Resetting the Immune System: An EMDR Approach with a Focus on PANS/PANDAS is back with an expanded, 6-hour format — offering more comprehensive content and more time for Q&A! The next live, virtual training will take place on Saturday, February 10th. You can view full course details and register for the upcoming training here.
This innovative training brings together the fields of EMDR and Immunopsychiatry to propose a novel approach to working with clients who suffer from autoimmune inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and PANS/PANDAS.
When Jenna first offered this course there was high demand and very positive feedback. Overwhelmingly, participants wanted more time to dive deeper into the topic. This newly expanded format goes beyond EMDR’s History Taking and Preparation Phases to include more detailed information about how to proceed through all the prongs and phases of EMDR Therapy, highlighted by case examples and practicum exercises.
We recently sat down with Jenna to talk more about the evolution of this idea and this training. Here’s what she had to say:
Q: There has been so much interest in this training — why do you think there is such a need for information on how to work with clients with PANS/PANDAS and autoimmune or inflammatory disorders?
I think it’s a hot topic because so many people are impacted every single day with various autoimmune disorders, and they have been dismissed by medical professionals for far too many years. The medical community is finally beginning to acknowledge the connection between the mind, the body, mental health, and the immune system again. It seems every other commercial these days is for a medication to address an autoimmune symptom, and I think we often forget how much healing our body can do on its own with the right work, often including trauma work.
Q: What gave you the idea to do the resetting the immune system protocol?
I was sitting in consultation with Paul Miller when he introduced the Textbook of Immunopsychiatry. I have a chemistry/pharmacy background, and was really intrigued by the book so I purchased it right away during the group. As I started reading about the immune system being a memory network, I immediately thought about Katie O’Shea’s protocol: Resetting the Affective Circuits, (available in the book When there Are No Words: Repairing Early Trauma and Neglect from the Attachment Period with EMDR Therapy, with Sandra Paulson) and thought: “why can’t I do that with the immune system?” I literally took out her worksheet and wrote the words “inflammation, suppression, healthy” on it, and that’s where it started.
Q: You debuted this topic at EMDR Canada in the spring of 2023. How did it go? How was the information received?
It was amazing! Everybody was super friendly and supportive of the information I shared. Presenting was a great experience, but the best part of the conference for me was the vast array of presenters and innovative ideas. After 20 years practicing in this field, it was lovely to continue to learn new strategies and techniques at an in-person conference event.
Q: In September of 2023, you led a 3 hour live, virtual training that covered information on immunopsychiatry, and PANS/PANDAS, and then guided participants through the procedural steps of identifying and processing implicitly stored information that could be contributing to their clients’ inflammatory responses. That training focused primarily on Phases 1 and 2 of EMDR (History Taking and Preparation). What was your biggest takeaway from the first round of this training?
I was so impressed by the level of participation in that training. I got really positive feedback and realized that there is a real need for more focus on this topic. My biggest takeaway from the feedback was that this really needed to become a longer training. Participants wanted more information on how to move through all the phases and prongs of EMDR with clients from these populations, and more information on how to work with autoimmune conditions beyond PANS. There’s also a real demand for specialized consultation in this area.
Q: What are you adding to this version of the course that you think will be helpful to therapists?
With the luxury of more time, I will be sharing more research, more information on autoimmune disorders outside of PANS, some specific case examples, a written flow of a case from start to finish (through all the phases of EMDR) and more time for questions. I’m also adding an optional consultation series, where participants can add on three, monthly consultation group meetings in order to get guidance on particular cases and areas of challenge, or to ask more in-depth questions about any of the material. These can be tricky cases, and I’m realizing that there is a huge need for sharing support and information. I want to begin to create more community around this so that therapists can feel more confident and more people in need can eventually get quality treatment from experienced providers.
Q: What are some of the positive changes you have seen using this protocol and/or EMDR with these clients?
Beyond the immediate reduction of symptoms during sessions (and outside of sessions), what I hear from clients that seems to be the most consistent is a “better connection with their bodies” and a different understanding and acceptance of the relationship between the immune system, brain and body. It overall just seems to work in better harmony. By changing our relationship to the “problem” we can often transform the experience.
Q: How has the Resetting the Immune System protocol changed how you experience doing therapy with clients who are impacted by neuroinflammation?
I use the Resetting with all my clients as prep work, and then as needed for maintenance, or sometimes during a session. I’ll be giving examples of this during the next training. More and more people are coming to me for EMDR therapy with PANS and autoimmune disorders because they’ve heard from some of my past clients about the significant changes in their symptoms.
Q: Can you work with families as well as individuals using these approaches?
Absolutely, I am actually working on a group protocol for resetting the immune system with hopes that it can be utilized in support groups for children with PANS, adults with autoimmune disorders, and other medical disorders and I would like to perhaps focus on a group with cancer survivors.
This is exciting news – sounds like we’ll be looking forward to a new group protocol training from you soon!
Connect Training + Consulting offers an array of EMDRIA-Approved Basic and Advanced EMDR Trainings and specialty trainings, with in-person, virtual, and on-demand options. You can check out Connect’s Full Training Calendar here.