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Mervin R. Smucker, Ph.D., is an Experienced Psychologist

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Proposed therapy algorithm for trauma sufferers (Mervin Smucker 2015)

Contending that no empirically-supported CBT treatment is appropriate for all types of traumas and trauma characteristics, Smucker and colleagues (2003) advanced an individualized trauma algorithm treatment model that offers therapists empirically-based guidelines for determining which specific interventions are best suited for a particular individual’s trauma characteristics and symptoms.  As part of their model, an initial assessment is conducted of the individual’s specific trauma characteristics, from which a determination is made whether therapy should begin with stabilization or trauma-processing interventions.  A further component of their trauma assessment focuses on identifying an individual’s predominant trauma-related emotion(s), which, in turn, influences which specific trauma-processing interventions are implemented.  The authors propose that when fear is the predominant emotion and avoidance the primary coping strategy, exposure (imaginal and/or in vivo exposure) may be indicated, whereas when non-fear emotions are predominant, therapy may begin with cognitive restructuring interventions.

Mervin Smucker

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A Psychodynamic Approach to Trauma and PTSD – Mervin Smucker (2015)

The central focus of psychodynamic therapy with trauma and PTSD is to reconcile the traumatic event(s) and to complete information processing of the trauma in a supportive environment. Horowitz (1979, 1986) developed a brief psychodynamic therapy directed at the discontinuation of traumatic symptomatology and not at achieving personality change. He theorized that when overcontrol (e.g., avoidance behaviours, denial, emotional numbness) becomes overwhelming, undercontrol (intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares) results as a failed defensive mechanism. In short, until traumatized individuals develop some insight into the conscious and unconscious meaning of their precipitating symptoms, high emotional intensity associated with their traumatic memory registry will likely continue to repeat itself.

Dr. Mervin Smucker is an international trauma consultant and author of numerous articles and books on trauma and cognitive-behavioural therapy interventions.

“Imagery Rescripting and Reprocessing Therapy and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” by Dr. Mervin Smucker

An innovative form of treatment, Imagery Rescripting and Reprocessing Therapy, or IRRT, uses imagery-focused interventions to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The genesis of the method comes from the belief that much of the reaction to a traumatic event occurs through sensations and images rather than words. Therefore, treating PTSD solely through language becomes difficult.

Through IRRT, clients simultaneously undergo imaginal reliving, which reactivates the traumatic memory, and imaginal imagery, which uses coping imagery to alter the traumatic memory. During this process, patients change the negative experience into a positive one that re-imagines them as empowered individuals rather than victims. Successful IRRT sessions transform how people react to the event and eliminate related feelings such as powerlessness, culpability, and incompetence.

About the Author:

An international trainer, consultant, and lecturer, Dr. Mervin R. Smucker hosts cognitive behavioral therapy trauma workshops and seminars across the world. The creator of IRRT, Dr. Mervin Smucker wrote about its benefits in caring for people with PTSD in 2012.

Mervin Smucker’s Chess Tips for Beginners

Mervin Smucker is an internationally known psychologist and one of the many millions of people all over the world who plays chess as a hobby. Compared to most board games, chess offers an exceptional depth of strategy, with thousands of entire books having been written on the subject. For novice players, it can all seem a bit overwhelming. Mervin R. Smucker provides some general tips sure to help hone any new player’s game.

1. Play as much as possible. The advice might seem like a no-brainer, but with the wealth of chess-related materials available, including puzzles, books, records of famous games, it is easy to forget that the best way to get better at chess is to simply play chess whenever the opportunity presents itself. Look critically at finished games players in order to understand what worked and what did not.

2. Start with a broad overview. As a player’s skill begins to come into focus through playing dozens of games and trying to learn from past mistakes, a book or two on the subject of chess becomes a logical next step. Rather than examining any particular aspect of the game, start with a general overview that can impart a better sense of the flow of the game as a whole.

3. Cultivate strong thinking. Making a cursory examination of the game board and following up with the first move that looks good may be tempting. However, an initially obvious move may not seem so advantageous a few turns later as the board develops. New players especially should not be afraid to take a lot of time considering each move. Thinking deeply and clearly about the game at hand, sustaining focus on the game, and visualizing possible outcomes are vital abilities that can be strengthened with practice.

4. Play lots of computer chess. It can be particularly instructive to play against a highly skilled computer. Although you will likely never win when playing against the computer, you can learn a lot about the strategies of various openings and then transfer what you learn from the computer to games played with humans.

5. Analyze chess games played by experts: analyze the strategies used, including a close-up look at the moves and counter-moves of each player.

Millersville University’s Graduate Clinical Psychology Program

Dr. Mervin R. Smucker earned a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology from Millersville University in Pennsylvania. He then completed a Doctor of Philosophy in the same discipline at Penn State’s University Park campus.
Millersville University offers two tracks for graduate study of psychology: clinical and school. In each case, students earn a Master of Science upon completion of the program. The department awards a certification in school counseling for students working on a Master of Education.

Each student decides how many credits to pursue toward an M.S. in Clinical Psychology. Those who plan to enter a Doctoral program, following their Master’s level work, need only finish 42 credits; those seeking to become professional counselors and enter the workforce are encouraged to earn 60 credits. All students studying the clinical discipline must complete three core classes: psychopathology, research design and statistical analysis, and child development in the family system. To become eligible for a degree, students must meet several criteria, including achieving a 3.0 GPA in core courses, passing three core competency exams, and receiving favorable ratings from the graduate committee.

In addition to attending classes, all students in the clinical psychology program at Millersville must complete 600 hours of fieldwork. While most states require this workload of candidates seeking licensure, the University’s faculty insists that students not seeking licensure also complete this training. Taking place in the spring, the hands-on experience may not occur at a student’s current place of employment. Degree candidates can begin looking for a site in the fall, when the University provides a list of resources. Upon completion of the practicum, students earn six credits toward their diplomas.

The department encourages graduates to keep indefinitely the records of their coursework, including syllabi. In some cases, licensing agencies will ask for additional information regarding an applicant’s training.

Antioch College

Before launching his career as a clinical psychologist and researcher, Mervin R. Smucker received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Foreign Languages from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Established in 1852 by the Christian Connection, a religious movement in the United States during the 1800s, Antioch College opened its doors in 1853. Antioch College, the primary institution within the Antioch University system, remains known for providing students with written evaluations instead of traditional letter grades.

During its early years, Antioch College instructed students in traditional subjects such as history, philosophy, mathematics, Latin, and Greek. Students also earned the opportunity to choose among electives in modern languages, botany, art, and pedagogy. Horace Mann, the first president of Antioch College, delivered a commencement speech in 1859 that included the current motto of the school: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

Today, the curriculum at Antioch College has expanded to include a wide array of fields and a special emphasis on interdisciplinary study. Divided into four areas of concentration–arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences—the academics at Antioch College focus on providing students with a well-rounded liberal arts education. Antioch College also offers a number of global seminars designed to introduce students to global issues that extend beyond the reach of the classroom. The seminars, which often feature notable guest speakers and visitors, help students discover their passions and prepare them for their lives as global citizens.

Students at Antioch College also benefit from a co-op work program, which requires them to work in full-time positions every other term and collect college credit. In the past, students have held positions within a wide variety of organizations, including nonprofit organizations, hospitals, museums, and government agencies. Through its co-op work program, Antioch College hopes to provide students with a diverse range of experiences in both academic and professional settings. By leaving campus and working with real-world organizations, students mature and develop valuable leadership and problem-solving skills, as well as a clearer picture of their goals.

Milwaukee Magazine

In 1994 and 2001, Mervin R. Smucker gained recognition as one of the top psychologists, according to a peer review in Milwaukee Magazine. Headquartered in the Historic Third Ward district of downtown Milwaukee, the magazine boasts a readership of more than 200,000 and refers to itself as “Southeastern Wisconsin’s most authoritative source for events and dining.” Printed once a month by Quad/Graphics, Milwaukee Magazine belongs to the City and Regional Magazine Association.

The dining section of Milwaukee Magazine offers comprehensive reviews of restaurants in the Milwaukee area and tip on where to find the best daily discounts. Visitors to the website enjoy access to the Milwaukee Magazine restaurant finder, which sorts restaurants by cuisine, location, or other keywords. Milwaukee Magazine also publishes an Events section, which provides detailed calendars and descriptions of events occurring in the area. The Events section contains a wide variety of entertainment destinations, including theater, music, and art.

In addition to the dining and events sections, Milwaukee Magazine features columns that tackle a host of distinctive subjects. Murphy’s Law, a column by staff writer Bruce Murphy, recently reported on the state of Wisconsin’s response to environmental violations. Another column from Erik Gunn, titled Pressroom Buzz, recently dealt with issues ranging from the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in 2003 to Green Bay Packers fullback John Kuhn.

To learn more about Milwaukee Magazine or to fill out a subscription, visit the website at www.milwaukeemagazine.com.

Imagery to Assist Cognitive Restructuring

FAQ: Using Imagery to Assist in Cognitive Restructuring of Trauma In 2001, Dr. Mervin R. Smucker, a psychologist who graduated with a B.A. from Antioch College and a Ph.D. in psychology from Pennsylvania State University, held a workshop on using imagery to improve the results of exposure and cognitive restructuring for victims recovering from abuse and assault. The following is a brief overview of the information presented.

Much like the techniques he promotes, Dr. Mervin R. Smucker utilized visuals such as video demonstrations in conjunction with lectures and case examples to advocate his use of imagery as a means of therapeutic recovery. He explained that the goal is to first rely on imagery to gain access to cognitions related to assault, such as memories, schemas, and flashbacks. Moving forward, he advocates imagery to challenge those cognitions and finally modify them. Dr. Smucker’s use of imagery to modify cognitions was particularly fascinating. He described how patients were taught concepts such as self-nurturing imagery, which aided in reducing traumatic memories and replacing them with mastery imagery, giving patients control over their flashbacks and memories.

Those interested in learning more about the techniques discussed in the highly recommended workshop should read the doctor’s works, which include Cognitive Behavioral Treatment for Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma: Imagery Rescripting and Reprocessing.

War and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, by Mervin Smucker

War veterans represent the population hardest hit by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Characterized as a type of prolonged anxiety that results from exposure to a traumatic event, PTSD affects thousands of soldiers each year, and is much more prevalent in times of war or combat. Individuals who suffer from this disorder can experience a myriad of symptoms that may vary in severity, including flashbacks, nightmares, night terrors, emotional outbursts, anger management problems, generalized anxiety, mood swings, depression, hopelessness, and despair.

According to many medical professionals, individuals exposed to combat or war-like settings experience a surge in fight–or-flight responses. With heightened senses and awareness while  in this state of mind, every detail and nuance is recorded in the brain. When a traumatic or stressful event occurs, the memory is then deeply embedded in the memory functions of the brain. As a result, PTSD sufferers have trouble forgetting even the most minute details of the traumatic event(s). Individuals may relive the occurrence again and again, as though it were happening today, and with each “re-living,” they re-experience the emotions and stressors that were present at the time of the traumatic event. Unfortunately, many individuals go into combat unprepared for what they will see and experience. War veterans face unique hurdles in overcoming this disorder.  However, with professional assistance, it is possible for traumatized war veterans to eventually get beyond their PTSD and, in many instances, move on and attain relatively productive and fulfilling lives.

About the Author:
Known for his work in the area of posttraumatic stress, Mervin Smucker has contributed to the implementation of a range of clinical techniques, including imagery rescripting, to assist individuals who are attempting to cope with and process past traumas. For over 30 years, Dr. Smucker has been a trainer, clinician, instructor, and consultant. Mervin Smucker has also conducted research on other disorders, and has published much of his research in numerous national and international medical journals.

Imagery Rescripting as a Therapeutic Agent for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, by Mervin Smucker, Ph.D.

Mervin Smucker, Ph.D. pioneered the field of imagery restructuring as a component of cognitive behavior therapy. In the following, Dr. Mervin Smucker discusses imagery rescripting as a therapeutic agent for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mental imagery often plays a key role in anxiety disorders. While clients seeking treatment for anxiety disorders such as PTSD often share verbal thoughts, they may leave out mental imagery unless prompted by their therapists. However, these mental images are present in all anxiety disorders and the images that patients see often relate to their main fears as a result of the disorder. For instance, in PTSD, intense mental imagery occurs during flashbacks of the precipitating event. Dr. Smucker emphasizes that imagery is important because it has a powerful effect on negative emotion, and cognitive behavior studies show it actually has more of an impact than verbal processing.

In cognitive behavior therapy, which has proven effective for treating PTSD, imagery rescripting is often used to help clients overcome the negative images they may experience via flashbacks and/or nightmares. In imagery rescripting, the existing trauma-related images and their meanings are transformed into mastery/coping images that help the client to feel more empowered and in control. In order for this approach to be effective, therapists must first establish a trusting environment in which the client feels safe. Once the safe environment is established, the therapist guides and accompanies the client through the upsetting imagery via three phases: (1) Imaginal Reliving – visually activating and verbally describing the upsetting images in vivid detail (including the entire memory network and associated affect), (2) Mastery Imagery – replacing victimization imagery with mastery/coping imagery via challenging, confronting, and modifying the distressing images, (3) Self-Compassionate Imagery – visualizing oneself as an empowered individual today nurturing, soothing, comforting, reassuring the “traumatized self” back then.

Imagery rescripting benefits the client in many ways, which includes facilitating expression and organization of feelings, enabling the client to reach closure, decreasing flashbacks, nightmares, and other PTSD-related anxiety symptoms, and improving overall post-trauma adjustment.