OYM Larry Thompson | Integrative Approach To Psychotherapy

 

We live imprisoned by adverse childhood events, so we seek help to overcome them. In today’s episode, Larry Thompson, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, shares his insights on how we help people create a clearing in the dense forest of their trauma, anxiety, depression, and addiction so they can allow themselves to develop a new skill. He provides an in-depth discussion of an integrative approach to psychotherapy and the importance of developing mindfulness in the healing process. To learn more from Larry, hit that play button and tune in to this conversation!

Watch the episode here

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Trauma-Informed Care: An Integrative Approach To Psychotherapy With Larry Thompson

Larry Thompson is a social worker who was trained at New York University. Larry incorporates his training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Analytic Therapy with nature and holistic approaches in work with adolescents, individuals, and families. Larry’s passion for integrating a total wellness approach continues to carry over into his professional and personal life. He has completed a post-graduate certificate through Drexel in Complementary and Integrative Therapies so as to offer his clients additional options for their wellness recovery, as well as iRest Yoga Nidra meditation through the Integrative Restoration Institute.

Larry, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us here.

Thank you for inviting me. This is such an honor.

I’m excited to hear more about you and your practice. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into the work you do and what drives your passion for it?

I sit across people, and they ask me that question. The joke always is that I’m a therapist for a reason. If you look at my A-scores, I’m probably a 7 out of 10. The calling for therapy started very young, having been exposed to therapy throughout my childhood and adolescence and through all the mud like Thich Nhat Hanh, one of my favorite teachers, who talks about, “No mud, no lotus flower.” There has been a bunch of mud in my life. I grew up in a domestically violent home, a home of mental illness, addiction, poverty, and instability with type 1 and 2 trauma. Trauma is the gateway drug. From that exposure, the grace in my life is being exposed to therapy.

One of the few things that my parents were able to step outside themselves to provide was some exposure to therapy. I got this idea and taste in my mouth that maybe there’s some way of relating to what’s going on for me that could be helpful with that first exposure. My mom is working through sobriety. She brought us to Alateen back then. I’m not sure if Alateen is still around per se. When my mother was in recovery when I was 9 or 10 years old, even with that experience of fellowship that there could be a family or safety outside my home that might be able to sanction me into something else that I was experiencing.

It is weird. I don’t know how to explain it. Going through the terror that I experienced, there’s always a voice back here whispering to me, saying, “This all has to mean something. This all has to be for a reason what I’m going through.” I remember having that awareness at thirteen years old. Those multiple forces made this idea of this profession possible.

In my recovery, I got into AA at 15 to 16 years old. Back then, young people were a novelty. When I came in after almost dying from aspirating when I was blackout drunk, I came into AA having that seed planted in my childhood. I was well held by this fellowship of people. That also played a major part in this idea of getting the profession.

Going through early recovery throughout my adolescence, I came to a decision at graduation from high school that either I was going to play NFL football because football had become another holding, supporting, and affirming force in my life or I was going to be a therapist. We see how that worked out. I played Division 3 Football at Montclair State. I majored in Football and barely got through a five-year plan. I got through it and then tried out for the Jets and Giants. Here I am not regretting it because I can still run around with my little children and not lose my hip or my knee along the way. That worked out, hopefully for the better.

My passion is wanting to be of service and make suffering meaningful, like, “What am I going to do with this?” We talk about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the idea of higher levels of service as you hopefully get more integrated and healthier. It’s organic knowing that all this had to be purposeful for some reason. My legacy of all that trauma is wanting to do something with it of service because so much was given to me along the way, the fellowship, and the therapist I’ve worked with.

One of my favorite teachers is Tim Olmsted, who’s a Pema Chödrön co-teacher. From his teacher, Tim has this wonderful way of saying, “We were all a collection of the kindnesses of others.” That is so true in my life. An obligation almost to do something with the legacy of kindness has been given to me. I was wanting to do something with it, make a difference, and do something that’s going to tell those people that traveled those places I’ve traveled that, “You are not alone. There’s a way out of hell. It’s here when you are ready, as you are ready, and if you are ready.”

After Montclair and getting into the field, I pursued my Master’s at Rutgers and NYU. Another very important person in my life is Catherine. She was my fiancée at the time. After graduating from Montclair, I went to work in a psych hospital as an MHA, which doesn’t pay very well. I started selling high-end fitness equipment and looked apart. I was good at selling high-end fitness equipment to affluent people in New Jersey and New York but it wasn’t fulfilling. It wasn’t meaningful but it was profitable.

This is where capitalism almost got me. I’m working part-time in a psych hospital with adolescents and crisis and full-time selling expensive equipment. I asked the woman in my life, Catherine, who became my wife and the mother of my first child, “Catherine, should I pursue my Master’s? There’s a lot of good money in sales.” She said, “Larry, you got to follow your dream because someday your son might ask if he should follow his, and you want to say yes.” Love sanctioned me into this profession as well.

Follow your dream because someday, your son might ask if he should follow his. You would want to say yes. Click To Tweet

She ended up paying for my Master’s because she had a much better job than me. I graduated from NYU holding my first-born son, John, who was with me. He came to visit from Florida. I developed this relationship with mindfulness meditation through my first exposure to Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Peace Is Every Step. I first read that book even prior to meeting Catherine when I was 25, and it cracked open my head. A lot of it was familiar from AA. Mindfulness and being present were familiar but then it was expanded. I found myself organically incorporating mindfulness meditation in my work from the go like my first private practice in 2001. It has been the fabric of who I have been since then.

Passion also is a privilege. It’s an honor to sit across someone doing the hardest thing possible. They come into the office terrified, anxious, and suffering so much. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Misunderstanding is a source of all suffering.” I’ve never found that to be inaccurate. For someone to come into the office terrified, not understanding their experience, and starting to cross you is a privilege. I’m a very big White male. I am 6’1” and 285 pounds. I have women coming in who have been brutalized, inviting me to sit with them. It makes no sense to me.

Psychology says, “Social learning theory is if relationships have been so painful, why would someone come into a therapeutic relationship thinking it would not be?” Richard Schwartz was the first psychologist that I heard speak to that process that I had witnessed so often. Why did this person come in to talk to a therapist my size and complexion and talk about how men had brutalized them? Why would they think another relationship would work when relationships have been so painful? Richard Schwartz says, “There’s a place inside of us that belongs to us that’s untouched by trauma. It always seeks the light.”

He articulated that experience that I had been experiencing long before I got exposed to Internal Family Systems. That’s what makes sense to me. The passion is the privilege and the honor of being on that journey together. It’s made me a better person, father, husband, and man. It’s a relationship. It’s reciprocity to this journey. That’s what fuels it many years into this profession. I’m here all about it. It is not work for me. It’s out-loud meditation.

If I were to coin, Jonathan Foust, Tara Brach’s husband, taught me that word a long time ago, “Out-loud meditation.” When you come into therapy, is this out-loud meditation? What arises is supposed to arise. We honor it, get curious about it, and try to make sense of it. I believe therapy is trying to bring what’s misunderstanding into the world. It’s not a thing that bothers you and gets you. It’s not understanding the thing that bothers you that drives you into deep suffering.

Therapy is trying to bring misunderstanding into the world of understanding. Click To Tweet

Once you understand it, you can figure out what to do with it. Whatever technique we do and process we are processing, that’s the work. How do we understand this with curiosity and compassion? How do we understand this thing so you can relate to it in a way that is more functional, effective, healing, and healthier in your life?

The four unlimited attitudes of Eastern philosophy are joy, compassion, love and kindness, and equanimity. We are equal here. We are both deserving of light and love. Our personhoods are not dis-equal. Therapists come from behind the desk, across from another human being, and say, “I’m a human being too.” Clients come with their reality, experience, story, expertise, and wisdom. I come with my training, life experience, and reality. Maybe together, something happens if we share that reality in the same size. Dr. George Atwood, who is a retired Professor at Rutgers, wrote a lot about the phenomenological approach of intersubjectivity with Stolorow and others.

He’s the mentor of my mentor Carol Davis. She worked a lot with George. George has this rule which I love so much. It’s beautiful. It’s the rule of the letter R, the rule of Reality. You have your reality. I have my reality. Whose reality should be more important? Should my reality be more important because I have all these years, diplomas, and post-grad certs? That’s the case that I become a narcissistic jerk that doesn’t live in your world and has no application, maybe in your world.

If I become a yes man and the client’s reality is the only important thing, then I have nothing to offer, and there’s no place in it. The non-pathologizing idea is saying, “Let’s listen to the story together and share our realities to create maybe a more expansive one.” We leave the world feeling more connected, less alone, and more understood, hopefully. That has also been a foundational principle and everything that I’ve touched on along the way.

It has probably roots in my early recovery too. You get a bunch of good drunks together. We are all messed up. We all recognize that. No one is greater or lesser very much so in my life. You hear it all the time. Judith Herman’s work on trauma recovery that healing happens in a relationship. How do we create a relationship that brings a person back to themselves with compassion? Isn’t that the focus of our work? Can we create a relationship that becomes a bridge, doorway or passageway back to the person falling back in love with themselves?

When I work with new clients, which I don’t have a chance to do as much anymore, and besides running Integrated Care Concepts and other projects, I still carry about a caseload of 15 to 17 clients a week. I didn’t build a business to not be a therapist, though I probably should be doing that. I had no other choice. That’s who I am.

When I first meet a client, I say to him, “Imagine you were hanging out at Starbucks down the street here and Larry Thompson walked in but by some twilight zone, science fiction movie-ish, another Larry Thompson walks in the right behind me. If I were to greet myself at Starbucks and you were watching that, how would you think that transaction would go? Would I come up to myself and give myself a big hug, or would I look at myself and walk out disgusted?”

I said, “Therapist, hold up.” If you boil down what we are doing here in my profession, it’s right there and then. If Larry Thompson is good with Larry Thompson, no matter where Larry Thompson goes, it’s going to be okay. You filter your life through yourself relationships. If I’m not good with Larry Thompson, you can drop me into any paradise in the world, and it wouldn’t register.

I believe that our job strongly in our profession is to help people create that healthier integrated relationship with themselves so that where they go, it’s going to be okay because they are okay. That’s a long answer to the direct question about passion, purpose, and a non-pathologizing attitude. It’s reuniting and falling back in love, maybe for the first time with oneself.

OYM Larry Thompson | Integrative Approach To Psychotherapy

Integrative Approach To Psychotherapy: Our job in this profession is to help people create that healthier, integrated relationship with themselves so that where they go, it will be okay.

 

You’ve mentioned things like ACEs, Adverse Childhood Events, and trauma. I like to ask people, what are the models and/or techniques that you find most useful in helping you help somebody who’s got a lot of ACEs, Adverse Childhood Events or traumas in their life when they come to you for assistance?

What arises my awareness when I hear you ask is that the first thing that flashes up is that trauma-informed care doesn’t start in the therapy room. Trauma-informed care starts with a phone call. If that person in my office who’s answering that phone is not present and if that presence isn’t communicated in a tone and quality of their voice, that person who is hyper-aroused or hypo-aroused and terrified, anxious, and traumatized never makes it into my waiting room.

When they come to my waiting room, is the waiting room inviting? Is the physical environment soothing or are they coming into a very sterile and imposing environment? Our waiting rooms are designed to be more like boutiques with essential oils to look at, singing bowls, and things of interest that give their whole nervous system a sense that this is safe or safer, at least curious.

That front desk person, was that welcoming? Are they present too where they can say, “Welcome. I see you?” If you come into my office, what’s the color palette of the office? Are the lights dimmable? Are we asking how the temperature in the room is for the client? Subtly asking them to check in with their nervous system as they come in. Is the light okay? Is the temperature okay? Is the room okay? Give them a tour of the office, so they know where the egress and access are. They have a good sense of where they are at and where they can find the safety they need.

All these small touches set the table for hopefully what’s going to happen in the therapy office. We train our staff to do a very thorough introduction. Even before the work happens, if that client doesn’t know who you are and how you operate, then how do they drop into the work? Once you get into the work, there’s a whole toolbox opens up. During that first 1 or 2 conversations, we start developing a sense of what tools may be most helpful. It’s not one size fits all. Every person’s story is so unique.

The mind-body approach is essential. Marsha Linehan’s work is what I first got exposed to right out of college. DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, that infusion of mindfulness and mind-body approaches into this cognitive relationship with their behaviors, fit right into my curiosity and early training in mindfulness. It was a good fit.

I’m always trying to help them start with taking a breath, dropping in, and getting an embodied presence going so we can move from trauma brain functioning to more present learning brain functioning. If that client is up aroused from trauma and anxiety, then it’s water on a rock. You might feel rooted and good about what you are saying but it may not be able to penetrate. What informs our practice? It’s polyvagal.

Porges’s work is so wonderful. Marsha Linehan’s work is so wonderful. Amy Weintraub’s work, LifeForce Yoga, is so wonderful. Understand that mind and body must show together for the work to happen. We start customizing approaches because depending on how a person journeys, how they care, and how they have been carrying what they have been carrying, sometimes mindfulness meditation is not a good fit for that person.

OYM Larry Thompson | Integrative Approach To Psychotherapy

Integrative Approach To Psychotherapy: Mind and body have to show up together for the work to happen.

 

We start giving tastes of things. We are doing drop-ins, talking, and noticing arousal states. We might pause in the session to come back down to start again. This is an inherent exposure response approach to their nervous system as I look upon what they have been carrying, hopefully, an environment of compassion. We have many offices here that are also yoga studios.

We have several clinicians who are dually credentialed, having an LCSW or LPC credential and a yoga cert credential. Integrated Care Concepts is integrative mental health. We have 5 prescribers of medication, 4 psychiatrists, 1 APN, and 65 therapists. The joke is that we are Baskin-Robbins therapy. We got a flavor for everybody. Sand tray, art, eco, equine, DBT, CBT, all the Ts. What flavor is going to be best for that client?

We have ten mind-body people who are either dual credentialed or credentialed in a mind-body discipline like breathwork, trauma-informed yoga, concepts of yoga, and iRest Yoga Nidra, which is one of my favorites. Richard Miller’s work of the greater restoration of Yoga Nidra, which I love so much. Also, art, sand play, brain spotting, EMDR, and tapping.

The Buddha said, “Don’t look at me as a way. I’m just a finger pointing to the moon.” It’s the idea that there are so many different answers and ways that has to be customized. Dr. Ron Siegel, the Chair of the Harvard School of Psychotherapy and Meditation and also a great author, talks about customizing mindfulness. What approach is going to work for that person? I try not to have too many attachments and concepts but I do.

I do believe that developing a quality of mindfulness is pivotal. It’s very hard to learn Algebra II if your head is always on fire and you are always distracted. How do we help people clear a dense forest of their trauma, anxiety, depression, and addiction so they can greet themselves to develop a new skill? I’m not a pill pusher. None of our psychiatrists are pill pushers but we believe and understand that it’s hard to learn a new skill like mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness if your brain is on fire.

Sometimes medication is a bridge for skills to develop but skills develop neuroplasticity. The brain structures change so that meds may no longer be needed. All our prescribers see vacation as a bridge if and when necessary and not a destination. There’s not one approach here. It’s about customizing approaches in this collaborative way. To even drill down further, the key to trauma-informed care is befriending, mitigating or addressing anxiety on both sides of that equation.

We train our staff. Is the clinician present? What might hijack them from being present? It’s their anxiety of, “Can I handle the clients coming in with? Am I good enough?” It’s all the anxiety in the back curtain of our profession. Don’t look behind the curtain. Behind that curtain inside that clinician can be a whole amusement park of ego threading and anxiety.

How do we help our staff at every level of the access and reception person to feel present and work with their anxiety in a way so they can be present? We appreciate that anxiety and trauma are barriers to the attachment. If we understand that our profession is looking at helping people attach themselves to attaching to another first, then we need to be mindful of trauma-informed approaches to address that barrier to the attachment.

What’s that barrier? If the clinician is freaked out, that can be a problem with the attachment. How do we care for our staff? Has trauma-informed care started with trauma-informed approaches to your staff? It’s like Lawrence Shulman’s work on international supervision, the parallel process. Are you caring for your staff so they can care for our clients?

Thinking about, “If I’m coming in with my child, my partner or myself looking for help, I’m desperate, anxious, terrified, and confused,” I’m probably going to want to know about you before I let you know about me. Our profession is crazy. We ask people to come in states of anxiety and trauma and tell us all their secrets. “You don’t know me. You don’t know my approach. You don’t know what’s going on here but tell me all about you because I have some diploma on the wall.”

We train our staff to make sure clients know us. “I’m Larry Thompson. I slow down if I talk too fast. I get passionate about what I say. My wife tells me I could talk to her chair and have a good conversation. Please help me make sure we talk about what you want to talk about.” I spend 15, 20 to 30 minutes in the first session framing out what it means to work with me so that they have a good sense of whom they are getting involved in. Inform consent. Are we informing that client about what they are sending when they work with us? Are we doing that job besides signing some piece of paper? When you talk about a non-pathologizing collaborative approach, it starts with the go and phone call. It’s not just in the clinical room.

Is there a trick to slowing you down? Do you offer some tips to your clients on how to get you to slow down?

What I offer are check-ins and permission. You know how it works. Once you identify that’s my vulnerability, awareness shows up about that vulnerability. During the first 2 to 3 sessions, a client was like, “They didn’t give me permission to stop him. Is that true?” We still have that inherent power in the session. What I find myself doing to invite more of that collaboration is I will pause. “How does that land to you? Does that make sense to you? Am I still on the right track here? Am I lecturing? Please tell me.” I am trying to drop in with them about using that in the 30-year session. The year listening to the client, to you, and what’s going on between you two. Speaking to that and observing energy is what I try to do to invite them in but I try giving that tool.

The other thing is when you are tuned into their autonomic responses, physiology, body language, little eyebrow raises, nods, and breath patterns can be the thing that you use to let you know that they don’t believe they have permission to slow you down.

Dr. Siegel talks about exactly what you are saying. How I am with you is not too dissimilar to how I am. The first implication of the application of mindfulness in the clinical session is the practitioner’s use of that. Being present to be present with them and notice them in all the changes or the hypo, hyper-arouse, and that thing that happens.

Stephen Porges calls it neuroception. It’s that part of your nervous system that’s sensing the vibration of that moment, the energy in the room, the energy being created by YouTube but also that embodied intuitive felt experience of the client with you and yearly with them. I cannot stress more how important that neuroceptive experience is. There’s so much that’s lost on a Telehealth platform that when you are in a relation, the whole person relation is so important.

That neuroceptive cue for the therapist and the client is, to my mind, irreplaceable, especially in trauma work. I do Telehealth and will provide that for clients that I’ve known for a while who I can understand how their vocal quality communicates their legal nerve state and use that as biofeedback in some respect. I don’t get my soapbox too much but it’s that present embodied full experience, so you know where the client is at. If a clinician is employing mindfulness, it elevates all that awareness to make the moment more efficient and effective.

One of the things you said that’s critical is the therapist or the clinician being mindful. Not necessarily teaching mindfulness techniques to the person in front of them but being mindful, applying those techniques, and doing their check-in, living in the question, as a rookie would say, without demanding the answer. Staying open in that way is critical.

Also, the appropriate use of self-disclosure.

You are right, and yet it’s loaded. If you don’t have clarity about your issues and triggers, then you don’t even know what that means. I read in a book once that it’s okay to tell them that I tripped when I was in grade school and scraped my knee so that I will throw that in. That’s where what you were talking about is that the supervision of the clinician is so important.

That recognition rises my awareness that our graduate schools still teach our graduates effective use of self and social work. Every intern and new therapist I supervise has no idea what that means. They are like, “What are you talking about?” Schools teach you therapy but we teach you how to be a therapist. My use of self-disclosure is more about modeling.

OYM Larry Thompson | Integrative Approach To Psychotherapy

Integrative Approach To Psychotherapy: Schools teach you therapy, but we teach you how to be a therapist.

 

It’s like what happened in this transaction. You mentioned, “Use yourself.” Tim, when I hear you say that, this thought rises in my awareness. I’m modeling what’s arising. I’m not so much going into my childhood trauma but in the present moment, when you say that or look this way or not look this way, I’m noticing this arising, going back to the phenomenological approach of George Atwood’s work. Also, being able to disclose that so that the client knows I’m here with you using all of my parts and pieces here free of service.

That’s not trained in schools. Effective use yourself. I go out and be like, “I’m going to be a therapist. What does that mean?” You are right. It’s loaded. I appreciate why schools may not necessarily go into it as much. I appreciate the sanction our profession has about self-disclosure. There’s a nuance there and a vocational development that has to happen there as well too. If I don’t know myself, my internal architecture, God knows it will come out of my mouth, hence the practice of self-compassion and mindfulness very much so.

I look at the clock and realize we’ve only got maybe ten minutes left if we stretch it. If you settle in for a minute and think about this. You’ve talked about a lot of different things. Is there something that you’ve already talked about that you want to go back and highlight or some aspect of either you as a therapist or the primary work you do with clients that we haven’t even touched on yet that you would like to share with us?

What rises when I hear you ask that question is that the organization is a more thoughtful application to how we care for our profession. Our client’s care is directly related to the clinicians’ care. It’s all Kristin Neff’s work about self-compassion. I can spend hours talking about the importance of that and how that shows up in the clinical hour. She is a trailhead. There are so many people behind that.

A frontline clinician is working at a community mental health center or a private practice. They are being told by the administration, “I want you to be a loving, unconditional pause-regarded object that will use empathy as a change agent to support clients’ recovery.” “Yes, sir. Yes, ma’am.” There you are. What they don’t say is, “Do as we say, not as we do.” There were so many organizations that I grew up in.

One of the missions of Integrated Care Concepts is to learn from that suffering. Many organizations, hospitals, and not-for-profits shoo therapists up, which impacts the collaborative relationship that’s so important with their clients because there’s no parallel process. “Do as I say, not as I do but we are not going to refresh, hold or listen to you. It’s not going to be a collaboration between you and us.”

The frontline clinician has to protect their client oftentimes from the organization and themselves from both. They get sandwiched, crushed, and blown out. We need more wholehearted and whole-minded integrated clinicians in a society that is relationally deprived. In 2007, when we opened the iPhone box, we had no idea what Pandora was going to be.

We need more wholehearted, whole-minded, and integrated clinicians. Click To Tweet

From 2007 on, the instance of anxiety, depression, and suicide have gone up by a power of ten, especially with certain populations. It has not brought us together, so we are more relationally deprived. The nuclear family has been dismantled. You have 2, 3 or 4 income homes in 2022. We barely know each other and ourselves in our house. Once every ten years, we bump into ourselves as Derek Walcott in his poem Love After Love. You bump into yourself every ten years to try to engage ourselves.

In that environment, we need frontline clinicians to be the best clinicians possible. If all our professions say relationships drive outcomes, are we creating the relationship with the clinician and the front office person? When that client comes in, their neuroception says, “This place is safe because these people want to be here.” I saw that psychiatrist say hello to their front desk person, which felt authentic. They are not thinking this but they are feeling and knowing this.

Why would you bring your child who’s self-harming to the institution that you get from the go that the receptionist doesn’t want to be here? That goes misunderstood or not honored. I appreciate it. I learned it in business. No managed care company is paying me to supervise people. Medicaid doesn’t pay you to provide good care for your front desk staff.

I don’t want to go too far off but it makes sense. It’s logical to care for your staff in a way that models how you want them to care for the people you care about. We spend a lot of time here with a lot of development, some revision, team building, and self-care practices for our staff. All our mind-body stuff our staff can drop into. We do staff sound bathing and iRest Yoga Nidra.

How do we help them feel held so they could hold? This commodity we are making our profession out to be is dangerous. It’s not a commodity. It’s a relationship. It’s counterintuitive to pause and say, “Perhaps we can get into a relationship, Tim, that might bring you some placement yourself. Let’s time doing that.” Amazon can’t drop that off at your house by a drone later on. That parallel process and trauma-informed approach do not work looking at the client. It’s got to look at the staff and make sure we are whole people trying to help hold people.

This commodity we're making our profession out to be is dangerous. Click To Tweet

It seems to me quite the challenge the more clinicians you have. You have a lot of clinicians, so my hat is off to you if you are able to continue at least even to focus on creating that.

We do consultation groups. We have a consultation group on IFS, polyvagal, and DBT. Our staff gets paid to go. It’s volunteer basis so that they get an investment in their professional and personal development. We have all these self-care activities we do. We are yoga people. Come meditate with Larry every Thursday at 2:00. Come do trauma-informed yoga with Ryan every Tuesday morning at 9:00. We have sound bathing, yoga, and meditation.

We are trying to create that type of environment. Years ago, we started with 4 staff, and in 2022, we have 119. It’s very humbling that all these people would come and want to share this mission. Honoring everyone is very important. It’s that equanimity and the real practice of that. The psychiatrist is not more important. The intern is not less important than the access person. This job is hard. Going into trauma work is hard. Let’s not make it harder on each other.

OYM Larry Thompson | Integrative Approach To Psychotherapy

Integrative Approach To Psychotherapy: Going into trauma work is hard. Let’s not make it harder on each other.

 

Can we have fun and support each other? It’s hard work. Paying more attention to that is important, and no payer does that. It’s up to the organizations to understand the logic. I love Jon Kabat-Zinn, who talks about mindfulness being mind training. All these practices are not just spiritual and feel-good practices but they are logic. It makes sense.

When they work, and they are practical, then that’s the only thing that allows you to continue to do it. Spending all that time and money on it and it’s not working, then it doesn’t last.

There’s a whole other side of the conversation about how you keep a practice model going in a very hostile economic and market force context.

Do you teach that? Can people come and pay you to learn that?

I do some business consulting. I have been asked to talk to people. Please learn from my mistakes and suffering. When Bessel van der Kolk first did his book launch, The Body Keeps the Score. He went to Kripalu in the Berkshires, Massachusetts, to do a workshop. I went to see him. It’s a wonderful book. He has a wonderful brain and is a wonderful person.

I was having lunch with him. He’s very accessible. I was sitting down with him and said, “What is your practice model in Boston? How do you guys do what you do with this integrated thing?” He looked at me and said, “What do you guys do in Jersey?” I said, “This is what we do. We have these multiple disciplines that somehow, through relationship and respect, have chosen to work together. It was easy to get a psychiatrist if it was in the same room as the other person. We were able to do that. We customized case by case. We share cases.”

“A client comes and sees a doctor. Maybe think about antidepressants first in our therapy. We are working with a doctor. We suggest maybe ecotherapy would be helpful too. We have this care plan that we’ve created with this client that includes all these different disciplines under one roof.” It’s best that I can say that to Bessel. I said, “There is no model. No one knows. We are all developing it. Keep in touch.” We keep on trying to figure it out.

The dual credential is the last thing I would want to say. I believe the next evolution of our profession is people having clinical credentials. LPC, PhD, LCSW, and a mind-body credential. Back in the day, having an LCADC and LCSW was more marketable. The new evolution is an RYT, CIYT, and LCSW so that you can, in the same hour, take the same copay and work in the same mind-body. If people try to get yoga individually, it’s $175 an hour because insurance doesn’t cover it.

Me being LCSW and trained in iRest Yoga Nidra. I can employ that as my clinical practice. It removes the cost barrier so people can learn this stuff that may save their lives in that respect. Catherine passed from breast cancer when I was 38, and my son was 8. Catherine helped launch Integrated Care Concepts. Love came knocking a few years later, and my beloved Judy brought yoga into the practice.

Our lifelong dream had been to develop a yoga teacher training series for clinicians. I’m very happy to say that we have launched that. Judy completed her Master’s in Yoga Science from Maryland and has started three cohorts of clinicians learning to use trauma-informed yoga to get a $200-hour RYT cert to build on that. All those years came from our exposure to Amy Weintraub, Richard Miller, and all those wonderful elders. It’s not that we have new ideas but we brought them together maybe in a unique way.

As we were talking to set this up, we could probably do 2 or 3 hours. I greatly appreciate your time and willingness to share. I look forward to trying to hook you into another interview before too long.

You’ve made this easy. Thank you. I appreciate the honor of chatting with you.

Blessings.

Larry Thompson is a social worker who was trained at New York University. He earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work. His theoretical orientation is in the use of self and Zen psychology and psychodynamic object relations theories. He was formerly the Director of Children’s Mobile Response in Ocean County and Team Leader for Monmouth County’s PACT team.

Larry holds post-graduate certificates in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Parent Education from Rutgers University. Larry incorporates his training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Analytic Therapy with nature and holistic approaches in work with adolescents, individuals, and families. Larry’s passion for integrating a total wellness approach continues to carry over into his professional and personal life. He has completed a post-graduate certificate through Drexel in Complementary and Integrative Therapies, so as to offer his clients additional options for their wellness recovery, as well as iRest Yoga Nidra meditation through the Integrative Restoration Institute.

 

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About Larry Thompson

OYM Larry Thompson | Integrative Approach To PsychotherapyLarry Thompson, LCSW, was trained at New York University’s School of Social Work and earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work. His theoretical orientation is in the use of self & Zen psychology and psychodynamic-object relations theories of psychology. He was formerly the Director of Children’s Mobile Response in Ocean County and Team Leader for Monmouth County PACT team.

Larry holds post-graduate certificates in Child/Adolescent Mental Health and Parent Education from Rutgers University. Larry incorporates his training in Dialectic Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Analytic Therapy with nature and holistic approaches in work with adolescents, individuals, and families.

Larry’s passion for integrating a total wellness approach continues to carry over into his professional and personal life. He has completed a post-graduate certificate through Drexel in Complementary and Integrative Therapies, so as to offer his clients additional options for their wellness recovery, as well as iRest yoga nidra meditation through the Integrative Restoration Institute.

 

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