You don’t have to be a military veteran or first responder to be exposed to trauma. Many athletes have endured traumatic experiences in training, in racing and in life that impair their ability to train and race and enjoy multisport to their full potential.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is more common than we think. As many as 8 million adults in the US have PTSD (Sidran Institute, 2018). The diagnostic symptoms of PTSD are recurrent nightmares, flashbacks and rapidly rising negative emotions triggered by memories of the traumatic event.
Some athletes avoid certain situations because of the negative emotions that those situations can trigger. One athlete got seriously crawled over in his first open water swim; after that, he dreaded the swim leg, and even though a very strong swimmer, he started in the back of his wave to avoid any contact. That led him to slower swim times that his pool pace would predict and also had him suffering from acute pre-race nerves.
Another athlete had a bike crash on a windy day, waking up in a roadside ditch with the bike’s rear stays crushed and the back wheel potato-chipped. She does not remember the event, but on any even vaguely windy day would not ride her bike outside.
Fortunately, a technique called the Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories Protocol (RTM) has been achieving remarkably high rates of complete cure. I’ve been fortunate to be part of a clinical research team testing RTM on military veterans and first responders. Working through the Mind Research Center in Albuquerque, NM, our team has treated more than 160 clients in several research studies. The research study design began with qualifying subjects scoring above threshold in PTSD tests (PCL 5), followed by a brain scan to detect areas high brain activity. Then, after three RTM administrations of 60-90 minutes each over one week, another brain scan.
In the sample population, we have seen between 90 and 96% of patients enjoying a complete cure, determined by brain imaging, PCL 5 test scores and reporting of elimination of nightmares, flashbacks and rapidly ascending negative emotions around trigger events. The results publication is now in review (Lewin, J. in prep).
The RTM protocol uses re-imagining of the traumatic event in the client’s own mind, in a safe, comfortable environment that avoids having the client re-experience the trauma. The client sees the event from a distant, dissociated vantage, which helps the brain alter the structure of the memory, while not eliminating it (Gray, R. and F. Bourke, 2015). The client can remember the event without having it trigger unpleasant symptoms. Just as you can remember brushing your teeth or putting on your shoes this morning, the client’s traumatic members become just another memory.
In 1984, researcher Steve Andreas of Boulder, CO, used an early version of this technique to relieve a woman of her phobia of bees, which she acquired after falling into a wasp nest and being stung “hundreds of times.” Twenty-five years after that single treatment, Steve interviewed the client on video, to see if the cure had lasted over time. The four-minute follow up video is worth watching. We now know that RTM is effective, is fast, is comfortable and non-traumatizing, and produces lasting relief.
The next step of our research team is to train clinicians to administer the RTM protocol. We held our first training course in September, 2018, with 32 clinicians. We plan to train 10,000 clinicians in the next three years, and presently have a proposal before the US Army to train 3000 Army clinicians.
I have administered the RTM protocol with veterans who served in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as athletes with swim and bike traumas and traumas in other walks of life. I have seen remarkable, rapid improvements in their quality of life. One of the Vietnam veterans had suffered the very same nightmare every night for 50 years (literally), waking in terror at 1:30 every single night. The day after our first treatment, I asked him how he slept last night. He said, “Fine, until my wife woke me up. Why? When I didn’t climb the walls at 1:30 in the morning she shook me awake because she thought I was dead.”
If you have suffered trauma, with its memories causing you nightmares, flashbacks or avoidance behavior, you don’t have to suffer these symptoms any longer. Even if you don’t compare your trauma to that of military veterans, if it interferes with your ability to lead the life you want, RTM may help. In most cases, one RTM session produces the desired result and lets you get back to your life.
For more information about PTSD or RTM, contact me directly (Will@willmurraycompany.com) and we will get all your questions answered.
Will Murray is D3’s go-to Mental Skills Performance Coach. He is a USAT Certified Coach and holds a Practitioner’s Certificate and more than 100 hours of advanced training in Neuro-Lingustic Programming. He brings a large tool kit with specific techniques that are fast, effective, easy and durable to help athletes make useful changes in their lives – right away. Because these techniques are designed to be testable immediately, working together, we can ensure you get the gains you want in three sessions or fewer.
Andreas, S. (2009). Fast Phobia Cure 25-year follow up. Boulder, CO: Real People Press. Retrieved from youTube
Gray, R. and Bourke, F. (2012). Remediation of intrusive symptoms of PTSD in fewer than five sessions: A 30-person pre-pilot study of the RTM Protocol. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health. 1 (2) 2015.
Lewine, J. (2018). Quantitative EEG Markers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
Baseline Observations and Impact of the Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM) Treatment Protocol. In prep.
Sidran Institute. (2018) Retrieved from Sidran