Deborah Kennard, MS, PTI Founder

We are called the Personal Transformation Institute for a reason.  We offer an invitation for Personal Transformation for all who seek it.  Notice we say all who seek it and not all who need it.  

This includes:

  • Training Participants
  • Training Staff
  • Consultants
  • Consultants-in-Training
  • All who receive the benefit of working with any of the above

The S.A.F.E. approach is paradoxically powerful.  The principles we use to as a guide are subtle and nonviolent yet powerful and transformative.  We use the principles of mindfulness and nonviolence to set the conditions for organic transformation to occur in an intentional manner. 

Personal Transformation Institute

Mindfulness is a powerful tool for studying what is here in the experience of the present moment and regulating our system as we investigate what is here with a state of wonder.  It is exploratory, relaxed and meditative in an awake, conscious manner. We are able to access a deeper level of awareness as we access both conscious thoughts and our non-verbal, intuitive states. 

Mindfulness is a powerful tool that allows for studying what is here.  As we are curious about the present moment in a relaxed, exploratory manner, it is naturally regulating.  We are aware and curious about the present manifestation of a past event, which allows for deeper awareness.  With mindful awareness, we are accessing non-verbal, intuitive states.  

What we are doing with EMDR is asking the client to look at what is here, look inward.  We are asking them to look at the unconscious and inviting them to allow the shift to the conscious.  The unconscious may be a memory that they are aware of, it doesn’t need to be a secret or something horrific and surprising.  But if it is horrific and surprising it is best for it to move to consciousness because it is driving behavior, attitudes and beliefs without our awareness.  

Our human neurobiology is here to protect us.  When something overwhelming is happening we naturally cut off from the experience.  This protects us if the worst happens and we need to be gone from our physical bodies and not experience extreme pain.  We want this to happen. It only becomes a problem when we are experiencing the event later in a flashback or intrusive memory and we are actually safe.  It can keep you from living fully and freely as you are living as if the overwhelming event is about to happen again at any time or is happening now, when in fact it isn’t.  

The principle of mindfulness helps this process as we practice being here in this moment and observing what happens here and now.  In the case of psychotherapy, specifically EMDR, we are practicing this so the client’s system can practice being in this present moment and not just being with the historical experience.  

The principles of mindfulness and non-violence go hand in hand.  To use the tool of mindfulness and to allow for the unfolding of the present moment, or the unconscious states, we need to also bring in a principle of non-violence.  

Non-violence allows safe exploration that is cooperative and honoring the wisdom of the natural unfolding of the present moment.  This is especially important as we look at what is typically called “resistance”. By embodying non-violence we are welcoming and curious about what is here.  This sets the condition for the organic process to unfold. We use the term “Answer” instead of “resistance” because we honor the wisdom of the human system and recognize that by welcoming it and acknowledging the adaptive and helpful nature of the “resistance”, we are allowing for other options to be available.  As Ron Kurtz, the founder of Hakomi stated these defenses will “willingly yield” when appropriate.  

We make this distinction because we have a deep understanding of transformation and the conditions that make it more likely to be a positive change.

Technically, we do not have the ability to transform ourselves or others, acknowledging this is an important part of our model and it goes along with the concept of nonviolence.  What we can do is offer concepts, tools and support for setting the conditions for transformation. Those conditions include:

  • An Invitation
  • Nonviolence
  • Present Moment Focus
  • Mindfulness
  • Curiosity
  • Awareness

In our model, we believe that by using the above concepts and principles we can help set the conditions for transformation and by slowing down in the moment, we are able to speed up the process of healing once the invitation is accepted. 

There is a common black and white thinking that often happens, we believe that if we let go of trying to make something happen we are just being passive and letting the client wander aimlessly in a sea of unhappiness.  The truth is, by taking charge of setting the conditions we are able to guide the client in a way that allows for change to occur more quickly. There is a distinction between taking charge of setting the conditions for transformation and attempting to take charge of the client’s system or direction of change.  

We are able to take charge of the conditions by first offering an invitation.  It is important for us to recognize that the invitation can be turned down. There is an invitation to look, to go deeper and to explore the intrapersonal and interpersonal blocks that are present.  Our approach offers an invitation for radical responsibility. As we believe that as we do not always have control of the world or what happens to us, we do always have a part to play in our dance with the circumstance.  As we explore our present moment reaction and allow for what is here, we can also explore the “extra” that we bring to the situation. What is the conclusion we are making about ourselves or the world as a result of this situation?  

The EMDR model proposes that most of the current reactions we have in the present moment are fueled by earlier experiences.  Those earlier experiences are the foundation for how we see ourselves and the world. This view is carried throughout our lives and becomes the water we swim in or the lens we view our experiences through.  Memory:  How the Past Manifests

As you think of the term, “rose-colored glasses”, we are referring to someone who views the world with an overly optimistic opinion of what is happening.  In the case of clients who come in for EMDR therapy, many are viewing the world through “trauma colored glasses”. The traumatic experiences that have happened in the past are held in the system and feel like they are happening now or about to happen at any time.  

The brain research has shown the specific regions of the brain that light up when we are experiencing a feeling of danger.  This same region lights up as we remember a past event, even if we are now safe.  

One of the things that are different about our approach is how we look at history taking and preparation phase.  In many EMDR trainings the participants are taught Safe/Calm Place, Container and maybe an expanded resource script to use with clients.  This is the area where most clinicians run into issues with clients. Many people are left with questions like:

  • How do you know when the client is ready to process?  
  • What are the client’s current resources
  • How do I know if the client is prepared enough?

We offer more than just scripts for resourcing, we offer a way to investigate the client’s current strengths and resources and a path to explore what is needed,  The 4 E’s of Resourcing.

We offer this with mindfulness and the understanding that the principle of mindfulness is more about being what is here instead of trying to help the client relax, Relaxation Techniques Don’t work.  

In early 2020 I will be offering a Master Class in which I will go deeply into our model.  The Master Class will meet weekly for 6 weeks and will be a total of 24 hours of learning. If you resonate with our way of working, I hope you will join me. Find out more.