Local therapist brings rapid treatment process to region

2013-06-02T19:40:00Z 2013-06-07T12:26:05Z Local therapist brings rapid treatment process to regionVanessa Renderman vanessa.renderman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3244 nwitimes.com

Every night before she went to sleep, Jane had a ritual.

She checked all the closets. She locked every door. She made sure a hammer and can of Mace were near her bed, giving her the peace of mind to doze off. But sleep only led to nightmares.

"I was basically living in my own personal hell," she said.

Jane — whose real name is being withheld to protect her privacy — is in her 30s and was a victim of childhood sexual abuse by a relative.

As a child, therapy was not much help. Last year, she returned to counseling, this time through Regional Mental Health Center.

Her therapist suggested she connect with Michael Cortina, director of outpatient services for the mental health center in Merrillville. He is the only certified practitioner of rapid trauma resolution therapy in Indiana.

The therapy, developed by Florida therapist Jon Connelly, is geared to people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder who experienced a traumatic event or who deal with anxiety, guilt or frozen grief, among other conditions, Cortina said.

"It is absolutely revolutionary," he said. "It eliminates the negative effect and emotional distress of that trauma in one session."

The therapy has drawn criticism from skeptics, but Cortina said the success rate speaks for itself.

"The success rate for trauma and related guilt specifically with me has been 95 percent," he said.

He hopes the therapy can be used with members of the military returning from war.

The treatment is uplifting and involves laughter. The patient does not realize the therapist is sending messages to the subconscious during the session.

"You're using very select language and purposeful communication in this approach," Cortina said. "The end result is that emotions are quickly transformed and change is immediate."

In one session, the treatment flips a past emotional memory into a memory of an emotion.

"You're basically able to think or talk about the event with absolutely no emotional distress," he said.

The therapy is not one-size-fits-all, and some people need to continue in general therapy to address other issues. 

Jane is a believer.

As it was happening, she didn't think the therapy was working.

"I went home that night and said, 'I'm not sure. What I just did was a bunch of hippie therapy crap,'" she said.  

But two weeks later, she realized she hadn't been having nightmares. Slowly, she removed the weapons from her room at night and unlocked her door.

"Apparently he said something my subconscious really needed to hear," Jane said.

She is being weaned off medicine for anxiety and depression. "People who know me see a huge change in me," Jane said. September will mark one year since treatment.

"I feel so confident," she said. "I just hope people will give it a chance."

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