Michele Rosenthal – Getting to the root cause of PTSD and healing emotional stress – #Podcast 63

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Dr. Justin Marchegiani and today’s guest, Michele Rosenthal, talk about everything PTSD. From identifying who gets posttraumatic stress disorders to discussing strategies to help with PTSD recovery. Michele speaks about the importance of being ready to go through the recovery process in order to succeed.

heal_your_ptsdMichele also shares with us her wounded healer journey and how she was able to recover from PTSD with her non-pharmaceutical approaches in this podcast interview. Learn about hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming and how these can significantly aid in PTSD recovery.

In this episode, topics include:

7:53 approach and techniques to support healing

11:48 hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming

18:45 tension and trauma-releasing exercises and power postures

22:48 breath work and breathing exercises

25:38 meditation and coaching

 

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Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Hey, it’s Dr. Justin.  Welcome back to Beyond Wellness Radio.  Today I have Michele Rosenthal on and Michele has just come out with her book, Heal Your PTSD.  She is a PTSD or post stress disorder expert and again, Michele is an award-winning blogger at PTSD Blogger.  She’s a best-selling award-nominated author.  She’s the host of the program, Changing Directions, and the founder of HealMyPTSD.com.  She’s a former faculty member of the Clinical Developmental Institute for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center.  Michele is also a trauma survivor who struggled with PTSD stress order for over 25 years.  Then she’s launched her successful healing rampage program.  Now Michele’s been 100% free of PTSD symptoms for almost a decade and we’re talking about her book, Heal Your PTSD.  Well, Michele, welcome to the show.

Michele Rosenthal:  Thank you so much, Dr. Justin, for having me and I appreciate your focus in this area because it’s so important especially today, September 11.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Totally. I–I agree.  Well, tell a little bit more about yourself and how you got into this niche.

Michele Rosenthal:   I–I lived the niche.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   In 1981, I was just a 13-year-old kid living a very normal, very fine life, and I ended with a run-of-the-mill infection.  The doctor gave a run-of-the-mill antibiotic–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:    And what happened after that was anything but run-of-the-mill.  It was–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Got it.

Michele Rosenthal:   Undisclosed. Unknown to us.  I had an allergy to the medication–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   And so I ended with toxic epidermal necrolysis syndrome, which is a fancy way of saying that the medications worked its way out of my body through the skin and turned me essentially into a full body burn victim.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Wow.

Michele Rosenthal:   So over the period of a few weeks in a quarantine burn unit hospital room, I lost 100% of the first two layers of skin, and that could traumatize just about anybody.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, my gosh!  Alright, so we typically we think of like these posttraumatic stress disorders–we kind of associated them with war and battle but it sounds like you came about this from–from a different angle.

Michele Rosenthal:  You know–excuse me, that’s just a great point because we do–the media makes it seem like the only people who have PTSD are our veterans.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And I highly respect them.  I’ve worked with them.  I work hard to help them.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  They are so important in our PTSD community and yet they are a portion of the PTSD community.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Actually speaking, 1 in 3 cancer survivors end up with posttraumatic stress disorders, 1 in 4 heart attack and stroke victims, domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, car accidents, natural disasters.  Posttraumatic stress disorder can come from anything.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.  So looking at that, like where’s that line cross from just encountering a really crappy situation for it being actual a–a PTSD situation.  How–how does that line get drawn?

Michele Rosenthal:  I think that’s a very personal line.  Up to 70% of all US adults will have some kind of major trauma in their lifetime.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  But only 20% will end up with posttraumatic stress disorder and for those of us that do get stuck there, it’s a combination of personality, history, childhood programming, the biology of trauma, how trauma affects your brain, the neurophysiological response that you have to trauma.  So a lot of different factors come in to play to–to create your post-trauma response, and for some people that means PTSD and for another–really the majority of people that means moving through a post-trauma transition and then being free and moving on.  Or for those of us who get stuck, it’s a variety of factors that hold us there.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Got it.  And it’s really interesting because you’ve kinda gone through that wounded healer type of journey where you were 13 you had this allergic reaction, you had this post–this posttraumatic event.  So you’re 13, you lost your first 2 layers of skin via this allergic reaction.  What happened next with you and how did you–how did you deal with it?

Michele Rosenthal:   It was incredibly hard.  You know, this is such a rare illness.  Only 1 in 2 million people end up with it.  None of my doctors–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Wow.

Michele Rosenthal:   Had ever seen it.  And–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Well, I’m looking at your pictures today, I mean, you seem like you–you must have made a 100% full recovery.

Michele Rosenthal:   You’re so right and I’m so lucky because not everybody looks that way.  I–I was very fortunate.  I had great care.  My parents were amazing.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And what happened to me really that destroyed me was more what happened afterward, I–you know, you survive a trauma any way you can.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And I had a near-death out-of-body experience and an enormous amount of pain and when I came out of the hospital, the doctors told me you won’t survive this again.  So you are living in a body that you have to be very careful with–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And I thought, “Oh, my God.”  And Dr. J, think about it.  When you were 13, what kind of coping mechanisms did you have for major trauma?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Wow. I mean, not much.  I remember being 13, you didn’t have the confidence, the self-awareness, you relied a lot on your parents. Yeah, that’s a tough situation to be in.

Michele Rosenthal:   You’re so right and so I came out of the hospital not really knowing how to cope–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And very unable to process and all I wanted was to get as far away from that experience as possible and so when I started exhibiting posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms which happen very, very soon after I–I was released from the hospital, nobody recognized them.  It was the early 1980s.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   PTSD only became a–a diagnostic criteria that was recognized in 1980–this was 1981 and it was only being applied to the military at that time.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Michele Rosenthal:   So there’s a psychiatrist that my parents took me to said, “Oh, she’s resilient.  She’s a kid.  She’ll bounce back.”  But I didn’t.  I descended into place of anxiety and depression and mood swings and frequent rage and nightmares–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And insomnia.  And for the next 24 years, thought that that was who I was.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Michele Rosenthal:   I thought I–you know, some people are supposed to be crazy and I’m one of them.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.  So basically, you knew you were going to this PTSD event because of the linger depress–the lingering depression and anxiety and mood stuff that didn’t just quite go away after the experience.  Is that kinda how you knew something else was deeper?

Michele Rosenthal:  No, actually. I mean, I wasn’t conscious enough to know that or–or mature enough.  I really–I really just thought this is who I am.  I didn’t understand that it was PTSD until I was so dysfunctional.  I had lost my job.  I was floundering in life.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   And–and I started looking at, “Okay, I need help.” And–and when I started getting into the “I need help” process–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   And researching the symptoms that I had, little by little the literature led me to PTSD and it was at that time that I actually took a self-test we have on the HealMyPTSD.com website, a self-test for PTSD–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  It’s actually the one I took when I was in recovery and then I took that to a trauma-trained professional and said, “What is this?”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:   And–and from there I got my diagnosis and–and started recovery.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Got it.  Well, we see with our troops today, a lot of the–the mainline therapy is for PTSD out there–a lot of them stem around pharmaceuticals and SSRIs and such.  So how did your approach to get better differ from a lot of the mainline therapeutic techniques?

Michele Rosenthal:  It–it didn’t, because there–there–there’s no one way to heal–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  PTSD and it doesn’t necessarily change depending on what your original–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Trauma was. Because my original trauma was medical and related to a medication, I know you’ll understand when I tell you–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yup.

Michele Rosenthal:   I didn’t wanna have anything to do with pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:   Because I was terrified.  So–so I did it, you know, hardcore which was not easy.  But–but I–I really think we overprescribe medication–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  For PTSD recovery.  And I’ve worked with clients who, you know, I–I actually my very first client came to me.  She’d been in 3 medications for 10 years and her psychiatrist and psychoth–psychologist had told her, “You can’t heal PTSD. You just have to learn to live with it and we’ll keep upping your medication,” and that made her unable to do anything.  So I–I think there’s a place for pharmaceuticals–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  But that’s at the extreme and they’re only to be used to allow you to be functional enough to do the work of recovery.  And if you can avoid them, I and many other professionals really promote that you do.  Because getting off of those medications is–is a thing all by itself.  It’s not easy.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right, right.  Well, I know there are a lot of good techniques out there to help deal with stress.  I know EMDR or the eye movement desensitization techniques, EFT or these various tapping techniques, also talk therapy.  I also see a lot of patients that come in with PTSD and we run adrenal testing and they’re adrenals are shot.

Michele Rosenthal:   Mmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  They’re at total stage 3 adrenal fatigue and they have a hard time managing and dealing with and adapting to stress.  So what techniques did you use–also talk therapy, too–what techniques did you use that found to be, you know, the biggest support for you in healing?

Michele Rosenthal:  I started as many of us do in talk therapy–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And got into behavior therapy–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  Which–which I think is so important.  It gives you a good foundation for learning how to consciously be aware of what’s your feeling and why and to put words to the chaos–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  That’s in your head and–and share those words so it gets out of you and into the world.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Which allows you to–to reclaim a certain amount of control.  So I started there and then we use many of the things that–that you’ve referenced, EMDR, EFT, thought-feel therapy–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yup.

Michele Rosenthal:  Tapas acupressure technique.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  Chiropractics.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   I–I would try anything.  What I found in my recovery was all of those that worked with the conscious mind and the energy processing were great and they have their place and I got functional.  I could go back to work and that was fantastic.  The problem was I still had all my symptoms.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   They were just modulated and I was better able to manage them.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   And–and so I discovered later, just by trial and error, what I believe now is so important to understanding recovery, which is this, that your mind is divided into your conscious and your subconscious.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  Let’s just say those predominant ways, and you’re conscious mind is 12% of your brain.  It’s–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:  Your short-term memory, your logic, your analysis, your reasoning.  And your subconscious mind is 88% of your brain.  It’s all of your long-term memory.  It remembers everything that’s ever happened to you.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:  It drives 100% of your behaviors based on the beliefs that you hold.  So any recovery to be successful and truly freeing, I believe, has to use 100% of your brain.  Not just the traditional, but also the alternative processes that access the subconscious mind.  Things like hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:  Those kind of processes that incorporate both sides of the mind.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So which techniques for you made the biggest difference in re-wiring that subconscious?

Michele Rosenthal:   Actually hypnosis and NLP, neuro-linguistic programming.  And so much did they impress me that I went on and got trained in them and now I use them with a lot of my clients and I see the benefits over and over.  Partly I think they’re useful because you remain totally in control. I know that’s not, you know, what everybody thinks about hypnosis.  But hypnosis is really just a way of altering your focus so that you can engage the subconscious mind, and we actually go in and out of hypnosis all the time when we’re watching a movie, when we’re going an activity and we don’t realize how much time has gone by.  That’s an altered state of focus.  That’s hypnosis.  So your brain is already doing that all the time.  With hypnosis and hypnotherapy, we actually use the process to help engage the subconscious mind to talk to it in its language, which is a language of symbol and metaphor and story and suggestion.  So you remain completely in control.  You can accept or reject anything that a hypnotherapy says but it’s a–a gentle way to help the subconscious mind, where we start reframing perspectives, beliefs and events in a way that brings relief.  So I–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:  I love that and I love neuro-linguistic programming because you–you don’t have to be an altered state.  It just–it uses language to literally change the structure of the neuro pathways of the brain.  So you put those two things together and–and there are two very gentle ways of working no matter what your comfort level is.  I–most people can find one or the other that is useful to them.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, I use–I use NLP, neuro-linguistic programming and various hypnosis programs daily.

Michele Rosenthal:   Mmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I use a technology called Zen Frames where I have these various NLP programs that involve hypnosis and I wear these–these glasses that produce various wavelengths to the eyes and I find that’s very helpful and I’ve lots of different programs that I do for, you know, motivation or for self-improvement, and I think NLP is profound, very phenomenal.  How do you apply it?  Like let’s say, can you just kinda just give the average person at home just a visualization of what NLP is?

Michele Rosenthal:   Sure, ab–absolutely.  That’s a great question.  Neuro-linguistic programming speaks to the fact that your brain represents your world in 3 dominant ways.  Sight, sound and feeling.  And it–neuro-linguistic programming puts together neuro, how your brain represents the world with language, the linguistic, and programming and then it helps re-program the brain.  So for example, I have–I’ll give you an example from somebody I worked with last week.  I have a client who child–child sexual abuse survivor–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And has a huge fear of bathtubs.  So you can talk and talk and talk about your fear of bathtubs and why, I mean, she knows why–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:   She has a fear of bathtubs.  She was abused in a bathtub.  But that makes it incredibly hard for her to take a bath.  So–and–and she likes bathing rather than showering so she wants to be able to take a bath and be unafraid.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   And so what we do in NLP is instead of talking and talking and talking about it, we take the–the feeling and the image that that creates in the brain and we literally start changing the image.  So for example, when we have a–a fearful feeling, that creates an image of the brain that can be totally realistic or abstract, it doesn’t matter, but it creates an image in the brain and then we can change–that image is usually in Technicolor.  It’s usually very big–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:  It’s usually very close.  We can start changing those kind of elements which are called submodalities.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:   So we can shrink that picture, change it to black and white, move it from in front of you to behind you.  We change all the different ways that that feeling is being represented in that picture–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   And by the time we’re done with that process, you’d be amazed how the feeling shrinks and is eliminated and how it doesn’t come back because we’ve literally re-wired the way that scenario is existing in the brain.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, I totally agree.  I mean, I do that exercise in my patients sometimes. We’ll take a really bad memory and then we’ll–we’ll shrink it down. We’ll–

Michele Rosenthal:  Mmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  We’ll blink it black and white.  We’ll put some circus music in the background.  We’ll–we’ll zip if forward and backwards really fast, and it’s like you’re flattening these neurons so when these neuro connections go to–go to essentially fire again, they’re quite not firing the same way, right?

Michele Rosenthal:   Exactly.  And you know, the whole use it or lose it neurons that fire together, wire together–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Idea of neurology and how neurogenesis works and how neuro pathways are strengthened or weakened.  So when we put all of the science together with this really simple seeming process–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   It’s amazing what can happen.  It sounds like you’re doing great work with that.  I wish I’d known you during my PTSD recovery.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, I know.  I hear you, I mean, I’ve–I’ve seen a lot of practitioners myself, more just for human performance.  I work with a couple of people that combine NLP with hypnosis and–and tapping and EFT.

Michele Rosenthal:   Mmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So we’ll go into various NLP states and where those emotions come up, we’ll kinda tap on some of those points as we go through the NLP, you know, visualization and such.  So I’ve tried combining them and I think it works great.  Have you tried combining them at all?

Michele Rosenthal:  I do.  I use hypnosis and NLP together all the time.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Do you combine the tapping at all, too?

Michele Rosenthal:  I don’t.  I’m not trained in the tapping.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   So I haven’t.  But I can see that it absolutely would work.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, I’ve seen it work phenomenal and I find that, you know, a lot of your conventional psychologist, psychiatrist or a way author, typically more just in the drug interventions but most of the psychologists, they’re just only working on the conscious mind, just the talking, and I feel like these type of therapies really get below the surface like you said.

Michele Rosenthal:   I think that’s so true and we should also add into this, the somatic therapy.  It’s like somatic experiencing, tension and trauma-releasing exercises, the things that really speak to how the body is holding the trauma–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:  And seeking to release it to.  I–I–there’s so many ways to approach the recovery process that are stronger and more to the point than talking about it.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Can you talk about some of those exercises?  Like is there something that our listeners could do right now if they’re not driving or if they’re in a good spot?  Could they do an exercise?

Michele Rosenthal:   Like a–like a NLP exercise?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, you just mentioned an exercise a minute ago just–

Michele Rosenthal:   Oh, tension and trauma releasing–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:   Exercises–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Developed by David Berceli.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Okay.

Michele Rosenthal:   He–I–I’m–I can tell you what he’s told me because I’ve interviewed him.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, great.

Michele Rosenthal:   But to really do this, you would need to follow up and–and connect with–with him.  I think it is–it’s traumaprevention.com, I think it’s his website.  But he–he has an interesting story.  He was administering aid in–in a–in I think a Middle Eastern country and was very traumatized by the war that was going on and he noticed that when we curled himself into a ball, and then allowed his body to release, he was able to relieve some of the stress and the tension.  And then he developed that into an entire modality that he teaches people, so that they can help their body learn to tense and release in ways that relieve the trauma.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.  Yeah, that makes sense.  Are you familiar with any of Amy Cuddy’s work.

Michele Rosenthal:   Yes, power postures.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, that’s what–

Michele Rosenthal:   I love them.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, can you talk about some of her work and how–how posture and how you hold your body is important to recovery and your–your emotion and your subconscious?

Michele Rosenthal:   Absolutely, definitely.  And this is one of the main points that we make in–or that I make in Heal Your PTSD.  The book is all about chunking down recovery to find the little things that work for you and power posture is a great example of that.  Because power posture, literally we know that testosterone reduces cortisol.  When we’re in a high stress state like PTSD, your cortisol is usually elevated.  So any time that we want to make that shift from powerless to powerful, which is at the base of PTSD recovery, we learn to do that on a daily basis.  Repetition is how the brain learns.  So the more often you can repeat a process to teach the brain how you want it to be, the more often you will be successful, and power posture is a great way for–to do that.  Because what Amy Cuddy discovered is that there are just certain postures when you put your body into that posture, it immediately increases your testosterone so you drop your cortisol and can put your body into a frame of feeling so grounded and secure that it’s, you know, we have that mind-body loop.  When your body feels that kind of grounding and security, it sends that message to your brain that then sends that message back to your body and you can immediately shift out of a feeling of fear and into a sense of security.  So Amy Cuddy particularly promotes putting your feet up on a desk with your hands behind your head.  And it–it’s a very relaxed looking pose.  That’s her favorite.  I really love sitting in a chair, feet flat on the floor, hands palm down on your thighs and then really rolling your shoulders back, strengthening and aligning your spine, and allowing your hips to pop forward so you’ve got that alignment, and then sitting like that because you can’t always on a bus, when you start to have a panic attack say to everybody, “Move over please, excuse me, I gotta put my feet up and my hands behind my head.”  But this other power position helps you feel grounded and allows you to feel completely connected.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, I love that.  I know she did the study where she did the power pose where it’s kinda like a–it’s–it’s like if you’re in the Rocky movie and Rocky gets to the top of steps–

Michele Rosenthal:   Mmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And he puts his arms above his head and he just kinda puts his arms out and really extends that spine.  I think she saw a significant, like a 20% reduction in cortisol and while a 20% increase in testosterone.  So we can shift our hormones by just out posture and I deal a lot with hormones and gut stuff in functional medicine and it’s–and I do a lot of these salivary tests that measure hormones.  I was just fascinated to see she was doing these same tests and seeing hormones change with just posture.

Michele Rosenthal:   It’s amazing, isn’t it?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:   You know, there’s so many ways we can change our body chemistry in under 2 minutes.  For example, breath work does the same thing.  Not the same cortisol. I’m not saying that.  But in under 2 minutes, you can change your whole chemical makeup, just by doing breath work.  So I–I think the power of the body as you know so much from you work–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:   Is amazing.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.  Can you talk some of the–

Michele Rosenthal:   And we just have to learn how to do that.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.  Can you talk about some of the breath work that you do with your patients or that you recommend in the book?

Michele Rosenthal:   Yeah, absolutely.  I love, more than anything, square breathing.  It was–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   And I think I love it, because personally it helped me so much, but I love it, too, because I speak a lot nationally about posttraumatic stress disorder and trauma and recovery, and I always–I love to do this exercise in the room where I ask everyone to rate their stress on a scale of 1 to 10 and then we do a group breathing exercise of square breathing.  And just 2 minutes and afterward you can feel the entire energy of the room just come down, and when everyone rates their feeling of stress afterward, they’re so amazed.  It’s just been 2 minutes and it’s breath work.  So my favorite breathing exercise is square breathing which is literally a 4-4-4 count.  4-4-4-4, so it’s 4 sides of a square.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Got it.

Michele Rosenthal:   So you breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, out for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts.  Now that’s what I learned, that was back in the late 90s.  What we know since then is that it–it seems–seems to work even better if you have a longer exhale than you have an inhale. And I interviewed a PTSD breath work expert who suggested that the optimal number of breaths per minute is 5 and that the optimal–optimal number for breathing count is 4-4-6-2.  That was from all the research that she had done and so that’s breathing in for a count of 4, holding for a count of 4, releasing for a count of 6, holding for a count of 2 and then starting over.  And I always like to remind people that the first time that you do this exercise and maybe the second time and the third time, the first 3 to 5 rounds of the breathing, you might wanna jump out of your skin and that’s okay.  Because it’s very hard as a survivor to sit still, to trust, to be okay just with your breath.  That’s okay.  If you will allow yourself to embrace the resistance, acknowledge, accept it, validate it and stick with the process of breathing.  After about the fifth round, you will start to notice everything changes.  If you can get to 10 rounds, it will be so much easier.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Got it.  4 in, 4 holds, 6 out, 2 hold.

Michele Rosenthal:  Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Great.  Now how do you incorporate or do you incorporate meditation?

Michele Rosenthal:   Oh, I do.  One of the first things that I did in my own recovery, my therapist taught me transcendental meditation.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And that 1998 and I still do it today because the benefits, I mean, I’m symptom-free.  I have been for almost a decade but I love transcendental meditation.  It feels good.  It’s energizing.  It improves your cognitive abilities.  It focuses your brain.  It reduces stress, so I–I developed a practice right away, after a little bit of initial resistance because again, no survivor wants to sit still and be quiet, so I had a little bit of a–a resistance that I had to work through, but when I did, within a month, I was already seeing the benefits.  I was better able to handle change, better able to handle stress and starting to feel a little more calm throughout the day.  So I teach for all of my clients that feel comfortable, I teach that to them so that they can incorporate that in their own recovery process and I–I think that all the things that we’re talking about are so beneficial, Dr. J.  I think the most important thing–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   To remember is that everybody is so unique an individual that again and again, we have to come back to–you have to try something.  If it resonates with you, do it again.  If it doesn’t, find something else because so many times, I see people forced into recovery processes that are making them worse.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  When it’s just it was the wrong recovery process for them.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And–and so it’s important to sort of recognize your own feedback and say, okay, I’ve tried this 3 x and I feel significant worse each time, I need something else.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Do you think like a NLP or the hypnosis and such, would that every not be the right path for someone to heal?

Michele Rosenthal:   Well, I–you and I have a deep understanding of hypnosis and NLP–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   And we see the results.  But from a–an ideological standpoint I would always say that there’s going to be someone that doesn’t like it.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   And someone from whom it doesn’t work.  Because just statistically speaking, I think that would be the case.  I have not met that person yet–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay.

Michele Rosenthal:   But–but that just really has a lot to do with there you are in your recovery and–and how you’re managing it.  Sometimes we can try something at one point in our recovery and hate it.  It doesn’t work and 6 months or 2 years later, it’s exactly the thing we needed.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   But we just had a little more work to do to get to that place where it was beneficial.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So if you encounter that patient, how would you shift gears away from, you know, your–your bread and butter NLP and hypnosis?  How would you shift gears?

Michele Rosenthal:   Well, I–I’m also trained as a coach, so there’s a lot we can do–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   With coaching and–and in fact, Heal Your PTSD is a book all about coaching.  You know, it’s all about figuring out how do we chunk down the process of recovery to create–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  Daily healing actions and develop a process that feels comfortable for each individual person.  One of the things that–that I worked really hard in Heal Your PTSD to do is to customized it so that everyone can create their own personal process.  So right away I would switch to coaching and a lot of times, other processes, hyp–like hypnosis and NLP will work when you’re farther along in the cognitive conscious realm.  So when you get to a place where you trust yourself more or you believe in what you’re doing or you feel less afraid, then you can try hypnosis or NLP again and see how it goes.  I particularly in those instances stick with NLP because there’s less fear related to it.  You don’t have to close your eyes.  You don’t have to be in altered state.  There’s so much we can do that is less “fear-producing” than hypnosis where you have to close your eyes.  Some of my clients don’t want to close their eyes.  That’s frightening for them.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   So–so we steer away from those.  If in the end someone really doesn’t wanna use hypnosis or NLP and we’ve gone as far as we can go with coaching, they really need another modality, then I bring in a colleague and say, “Okay, well, my colleague is trained in this, so if that resonates with you, let’s try that.”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   And I–I’ll bring in a colleague because I mean, you never wanna stand in the way of someone’s recovery if they can’t do it the way you’re trained, find somebody who’s trained a different way.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.  Yeah, that totally makes sense.  Now going back to your transcendental meditation, how does that look like how’s that compa–how’s that different compared to your conventional, you know, run-of-the-mill meditation?  Like how does that–if someone wants to do right now, how does that apply?

Michele Rosenthal:   Right.  Well, there is so many different ways to meditate.  So I’ll explain the answer to that by–by sharing the other ways.  You know, meditation is really just a way to focus your brain so we can do that by literally just sitting still and focusing on our breathing, how the breath moves in and out, we can focus on the flame of a candle or–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Another image, a spot on the wall, you know, for anyone–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Who’s into yoga, you know you have a drishti when you’re doing balancing processes, you–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   You focus on one spot on the wall and we can even do that with sound, just by listening to a sound. And I think it’s important to approach the idea of meditation by understanding there are many ways to do this.  Again, for survivors who don’t wanna close their eyes, transcendental meditation purely speaking might not feel comfortable.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Because you don’t wanna close your eyes to meditate and you don’t have to.  So what I love about TM is I–I was happy to close my eyes and I needed a focus for my brain.  My brain would jump all over the place with all kinds of anxiety when I try to meditate.  I couldn’t just focus on my breath.  It didn’t work.  My brain was all over the place with the reasons we shouldn’t be doing that.  So for me, TM was really useful because it–you know, you choose a–a word.  And you just focus on the word and for me, I chose the word peace.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  I just–and it–I don’t even remember why I chose that, but in looking back, it was what I most wanted.  And so I held that word in my consciousness–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  In my closed eyes I could see the word and I just would stay focused on the word repeating it over and over to myself, so that my brain was able to just chill out, calm down.  It had a focus.  It had a little job to do.  It was supposed to focus on this word and that allowed me to slip into a very deep state of meditation for an hour.  So–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Wow.

Michele Rosenthal:  So it was very useful for me especially for someone who has insomnia which I did.  You, I’m sure, know this, Dr. J but one hour of meditation is like 2 hours of REM sleep.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:   So the benefits of TM or any meditation are enormous and very vast.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So when you’re doing this meditation, you’re putting your visualization on the word peace and are you doing that same breath pattern you talked about, the–the 4-4-6-2?

Michele Rosenthal:  No, actually.  I don’t.  I do a lot of big cleansing breaths and allow myself to sort of hum, you know, the–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yup.

Michele Rosenthal:   The–the–your body resonates.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   So I do like 5 really–I breathe in as far as I can and then–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.

Michele Rosenthal:   Release as far as I can allowing–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:  The breath to hum out and–and then I just let myself go into regular breathing because I think it would be hard to focus on a word and count the breath at the same time.  So I just focus on the word and let the breathing take care of itself so that my mind can just shut down.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Got it.  So 5 big really deep breaths to start.  You’re focused on that word or that image and then you’re just breathing regularly as you keep that focus.

Michele Rosenthal:   Right.  And those big deep breaths really slow, like really slowly in and really slowly out because–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   What you’re doing is sending a message to your body, slow down, and what we said before comes into play here.  The message that your body picks up, it relays to your mind.  So when you get your body into this slow, rhythmic breathing it sends a message to your mind, slow down.  And that is the beginning of creating a meditative state.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And these breaths are coming from the diaphragm, right?  The belly–

Michele Rosenthal:   Uh-huh.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Is distending.  You’re not breathing from the chest. These are all big belly breathes–breaths, right?

Michele Rosenthal:   Yes, definitely.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Great, awesome.  I know Jon Kabat-Zinn does a lot on the transcendental meditation.  Is he a good resource?

Michele Rosenthal:   Absolutely.  He’s a great–great resource for so many things.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Michele Rosenthal:  I love his work.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Awesome. Well, going back in time for you, was 1983, 84, where this all happened, when did feel like you hit a full recovery?

Michele Rosenthal:   My original trauma was 1981, so you’re right.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  81.  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   By 83 or 84, I was a mess.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And then my full recovery was around 2007.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  So it was a long time coming, you know, almost–almost 30 years, 26 years of–of struggling and then attempting to heal and failing at it.  I hate that word.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:  But that’s the word that we always like mostly comes to mind, but that’s the way recovery goes.  You make some successes.  You have some gains and then something happens and you think you’ve been set back but one of the points that I make in Heal Your PTSD.  We have a whole section on what to do, to bust through blocks, and–and the point really is that just because you feel like you’ve gone back, the operative word there is feeling.  It’s a feeling that you’ve gone back, but you can’t go back.  That’s one of the–the biggest problems with traumas.  You can’t go back to who you were before.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:  You can only go forward.  So it’s not like then you get into recovery and oh, suddenly you can go back to who you were 3 years ago.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Where you were much worse.  You can’t.  Because you’ve come so far since then and I–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:  I’m working with a client now and he–he–every time he hits that–that wall and there are many.  He says, “I’m right back to where I was last year.”  And I said, “No. you’re not.  Tell me the differences between how you were able to function today and how you were a year ago.”  And he is full of the differences.  So it’s just a matter of being able to access a thought process that helps you re-claim your permanency in the present moment, and figure out where you go from there.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Got it. I know you used that word failing to start.  I have a really great mnemonic device for failing.  It’s Find An Important Lesson Invite Needed Growth.

Michele Rosenthal:  I love that.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:  That’s awesome.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, that’s a really good one.  I like it, too. And you know, I noticed in your timeframe, 81 to 2007, that’s a–that’s a long time and I imagine you just didn’t quite, you didn’t encounter the tools you needed until later on in your healing journey.  Is that what the delay was?

Michele Rosenthal:   I think part of the delay was a lack of knowledge and awareness about posttraumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   1981, nobody was looking at a civilian kid with medical trauma–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly.

Michele Rosenthal:   And diagnosing those symptoms.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   I think another problem was there was no Google, you know.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   So–so it wasn’t like my parents who were very active in trying to help me, there was no Google like, “Let’s get online and put in her symptoms and see what comes up.”  I–I think another is that while I love the psychologist that taught me TM, he had no clue about PTSD.  So I spent–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Michele Rosenthal:   8 years in and out of therapy with him, getting a little bit better and then really, really taking a nose dive off the face of the planet and he had no clue what was really wrong.  So I–I think part of it is you have to be working with the right person.  I–I didn’t know there was such a thing as a trauma-trained therapist until I was really, really sick mentally and physically, and I started doing my own research and all of a sudden, I started realizing I–I’m working with the wrong person.  He was awesome. I loved him but he was not equipped to help me.  So there’s that and then there’s also just the timeframe of figuring out what’s going to work with you and trying things and–and having the successes that you do and–and the unexpected outcomes that make you say, “Okay, I need to do this a different way.”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  So my–my journey is by no means unique.  There are other people who go 30 years without the proper diagnosis but there are other people who heal in 6 months, you know.  So it’s important to recognize both sides of the spectrum so that nobody thinks, “Gosh, if it took her that long, it’s gonna take me that long, because that’s–that’s–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Not the case.”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So if you encountered yourself–if you encountered yourself now as a practitioner back in 1981, how long do you think it would take you to get over this?

Michele Rosenthal:   Well, 2 factors I think come into play.  Number one, the–the strengths of the practitioner and–and so I would say, if I was working with me, I’d be really, really well on my way.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   The other–on the other hand though, we as survivors have to be ready–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   And willing to heal.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And there is a lot that goes into the recovery process that is frightening and painful and challenging and if we’re not ready to do that, then nobody can help us, because we’re not ready to be helped. And so there is that aspect of it, too.  A recovery from PTSD changes everything.  PTSD becomes a lifestyle and recovery and healing become a lifestyle, but they’re two totally polar opposite lifestyles.  PTSD is all about your safety and your control–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And trying to maintain those two things.  Healing and recovery is a lifestyle of understanding.  You don’t have the ability to constantly be safe in control.  Your job is to learn to live in a world with as much strength and certainty and power as you can despite those things and–and recovery asks you to give up all of the coping mechanisms you’ve put in place to ensure your survival.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   The insomnia, the hypervigilance, the mood swings, all of those things we do to maintain the status quo to keep us safe.  Now recovery is asking you to drop all of that because those are actually the things making you worse.  And so you have to be prepared for that place of uncertainty and not knowing what you’re doing, and not knowing who you’re going to become.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And figuring that out and having an attitude.  In Heal Your PTSD, I write about it as an attitude of being an adventurer and an explorer, because you are in uncharted territory.  What are you going to do there?  And that’s really the point of having these strategies so that on any day depending on how you feel in any day, you can open Heal Your PTSD and find a strategy that will work for you for that day.  Because every day is different and that’s really the challenge, is to figure out how to work through each day, adding incrementally to your healing process along the way.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, and you have a lot of these strategies in the book as well, too.  That’s great.  And when you say ready, being ready, do you mean like you’re just admitting there’s a problem and something–something need to be addressed?  Is that what you mean by ready?

Michele Rosenthal:   I mean, it starts there.  For the longest time, Dr. J, every time my parents or particularly my mother would say, “You need help.  This is not right the way you are.”  And she didn’t mean that unkind.  She meant you’re in so much pain, this isn’t right, we can–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  right.

Michele Rosenthal:   Fix this.  And I kept screaming and yelling her, “There is nothing wrong with me.  You’re the problem.  If you would–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Michele Rosenthal:   Leave me alone, I’d be just fine.  So first you have to admit, yes, it–the problem is me.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:   A–and then you have to be willing to do the work. The work is painful and it is frightening and it–it is one of my–there are a lot of fears that go along with PTSD recovery.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  What was the hardest thing for you?

Michele Rosenthal:   Yeah, my biggest one was I was afraid that the recovery process itself would make me clinically insane.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   I was so afraid that my mind would not be able to handle what I was being asked to do and the influx of memory and the flood of intense emotion, I thought I would literally have to be straightjacketed and put into–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  A padded cell.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   So I–I resisted for–for at least 17 years.  I resisted the idea that I needed help because I was frightened–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   To get help and–and then once I got into recovery, there were a lot of times that I quit because I just couldn’t handle how awful it felt. I–I think really living with PTSD and going through the recovery process is–is worse than the original trauma itself.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  Because you’re so much more conscious during the living and recovery process.  During a trauma, you know, your survival mechanisms take over and you just do what you have to do, but so–so it–it’s for me and I–I see this for a lot of people, and I hear this from a lot of the survivors who connect with me that fear of recovery is one of the biggest blocks to recovery.  So you really, I–I recommend for everyone deal with the fear first.  You will not make any recovery gains until you face the fear of recovery and put that out of the way because otherwise it’s just gonna keep popping up and distracting you.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And what will be the big piece of advice that you would give to someone that may subconsciously be afraid of recovering?  What’s the–that piece that you would give them to overstep that?

Michele Rosenthal:  If they are subconsciously afraid?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Meaning they are not aware of their fear?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, like let’s say there’s–there’s some type of hidden block that’s preventing them from saying, “Hey, I have a problem and I need to fix this.”  What’s–what’s that first step that you could encourage them to take to help overcome that?

Michele Rosenthal:   Oh, excellent.  I would use one of the favorite NLP techniques which I’m sure you’re familiar with, which is future-pacing.  Like let’s look out–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Into the future.  What’s your future going to look like if things stay as they are now?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Michele Rosenthal:   And once you start doing that, people can start to see the difference between how life can be and how it is now and they are usually able to pop up and say, “But if I do that–” and the minute you have the but, you’ve got the problem.  Because the “but if I do that” is usually what the underlying fear is; usually it’s losing something, you know, in terms of their current relationships.  I have–I have a one client now who literally the thing that is stalling his recovery is that his girlfriend doesn’t like that he feels better.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  So for a long time he wasn’t aware of that and then once you become aware of what that underlying thing is, whether it’s somebody else that’s going to change, how you will change, how your life will be different.  A lot of times we fear feeling better.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  And–and that’s a very relevant fear but it’s usually subconscious, it’s not something we recognize until we say, “Well, if I’m–if I’m that okay,” this is a great example, because it–this exact process worked with one of my clients. This was maybe 4 or 5 years ago and we were working through this exact process and she said, “Well, if I’m that okay, then my family,” her extended family who had abused her, “they’re gonna come after me.”  And all of a sudden, the subconscious fear of recovery was there in the spotlight.  She was really afraid that if she felt better, her family would descend upon her, whereas right now if she stayed in bed, didn’t bathe, didn’t eat, and watched TV all day, nobody was bothering her.  So from that little exercise, we could pop out, here’s the underlying fear and we started–we suspended all work on recovery and started working on how are we going to make her safe, so that recovery–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Michele Rosenthal:   Was possible.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right. And it–I could see it also being scary, you get a lot of attention when you’re sick.  You know, you get more doctors coming around you.  You get more nurses, you get more sympathy from friends and family and then you also get excuses if you aren’t successful in your life or if you aren’t doing the things that maybe you wanted to be doing when you were younger and set your goals out.  Well, you have an excuse.  So it could be scary to now lose that excuse, right?

Michele Rosenthal:   Mmm.  Absolutely, that’s a great point.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So after everyone’s listened to this last 45 minutes or so, what would say are like the big 3 take homes?  Like a, hey, if you just missed everything but you’re tuning into these 3–3 little take homes, what are the 3 take homes you’d give to our listeners?

Michele Rosenthal:   I would say number one, don’t listen to the naysayers.  PTSD can be healed.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:  It absolutely can.  Every single one of us has enormous healing potential.  The goal is learning to access it and that’s your job.  So I’m not saying everyone will heal because not everyone wants to go through the process of recovery.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Michele Rosenthal:   But we all start from that level playing ground of the possibility is out there for you.  So stop listening to anyone who thinks it’s impossible and turn yourself in a different direction and move toward the people who know it is and are doing it.  So number one, recovery is possible.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Michele Rosenthal:   Number two, recovery happens through 2 things, making choices and taking actions.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Those are the two fundamental elements for every recovery.  It doesn’t matter what your trauma is.  It doesn’t matter what modality you’re using.  If you implement choices and actions on a daily basis that are designed to move you forward, you will start seeing gains.  And–and the last thing I would say is to always stay in touch with your hope, because there are going to be dark moments that challenge it and I think the best way to stay in touch with a sense of hope is number one, to start with an openness to it.  When I started my recovery, I didn’t know that I was going to get to where I am today, which is 100% free of symptoms for almost a decade despite enormous–an enormous triggering event 2 years ago.  So I didn’t know this is where I was going to be, I just hoped that I would get there. And–and number two, we have to feed hope.  It has–it’s–it–it’s like a little plant.  It needs to be tended to.  It needs to grow and–and for that, I really recommend and I do this with all of my clients, we need those life affirming experiences that make us feel it’s–it’s good to be alive.  I feel okay.  I even feel happy about being alive.  For me, that came in the–in the scenario of joy.  I decided I needed to feel joy every day.  Even if it was at just 30 minutes.  I decided I needed that sense of joy, 30 seconds even would be great.  So I literally developed a program for myself.  I knew when I dance, I feel good.  I feel joyful.  I feel free and I literally signed up for a dance class every single day of the week for months on end just to help the brain have that repetitive process of this feels good.  And for me, that allowed me to feel hope.  “Oh, I can feel good for this amount of time, maybe I could feel good for twice that amount of time one day.”  And by repetitively training the brain, “This feels good.  We can do this,” you start to develop a sense of belief that deepens and ultimately more courage.  So for all of my clients, I ask them to find that thing that it feels good to do.  So the client that I just told you was worried about her family if she healed, she loved to ride her Harley on the back roads of this–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Michele Rosenthal:   Very rural town that she lived in.  I’ve another client who his thing is, jet-skiing.  And he’ll just go out for a couple of hours, just to have that connection with a part of ourselves that feels good to be alive.  So I’d say those 3 things are–are super important as they create a base for recovery and then from there, you build on it in whatever way is personal to you.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.  That’s great. Are you still seeing clients?  Are you seeing clients virtually as well?

Michele Rosenthal:   I do.  I do.  I work with people from around the world via Skype and phone and their recovery process to me is ongoing all the time.  Even when you’re done, your job then is to continue living your life the way you’ve designed and created your recovery process that is with intention and consciousness and a desire to feel good.  And–and so from there, we–we can go anywhere and creating a life and who we wanna be that feels good and is meaningful and–and substantial and successful.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Great.  And what’s the best way for the listeners to get a hold of you?

Michele Rosenthal:   HealMyPTSD.com.  You can have access there, not only to me, but to our Heal My PTSD forum. We have over a hundred podcasts of interviews with healing professionals and survivors, all of who talk about how to heal and–and the results that they’re seeing.  And also Heal Your PTSD: Dynamic Strategies that Work and my other books are available there, plus our free webinar training series on The Science Behind Your Symptoms.  So it’s like a virtual PTSD party on HealMyPTSD.com site.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Great!  Are there any other social media avenues that listeners can find you at?

Michele Rosenthal:   Absolutely.  Twitter and Facebook.  The links are on the HealMyPTSD.com site as well.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  That’s awesome.  Well, I really appreciate your story, Michele. The fact that you’ve gone through it.  You’ve healed.  You tried lots of different strategies.  I mean, I–I definitely am a big fan of some of these strategies before we even chatted today.  I’m a bit–I knew about these strategies before and it’s great that we were so in sync.  I really appreciate that and it’s, you know, you walking the journey of the–the wounded healer and you bring so much more to your patients because you walked that journey.

Michele Rosenthal:   Thank you so much, Dr. J.  I appreciate that and thank you for your interest in all of this today.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Thanks, Michele, for coming on the show.

 

 

 

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