CRM – The Comprehensive Resource Model

It’s Safe to Stay Awake!!

Healing from the impact of traumatic experiences requires that there is sufficient brain and body-based safety in order for survival terror and all painful/intolerable affects to be stepped into, felt fully, remembered/re-membered, and re-oriented to so that transformation can occur. Full orientation toward profound grief, rage, shame, disgust, and terror allows for liberation of the truths of one’s life and facilitates integration of all aspects of all experience into the whole of one’s being, creating the ultimate connection to self as mind-body-spirit. The Comprehensive Resource Model recognizes that the ability to “stay awake” to the truth of our life in sessions and day to day, without the urge to return to “slumber” through defense responses and dissociation, provides the opportunity to be in an authentic loving relationship with ourselves first and foremost. From this comes our ability to step fully into healthy relationships with others, one-on-one as well as in community, locally and globally. The realization/manifestation of the interconnection between our “true/spiritual/core self” which is not defined by trauma, our human body, and our relationship with others and the earth we live on allows for the power of love to potentiate and actualize in a way that creates change in the microcosm of our internal world, our families, and the macrocosm of the world as a whole.

Neurobiological Scaffolding of The Comprehensive Resource Model

Harvest Moon, 2010, Pittsburgh, PA

Harvest Moon, 2010, Pittsburgh, PA, Photo Credit Lisa Schwarz

The Comprehensive Resource Model provides the neurobiological scaffolding that allows the brain to establish a physiological state of sufficient safety for fear responses to be recognized as relevant to the past but not the present: it allows the client to be fully present in the moment while orienting to the reality that pertained in the past. There are 7 primary resources and 5 secondary resources utilized throughout treatment using CRM, all of which are sourced internally WITHIN the client and which impact the functioning of mid-brain –based subcortical looping systems that perpetuate symptoms and dissociation rather than affiliation and connection. Few of the resources inherent in the CRM are brand new inventions. It is the combination, sequencing, flow, and nested use of these resources that allows clients to safely experience the ascents and descents in the builders’ scaffolding of the massive and complex construction housing the mind/brain in order to heal fully.

In particular, the “dandelion root” events (acute or chronic and often associated with attachment disruption) which catalyze defense responses and dissocation are targeted in treatment rather than the symptomatic sequalae of these events. The neurobiological looping systems running from brainstem to body to midbrain to cortex and back again are dismantled as a consequence of the layered neurobiological resourcing process. This makes the model different from many others and quite effective where other approaches may have been unsuccessful. It is the construction of scaffolding resources and the process of nesting them together concurrently or sequentially with eye positions anchoring these resources throughout the healing work that is at the core of the support afforded to the person’s journey of mind/brain healing through the CRM.

Healing Alchemy

All of the CRM resources are body-based. This is a bold statement when it is recognized that severe dissociative patients/clients have difficulty in being embodied. The key to the veracity of this is the anchoring every resource used through an eye position. Internal resources and CRM Resource eye positions can be used across the dissociative spectrum (from the mild, non-life interfering dissociation that we all experience at some point in our lives to Dissociative Identity Disorder). Activating the innate, organic healing energy grid within the body, enhancing dormant neurobiological attachment processes/attunement, and identifying and connecting with core self and spiritual essence allows the power and breadth of The Comprehensive Resource Model to augment one’s potential to heal and be healed.

Although there are discernible similarities with other approaches to the treatment of complex trauma disorders, the Lineage of Comprehensive Resource Model does not specifically include modalities other than The Trauma Model (Colin Ross), Breathing and Somatic skills from the healing work of Barbara Barnett, and Lisa’s Resource Model. However one of its strengths is that it can be seen to contain the most effective concepts and tools in an easy-to-use format. It was only through creative application of efforts to heal that these emerged as most salient. CRM provides the opportunity for re-connection to one’s true self; to the meaning of the truth of one’s life; and to the ability to embody love in one’s actions. Remembering and reconnecting to our internal as well as ancestral resources and joy is as important to this process as is the integration of traumatic and painful memories through the removal of the distressing emotions they have been carrying. This method of resourcing allows for a healing alchemy: the experience of re-connecting to the innate resources in the soma within the context of our pain allows for the transformation of suffering from emotional and behavioral freeze to the manifestation of our highest purpose through action while living in a human, physical body. This is what we desire, what we are looking for, consciously or unconsciously.

How is CRM different from other therapeutic tools and trauma therapies?

  • The traditional phase oriented treatment does not apply in this model as stability, processing and integration are occurring simultaneously throughout the work.  Resourcing in CRM is considered a concurrent part of the trauma work rather than a mechanism for avoidance of the deepest, most profound pain.
  • Multiple layers of scaffolded CRM resources creates multiple parallel looping systems in most brain structures simultaneously which allows for targeting the acute or chronic experiences which precede the split-second moment(s) of threat or affect BEFORE F-F-F (fight, flight, freeze), hide, avoid, submit or dissociative responses occur. There are many levels of resourcing via the different layers and types of resources which allow for many more loops that keep the parasympathetic system activated WHILE the trauma is oriented TOWARD and stepped into. In this way, the emotions/affects can be fully experienced without re-traumatization and without negative cognitions, dysfunctional behaviors, and relational reactivity being activated and blocking full access and resolution of the trauma material.
  • CRM resources support the client in being fully conscious and embodied in the present moment which allows the dandelion root of intolerable affect to be excised and the trauma loops that drive defense responses (ie, addictions, DSM symptoms, relational problems and negative cognitions) rendered unnecessary and therefore dismantled without flooding, abreaction or catharsis.
  • Therapists trained in CRM are taught how to differentiate authentic processing from abreactions and “hamster wheel” looping. These are re-traumatizing and do not lead to lasting shifts in the client’s behavior, cognitions or relationships to self and others. Therapists are educated as to their ability to attune to the client’s process and moment to moment needs through both study of CRM model as well as through personal application of the CRM resourcing for their own healing
  • CRM is not considered to be only a trauma processing model; it is the means from which to clear neurobiological “sludge” to allow access to one’s true authentic self, highest consciousness and personal expansion. The attention and focus on this “next” level of personal development and consistent embodiment of a non-intentional self that is NOT defined by trauma is addressed and worked on directly through CRM and is considered the ultimate goal of healing.
  • Emphasis is placed on educating the client in using the resourcing skills independently between sessions. They are thereby coached in developing internal trust and faith that they have everything they need INSIDE THEMSELVES in order to heal.  Sessions are ended in such a way as to capitalize on the potential for positive neuro-plasticity created in each session.  The intention is for clients to strengthen their sense of empowerment, efficacy, ability to self-regulate day by day and for their ability to maintain the gains made in therapy.
  • Therapist’s own mental health and personal work is considered paramount to the success of the use of CRM
  • Other modalities still consider that the amygdala is the primary structure in the defense response cascade. CRM posits that all trauma associated affect and defense responses originate from the midbrain Periaqueductal gray, (PAG) in the upper brainstem, as do CARE/NURTURING/PLAY and joy resources.
  • Regular treatment, talk therapy or other types of trauma treatment (non-CRM), focuses on the cortex and the amygdala in the context of fear-learning.  CRM works from the place where the affects and defense responses are generated – both for trauma and crucially, for resourcing, therefore allowing access to state-dependant memory and subsequent change in the neurobiological mechanisms for managing traumatic material.
  • Obstacles and blocks to therapy and healing are directly addressed and worked with
  • The use of the model creates and deepens the therapeutic relationship rather than the relationship driving the use of the model.
What is CRM? How does it work for clients? with Lisa Schwarz, M.Ed
How is CRM different from all the other trauma therapies out there?
  1. CRM allows for the three stages of trauma treatment (stabilization, processing, and integration) to occur simultaneously throughout the therapeutic process.
  2. All of the CRM skills/model can be used with any other psychotherapeutic modality as well as a stand alone model/case conceptualization
  3. The variety of internal resources as well as the sequential and concurrent use of the resources in a stacked or “nested” manner builds a neurological scaffolding of resources in the brain stem, midbrain, limbic system, and neocortex. The client remains in the highest level of resource during their trauma processing as a result of this scaffold so that the client is not re-traumatized by the work and attachment disruption re-wires completely.
  4. Clients are educated about the purpose and mechanics of the CRM resourcing skills with the intention that they can use these resources in between sessions to strengthen their own sense of empowerment and self-regulation day to day.
  5. Therapists will be taught how to differentiate authentic processing from abreactions and “hamster wheel” processing that is re-traumatizing and does not “stick.” Educating therapists regarding their ability to attune to a client’s process and thus their moment-to-moment needs, will be done through study of the model as well as by utilizing the tools themselves.