learn in doing good trauma treatment, that I put a lot of care and attention and intention into my trainings to make sure that no one falls through the cracks. I want people to succeed, and I want them to feel good about the work, since you

MICHAEL CUSICK:

touched on it. Tell me about the Mayberg or Institute, which is the organization that you're the founder and director of what's your vision with the Mayberg Institute?

Barb Maiberger:

Well, my mission has been to give the gift of EMDR therapy to as many therapists as I possibly can. Because when I get to see therapists change in how they're doing work, where they feel more meaning and purpose in what they're doing. They're more excited. And it's this huge web that's getting created. So I've trained now personally over 1000, therapists in EMDR therapy, so I'm, I'm kind of happy about that, because that's a huge web out there of healing that's happening. And then I, I offer this basic training to really give people the skills but then beyond that, I really offer different advanced courses where as you get into this work, more skills are needed to really enhance what you know. And my master's is in somatic psychology. And so I'm really into the mind body connection. And EMDR therapy, I really believe is a body centered therapy. But a lot of therapists aren't trained in body centered therapies. And so I've created all these advanced courses with wonderful teachers who I've gone to school with or admired their work. And I have a beautiful team of people that I work with, where we're trying to bring more skills and help therapists get more comfortable working with that body mind connection, because you've already mentioned this earlier, where I can think something, and I can think and think and think it, but if I don't learn how to integrate it through my whole being, it's just a thought.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

So tell me about the advanced trainings you do, because I understand there's trainings in EMDR therapy and addiction, as well as EMDR therapy and attachment. Yes, those

Barb Maiberger:

are two of the courses that I offer. addictions, we really look at, what is the underlying trauma and attachment wounding that drives the addictive behavior. And when we really heal the traumas, and the attachment, the addictive behaviors, calm down, that my need to actually do these behaviors, I don't have that need anymore, because I'm actually healed inside. So we're really about going deeper underneath the distress of the addiction, and getting to that core wounding.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

There's so many so many good books on addiction. But I credit you with turning me on to the book by Gabriel monta in the realm of hungry ghosts, where he talks about so many different aspects of addiction from the spiritual aspects of addiction to the brain wiring, the obvious chemical dependency issues, but he's one of the first people that I read that talks about the attachment aspect. That's underlying addiction.

Barb Maiberger:

I know I was so excited when I read that book, and I thought, This man is making a real change in the world. And when we get down to this early early attachment and What we're talking about in attachment is from age zero to three. And that's original bond with our mother or our primary caretaker who really bonded with us. And you know, fathers too, but there's that place of who's really caring for this baby. And when we don't get our needs met, as a baby, we're on our own. And when we're on our own, that can cause a lot of distress. And that's happening again, in that area of the amygdala, which we were talking about earlier. And so I go into this, nobody's there, but I don't have the part of my brain online yet to make sense of all these feelings. So I can have all of these big feelings and not understand it.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

What are some of the ways you see attachment issues playing out,

Barb Maiberger:

you can see that in any kind of intimacy issues and relationship, you might even see it in a problem at a job and you keep getting triggered with your boss. So any kind of relational pieces that you're struggling with, whether it's at work, whether it's with your intimate partner with this with friends, co workers, that can lead us to attachment work,

MICHAEL CUSICK:

Barb, tell me a little bit about your background, you have a unique background that brought you into doing psychotherapy.

Barb Maiberger:

Well, my undergrad degree was in modern dance, and I was a professional dancer for years. And once I was at a dance festival, I took a massage therapy course and I went some day when I can't dance anymore, I'm gonna do that. And well, I got injured, and I couldn't dance. And so I thought, well, well, I'm injured, I'll go learn this, you know, massage, and have another skill, so I can support myself dancing. And once I started school with massage therapy, I went, Oh, my gosh, I love this so much. I don't, I don't need to dance anymore. And I was off to the races, learning massage therapy. And I did that for about 18 years. And through that process, as I kept studying, I started studying more and more subtle energy. And I found that the more subtle, I was working with the body, people were starting to remember being sexually abused in their childhood. And I'd go, oh, I don't know what to do with this. So let's make nice here and go see your therapist, because I don't know what to do with this. And so eventually, that led me to getting my master's in somatic psychology, and really bringing the brain and the body together because I was so body oriented, to begin with. And so I went and got my master's at Naropa University. And through that process, I really had an emphasis on trauma. And I was really, because of this sexual abuse piece that I was experiencing, through helping people through massage, I went, I've got to learn how to work with this. And so that was really my emphasis is working with trauma. And then a couple years later, or while I was in school, this is kind of funny, had things were being said about EMDR therapy, and I was like, I'm not gonna learn this, because really horrible things were being said, and as somatic therapy, I was like, oh, it's gonna get stuck in your organs, and you're gonna have illness from him, like, why would I want to learn that? So I really put it way off. I wasn't going to learn it. And then a couple years later, a colleague, friend of mines took a workshop and she said, hey, you've got to learn EMDR therapy. It's very body centered. And I said, No, no, no, no, no. And she did a session on me and I went, Okay, I'm hooked this, this was a new experience that I had had, where I really felt that integration at the end that we'd been talking about earlier. And I just went out and started studying like crazy. And I was very fortunate that I found Molly garage here in Boulder, Colorado, and I started studying with her. And eventually she asked me to help her with her trainings. And she retired and I took over the trainings and is truly my passion right now. And I just I just love teaching this work.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

Give me other examples with somatic psychology of what kinds of therapies might be offered to help with the mind body connection.

Barb Maiberger:

Well, right now what you might hear Pat Ogden sensorimotor integration, or you might hear a Peter Levine somatic experiencing, he's written a couple books, she's written a couple books. They're the most famous sort of out there, but there's dance movement therapy, you could put yoga in there now yoga is becoming therapeutic and kind of a thing that's in the news. So there's lots of ways to start integrating the body with the mind.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

And all of this is really a shift. There's always been this undercurrent of the mind body, but it's being integrated more and more into psychology. And I think the biggest thing is it's being validated by science. So the quote unquote medical community is now validating it. But talk to me about I'm going all the way back from your work as a massage therapist where you're obviously very aware of people's bodies. And there's extensive anatomy and physiology that you have to learn into your somatic psychology degree, how you've seen the field of Counseling and Psychology shift more and more in this way. And is that a good thing?

Barb Maiberger:

Well, one, I want to say I'm really grateful to people like Bessel Vander Kolk, right now who is pretty famous in the trauma world. And he, you know, years ago, I heard him speak and he wasn't into the body mind connection. And through the years, he's really changed and shift and his book, The Body Keeps the Score out now, I think is really helping with this shift. But as I travel around the country, there are definitely pockets of areas that still aren't onboard that this is still Frou Frou, you and voodoo, and what are you doing out there, and there's no research to support it. And I just like to say that EMDR therapy does have a lot of research. And so it's well documented that it is, you know, effective with a lot of people. So I think that the field, I'm so glad that it is because we used to be looked at as the weird ones, like, what are you doing over there, you're moving and you're having people stand up and what what is that. But you know, sometimes when people really connect with their thinking and how their body is moving, it's a deeper experience. And they, they really appreciate it. By the end,

MICHAEL CUSICK:

I find that even people that love to come to therapy and talk or people on the other end who hate the idea of therapy and have a hard time talking or being vulnerable, that when they begin to understand that there's actually something in their brain that is stuck, that there's something that's not processed, that they go, oh, oh my gosh, okay, well, I can do that. So it's almost like going to the doctor to get an ultrasound treatment to help your back muscles relax.

Barb Maiberger:

And I think that when therapists give this information to their clients, the client feels less crazy. And they go, oh, oh, okay. My brain was wired to do this. Oh, it was wired to do this to protect me. It served me them. But now it's not serving me. It makes it less diagnostic or pathological and just kind of human nature.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

Right? Yeah, it's, it's helping shift from a pure pathology model of dysfunction and disorder, to we're all human. And we're all affected neurologically in our brain in a way that affects our experiencing and relating to the world.

Barb Maiberger:

You know, I really tried to do in my trainings of, you know, paying attention to your client's nervous system, and less with the label of, oh, they're bipolar, or they're borderline or they're whatever, and really going, who's sitting in front of you? And what is this person's distress in their nervous system? And how do you help them regulate their nervous system, because we are psycho biological regulators. And when we can understand that and work with the nervous systems, it's a pretty profound healing.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

I'm always surprised. And then again, I'm not that surprised that graduate schools, your average graduate school, this might have been different for you at Naropa. And with a somatic psychology degree, but graduate schools don't teach this. And by and large, they don't teach a practical behavioral understanding of the brain, you've got to get your degree and then go get this training. Do you see that shifting in the future?

Barb Maiberger:

Well, I hope so. I hope so. I still think that there is a strong emphasis on the cognitive work. There's very few schools that have somatic programs. So I'm hoping with the dialog opening up that that can start shifting,

MICHAEL CUSICK:

can you tell me, obviously, without using names or specific people, some of your success stories, either through stories you've heard from your students or in your work prior to becoming just a trainer and consultant?

Barb Maiberger:

Well, I worked a lot with clients who had domestic violence or sexual abuse in their childhood. And when I really helped them with the sexual abuse, where the the domestic violence, what I would see is they would get more empowered, make different choices in their life and feel less of a victim. I think when you've been victimized and you're stuck in that victim place, that actually the brain kind of sets a tempo where that keeps happening over and over and over. And when you heal that those kinds of things stop happening to you. It's kind of a weird thing that happens in our brain that way. And so what I found as people start making different choices in their life, they feel more empowered. They pick healthier relationships, things like that.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

It helps them to break cycles, right?

Barb Maiberger:

I've also seen a have, you know parents who've lost a child, which is one of the most horrific things you can possibly imagine? And I thought, How is this person ever going to heal from this, and I've seen the most amazing things, Michael, where the deceased become sort of a guardian angel to them. And the person becomes more at peace with this loss. And combined with that, that person through the good and in the good of the relationship versus all the pain. And so it's shifts their relationship to what happened.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

You have written a book called EMDR essentials. And I understand you're writing another book right? Now tell me about that.

Barb Maiberger:

Yes, I am co authoring this with Dr. Arielle Schwartz, who we have been teaching together for 17 years, and we met at Naropa University. And our passion is with these advanced EMDR workshops. So we're trying to bring those body centers skills and interventions to the masses, because we want people to have these skills. So we're really integrating EMDR therapy and somatic psychology. But the book is really practical with scripts in it to guide the therapist of how they can actually use these skills in the office with their clients.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

So it's a book for therapists, or is it a book for like EMDR essentials was a book that you wrote, really, for people to understand about EMDR. And it sounds like this book is more geared for therapists.

Barb Maiberger:

This book is geared for EMDR trained therapists that to enhance their skills that they've already learned. And yes, my first book was really to just walk people through who wants to find any of their therapists walk them through the process, what are all the steps? What can they expect, some stories that my clients were willing to share to show how this work could help them?

MICHAEL CUSICK:

What would you say to people that are doing counseling, or even in the middle of a counseling graduate program, that are either suspicious about EMDR? Or hesitant to get trained?

Barb Maiberger:

I would say talk to somebody who's been trained with me. So it's to see, you know, if you talk to a therapist who has been trained and loves EMDR therapy, and why do they love it? And what are they seeing so they can kind of squelch those fears?

MICHAEL CUSICK:

And then how would they go about choosing where to get trained, obviously, that's what you do. And I would highly recommend the Mayberg or Institute, I did the 55 hour basic training, I did a course on self care for therapists. I'm looking forward to both the addiction and the attachment courses. But how do you navigate all that since anybody nowadays can put together a program online?

Barb Maiberger:

True? I would say again, look at the referrals, a lot of my trainees come from direct referrals of people that I've trained, and they said, hey, you've got to train with BB look into the trainer, is the trainer going to follow you through all the pieces? Who are you really going to have? Who are you going to have as your consultant on the consultation hours? Because there's part of that 50 hour training? Is consultation? And who's going to provide that for you? And what are their skills? And and what are they going to provide for you? So ask a lot of questions about the training, and make sure you know, because sometimes, not all of the pricing is included in everything, or who's doing what,

MICHAEL CUSICK:

tell me about how EMDR was invented.

Barb Maiberger:

So Dr. Francine Shapiro was getting her doctorate degree in psychology. And she was observing herself one day while she was walking in the park. And she noticed if she was thinking of something disturbing, and her eyes were moving back and forth, that all of a sudden, it wasn't so disturbing. So she started experimenting and saying, Hey, Michael, bring up something disturbing, move your eyes back and forth. And they were people were like, What are you talking about? And so then she developed the eye movements, so follow my fingers with your eyes, and so that the eyes were going back and forth, but they were following the fingers. Through that she developed a protocol that could be researched, duplicated, done over and over and over, so that it could be researched. And so the protocol has developed over the years, and it's one of the highest research therapies out there right now.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

And is there a connection with the eyes moving back and forth, a lot of people might be thinking of rapid eye movement, if you watch a child or an individual sleeping, there's something restorative about while we go into that deep level of sleep about the eyes moving back and forth.

Barb Maiberger:

Yes, we used to think that during REM sleep, that was when this healing would occur with the that the eye movements were creating sort of a REM sleep. But now what we're hypothesizing it's more about an orienting response to safety. And so as we're doing the dual awareness, I have one foot in the present one foot in the past while my eyes are going back and forth. A lot of things are happening at once. But here I have one foot in the present one from the past, eyes are going back and forth. While I'm thinking of this disturbance, it helps the brain understand that now is different than then, and activates different parts of the brain. So it's more of the orienting response right now that we're looking at,

MICHAEL CUSICK:

there been so many changes in science in general, not even talking about psychotherapy in particular, where now whether it's in the New York Times, or Huffington Post, or an article on Facebook, you see brain, brain, brain brain, it's like the new buzzword. What do you think are some of the most important changes about what we're learning about the brain and the implications of that for healing?

Barb Maiberger:

Well, I think we're still in the beginning phases. And I'm so glad that the neuroscience is developing. And I think even what I'm going to be teaching about EMDR therapy in 10 years might be different from the information that we're getting. So I think what's beautiful is, the more we know what's happening, the more we can intervene and make different changes. So an example would be, you know, trauma informed treatment for schools. That's a big thing right now, which I'm really excited about, where if kids are getting dysregulated at school, and they're punished, it's really a trauma response that's happening, and they're in their amygdala is again, here we are talking about that amygdala again. And these poor kids can't regulate themselves. So when you punish them, you're punishing them in a way that's recapitulating, the trauma essentially. So as more our society becomes more trauma informed, we can start then doing different kinds of interventions, which could be healing in a much earlier stage of people's lives, which I think could help the world in amazing ways.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

That's exactly what I was thinking, with the assumption that our world seems to be more traumatizing than ever. And somebody might argue, well, you know, a caveman living in the woods being attacked by a saber toothed Tiger, that's pretty traumatic. But we can now on our smartphone, watch trauma happening in Syria, or watching, you know, refugees that are drowning in that kind of thing. So we're vicariously experiencing trauma. But as I think about and as you're discussing now, healing one individual heals, potentially a family, you know, a parent, with domestic violence and addict and healing that one individual, literally at the neurological level, can begin to affect families, communities, systems. And it really is quite, quite encouraging and exciting that, that this is a way of healing the world.

Barb Maiberger:

I think it's an exciting time for us. And I love how you just put it in all of those categories, Michael, but that one, person healing can really have an impact on a level that we can't even begin to comprehend.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

Where have you seen that play out like that kind of concentric circle, I think of a stone being dropped into a pond, and the circle is going out?

Barb Maiberger:

Well, I, I kind of think of it, but out of being a teacher. And I see, you know, I just was working with a therapist in North Dakota, who I trained. And she just sent me this text of how excited she was that this big change happened for her client will you know, then this therapist changed that client with that client, and that client now is going to go back into their life and impact their world. And so that web is just beyond what I can even imagine how big it's going.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

There's an old quote from anonymous, who's said that no individual raindrop ever considers itself responsible for the flood. And there's a there's a flood in our world. And as people get whole and healed, it pushes back the flood.

Barb Maiberger:

Well, and I think that, like you said earlier, we're so in a society so aware of all these traumas more than ever, and how do we even regulate ourselves to hear these things and be with these things and ground ourselves? We're in such a fast society right now. And we're supposed to go faster and faster and faster. And, you know, you know, coming from my workshops that sometimes I go, we got to really slow down. And that's really hard to do. It's challenging for myself, you know, it's really easy. I go, I take such good care of myself. And then I get stressed and boom, all my self care goes out the window, and I'm in this high stress, and I'm going 100 miles per hour. And I'm not serving anyone, especially myself when I do that. So when we get more aware, more awake, more conscious, have more skills, we can keep, like you said impacting on this bigger level.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

I'd like to ask a question that I want to address in terms of clients in therapy, as well as counselors. What would you say to first an individual or couple that's in therapy, and they're not getting going anywhere, they've done three 510 sessions. And maybe they've even gone to multiple counselors and not gotten anywhere. The other side of the coin is what would you say to the counselor who's working with an individual or couple, and they feel stuck with those clients?

Barb Maiberger:

This? This is a good question. So I would say, example of the couple who's feeling stuck with their therapist, a, you there is not the right therapist or the right modality for them. And to really find someone that they connect with that they trust. And so, you know, keep trying, because you may not have a good therapist who's giving you what you need, they may not have the skills that you need. I would also say, as the therapist when you get stuck, that's an opportunity moment, that's an opportunity moment to either get more skills for yourself, or refer your clients to the person who does have the skills that could help these people. I think sometimes it's hard because the therapist, we get attached and we go, I need to help these people. And then when we get stuck, it's like, oh, I'm failing them. But what do I do, but I don't want to lose them because I want to help them. And sometimes we have to be humble, and go, I'm not the right person to be facilitating this, or I need to go get some more skills, so I can facilitate this. I can't tell you how many times people come into my training, where they've said, I've referred so many people, so many of my clients to somebody who does EMDR therapy, and then I don't have that client anymore, because they're making success with this other therapist. I hear the story all the time. And so that actually brings them in many times for the training.

MICHAEL CUSICK:

I've also heard, and I've actually done this before I got the EMDR therapy training, of referring a client for EMDR therapy. And then with the breakthrough neurologically, they're then able to process things if they still need to maybe kind of integrating their story connecting some of the dots working on relational issues. They can do that in a whole new way because of the healing that's occurred in their brain.

Barb Maiberger:

Yes. And again, we keep talking about those changes happening. And I think it comes down to does the therapists have the skills to lead you there?

MICHAEL CUSICK:

One of my favorite book titles is by James Hillman, the union psychologist. And I think he wrote this book about 20 years ago, and the book title is called, we've had 100 years of psychotherapy, and the world's getting worse. Is that a great title? It's a great title. It's one of the most daunting titles, but do you think that that psychotherapy has made the world a better place?

Barb Maiberger:

Well, I think so, yes. But I think that there are times where if you don't feel like you're moving and progressing, then maybe you're not doing the right kind of therapy. And I guess because I come from this body centered place, and I've seen amazing things change for people, I do believe in the change in that it is helping the world. Well, I

MICHAEL CUSICK:

I come from a religious background where I serve people in that way. And when I got trained in EMDR, I was in kind of a vocational crisis where I didn't know if I wanted to go back to that or to integrate that. And when I've begun to understand about the brain and experience this, it's just opened up a whole new VISTA and I have a whole new passion for helping people through therapy. So I want to say thank you for what you do. Thank you for your training. And thank you for your enthusiasm today. No,

Barb Maiberger:

thank you for having me. This has been just a lot of fun.