If you ask a hundred prospective therapy clients, “Would you rather get the results of your therapy in a week, or in a year?” you can bet that at least 99 of them will say, “In a week would be great!” Yes it would be – and it is! Intensive trauma-focused therapy is growing in popularity for some good reasons:
• short time to treatment benefit
• low dropout rate
• reduced risk of destabilization or deterioration
• reduced number of total treatment hours
The research on intensive trauma-focused therapy is clear: It works, and the results are equivalent to results that you’d expect to see from the same therapy as provided in the conventional hour-per-week format. Only much faster.
I started offering intensives on a regular basis in 2008, because I was on the road so much that if someone wanted me for a therapist, the only way it would work was for them to come for several full consecutive days. With experience, I came to regard intensives not merely as a convenience, but as a preferred treatment format for many people/situations. This is because trauma/loss healing does not have to be chopped up into weekly 50-minute blocks. When healing is the main event in a course of therapy – which it often is – why not just dig in and get it done?
Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute (TICTI) has been offering intensives since 2012. In 2016 I started offering brief conference workshops on how to do intensives. In 2020 we developed, and continue to offer, what I think was the first in-depth training for trauma therapists, a 5-day course on how to implement our research-supported intensive model. By now hundreds of therapists are offering intensives, and there are a dozen or so sources of training on how to do them.
While I regard this broader dissemination of intensive therapy and training as a great success, it has also complicated the field somewhat. With so many therapists offering intensives, how is a prospective client to choose? And with so many trainings offered in how to do intensives, how is a trauma therapist to choose?
So earlier this year, TICTI created a certification in intensive trauma-focused therapy. Requirements include having completed training in EMDR or PC, having completed our 5-day training on how to do intensives, our advanced 2-day training, at least 3 clients/12 days of providing intensives, at least 6 hours of group consultation, 3 hours of individual consultation in “real time” (while providing an intensive), passing a written exam, and endorsement by a consultant. Even experienced therapists who go through the steps to earn this certification will learn plenty of new skills.
Is this certification really needed? No. And, yes. I have no doubt that plenty of people are already providing intensives, and perhaps training on same, at a high level. But because intensives are not vetted or regulated, there may be some substandard services being marketed, as well. This certification is based on the only research-supported intensive model for which training is readily available, and establishes a gold standard.