First Responders receive over 35 hours of trauma informed clinical groups per week. This is not including outside activities/outings, fellowship meetings and tech led groups. In addition, first responder clients receive weekly individual therapy. This often ends up being more when family sessions are included or with the multiple check-ins that are done on a weekly basis.
Deer Hollow’s First Responder Trauma Program is an intensive group focused program. Research shows that there is more benefit to groups than there are to individual sessions based on the factors of common humanity, validation, interpersonal effectiveness, compassion, peers challenging each other and the need for vulnerability that dramatically changes the first responder clients treatment outcome for the better. The group formula utilized is proven to be the most effective trauma-informed treatments available based on the research of Bessel van der Kolk, MD. The primary issue in resolving traumatic stress is to regain balance between the emotional and logical parts of the brain so that the first responder clients can feel in charge of their emotions, choices and life. All of the groups work together to achieve this objective and they cross over into each over through vocabulary and concepts both in the therapeutic milieu as well as in the language used in the residence and with the Mental Health Tech staff.
Who We Serve
EMS and Medics
Active and Retired Military Veterans
The evidence-based groups that we facilitate are:
DBT Skills – to assist in handling emotional dysregulation more effectively; it is targeted at deescalating the amygdala. During the client’s stay, they get the skills from all four DBT modules. DBT skills groups are done three times weekly.
CPT – (Cognitive Processing Therapy) – this is the evidence based, trauma-focused model of CBT, it is targeted at helping the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC). The intention is to allow the client to think more logically by challenging stuck points/unhealthy beliefs about the world, self and others that thy have developed to make sense of their traumatic experiences and are thereby keeping them stuck. CPT is done three times weekly.
Mind Body Bridging (MBB) – teaches the clients to bridge the gap between the emotional amygdala and the logical MPFC by doing mapping and stimulating the Index System (I system) to allow the clients opportunities to slow the I system down naturally by learning to identify manufactured stories and requirements that cause hyper-arousal. Mind Body Bridging is done twice weekly.
Shame Resiliency – shame is the largest predictor of relapse and lack of wellness as well as the most common feeling associated with trauma, using the teachings of Brene Brown clients are taught shame resiliency skills to live an authentic, wholehearted lives. Shame resiliency is facilitated twice weekly.
Psychodrama – experiential group using the teachings of Zerko Mereno & Tian Dayton to bring closure to trauma wounds. Group begins with a warm up and then clients who are warmed up enough can volunteer to do an enactment about something painful needing tending, the group then shares their experiences about the enactment and then closes with gratitudes or affirmations. Psychodrama is facilitated twice weekly.
Self-Compassion & Radical Acceptance – building self-esteem doesn’t work, studies show that it actually causes relapse. Self-compassion is the most effective means of countering shame and negative feelings, which are directly correlated with mental wellness, trauma recovery and sobriety. Using the teachings of Kristin Neff and Tara Brach, clients are taught the requirements of self-compassion (mindfulness, self kindness and common humanity) and radical acceptance through experiential exercises. This group is offered once weekly.
Mediation/Mindfulness – using Pema Chodron and Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work, clients are taught how to take the critical pause to find fresh alternative to the unhealthy habits they have been engaged in to numb and run away from their emotions. This includes Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and gaining control over heart rate variability through breath work and learning body sensations. MBSR is facilitated three times weekly.
Process Groups – experiential groups to bring the here and now into the session and focuses on client topics needing exploration without a set curriculum. Process is done three times weekly.
Community – clients bring up concerns/issues with the staff and programming, they then offer feedback/concerns to each other with group ending with peer affirmations. This is an opportunity for clients to have the harder, more challenging conversations they struggle having outside of group and in their “real” life. It teaches them interpersonal effectiveness. This is done weekly.
Internal Family Systems (IFS) – IFS takes the work of Dr. Schwarz to address the parts within the clients so that they can be more in balance. Client’s protective “parts” known as managers and firefighters are often over-functioning as a means to protect the vulnerable exiles. IFS teaches the clients how to create space and unburden the parts that need to show up more or less dominantly. This is done weekly.
Music Imagery and Process – facilitated by a dual licensed clinician, music imagery is an emotion driven group where music is used to catalyze connections and insight. Music imagery is done twice a week.
Schema Therapy – using Dr. Young’s model, clients are taught their most common schemas that act as life traps keeping them stuck in old patterns of behavior. Schema therapy is done once weekly.
Self-Regulation – utilizing Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and self directed EMDR techniques in a group setting, clients learn skills on noticing triggers and using physiological tapping and bi-lateral stimulation to create an internal calm. Self-regulation group is taught weekly.
Yoga – a primary regulation technique in assisting traumatic healing is managing heart rate variability and the most effective means of this is done with yoga. Through yoga the clients learn the subtle signs of their bodies as well as how to manage breathing and heart rate variability to assist in limbic system regulation. Yoga is done three times weekly.
Other Innovative Program Offerings
BIO Sound Therapy for PTSD
Bio-Sound is a hybrid of Biofeedback and Music Therapy, both of which are evidence-based practices. Biofeedback in one form or another has been used by Tibetan Monks, Yogis and others for over 5,000 years! Yogis have proven to be able to slow down their heart rate, increase or decrease their body temperature, and decrease their need for oxygen! Yoga, Meditation, Chanting and other mind/body self-regulating and balancing techniques have been used instinctively for thousands of years.
By combining sound, breath and rhythm, Chanting, or using a mantra during meditation is believed to channel the flow of energy through the mind-body neural pathways and balancing brain hemisphere imbalances. Himalayan Singing Bowls have been used for thousands of years for sound vibration believed to create a brain balance and emotional healing. Using music or sound as a healing medium dates back thousands and thousands of years. The label “Music Therapy” was developed during WWI and WWII, when music was used in Hospitals as way to help wounded soldiers to deal with traumatic war injuries. Learn More
EMDR THERAPY- (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR is an evidence-based therapy technique developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987 to address traumatic memories. She posited a theory that when someone experiences a trauma, it is so disturbing to the mind that it overwhelms the brains ability to process and store the information correctly as a memory and the experience becomes “stuck” in the Limbic system (the system responsible for flight, fight or freeze reactions to stress). Learn More