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THE SKY'S THE LIMIT

Chapter 11 of Fifteen Minutes to Freedom

Interview with Bill Solz

Bill Solz is a licensed clinical social worker and credentialed alcohol and substance abuse counselor in private practice in Long Island, New York.

Harry: Bill, how did you first discover Havening?

 

Bill: It’s an interesting story. I’ve been part of a networking group, and I’m the only psychotherapist in the group. There was a guy in the group whose job was cleaning houses, and he knew that I specialized in trauma. He approaches me one day and he says, “Bill, you hear about the Havening?” And I said, “No, what are you talking about?” He says, “Come on, man. You’ve got to get on board with this stuff.” I said, “Lou, I’ve never heard about it.” And, he said, “This is like the latest thing going. It’s really catching on big time in the UK! You’ve got to come on board!”

 

Now here I am. I’m really scratching my head saying, why is this something I don’t know about, but here’s a guy who cleans homes who knows about it? So this was very much a puzzle.  As it turns out, Lou is none other than Lou Falco, who is a Vietnam War veteran, and he heads up a group called Operations Initiative, which addresses the PTSD needs of vets.

 

I hardly knew Lou at this point, and here he is telling me I need to learn this, I have to find out more about it. And I’m just as skeptical as skeptical could be. Finally I say, “Okay. Okay. How do I find out?” So, he says, “Bill, I’m going to introduce you to the twin brother of the guy who developed it,” who was Steve Ruden.

 

As it turned out, this was in the summer of 2013, and Steve had gotten a few other interested people together, and we met him at his dental office. So this is only getting more and more curious. I was not so pleased about any of this, because it was a bit of a ride for me to get to Steve’s office, and now I’m going to a dentist’s office to teach me about a trauma protocol? I was hardly enthused.

 

And then, I met Steve. He asked me my background, and I told him I’m involved with EMDR and the Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy, and he was curious about them, and we got to talking a little bit about each of them. And then, when a couple of other people got there, he started to just talk in general about Havening — nothing really too dramatic, only to really advise us that they were having their first New York City workshop in October of 2013, and he wanted to invite me to attend, and with that, he was going to give me a modest scholarship.

 

I was interested, because, I have specialized in trauma. It’s been the big bulk of my practice. As a matter of fact, EMDR put me on the map as a trauma professional. I became the primary referral source for the Long Island Railroad, for TWA and for American Airlines. When each of those agencies’ employees or family members sustained tragedies, I was the go-to guy for them, and that was all courtesy of EMDR.

 

So, now, if there was an opportunity to learn more, I’m always interested in growing, and so I signed up for the October workshop, really not having a clue what I was getting into.

 

As the weekend unfolded, I really came to understand the power of this tool. Havening was quicker and more user-friendly than EMDR. Also, a real plus of Havening is there didn’t seem to be restrictions for individuals who were abusing alcohol or other drugs, and a big, big part of my practice has been working with individuals with alcohol and substance abuse issues, and my belief is that, for quite a great deal of that population, their use only emanates from an inability to effectively manage their emotions.

 

So, as a result, over the years, I’ve been doing lots of relapse prevention workshops where, indeed, I’ve utilized and focused on EMDR, Thought Field Therapy, and the Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy. And for EMDR in particular, you definitely needed the client to first get clean and sober before you could implement it, which I understood, but at the same time, it really wasn’t addressing my needs in the sense that I believe if we could clear out the underlying upset first, then there would no longer be the need to use. And Havening certainly gave me that ability.

 

As a matter of fact, I remember as I went into that weekend, and I learned more about Havening, I had in mind this client of mine, who was a 17-year-old kid with rage issues. He was a heavy-duty marijuana smoker, and he’d been suspended from high school multiple times. I had just started working with him in July. His rage definitely emanated from the fact that his father abandoned him, took up with another woman, and subsequently had two kids with her.

 

So, my idea, and the agreement I contracted with him, was that we would do EMDR to address the underlying issue with him, provided that he become clean from any other drug use. And he actually embarked on that for two weeks, but I told him I would have to drug test him at the end of the month. And, sure enough, before the end of the month arrives, he tells me he used, and all bets were off.

 

So I end up being very excited that weekend when I’m hearing there was not that restriction with Havening, because I definitely had this 17-year-old kid in mind. Indeed, he was the first client that I used Havening with. And sure enough, we end up addressing the abandonment. And this was my first session, the Monday after the training. His level of rage was a ten and I got him down to a five, and that was the end of it. 

 

I never saw that kid again, which certainly disappointed me, but the reality was, for this kid, he did not want to lose all that rage. And I certainly believe he was fearful of that, and that’s why he didn’t come back. But the net result was, because I followed him with his guidance counselor, this kid went on incident-free. When I say incident-free, he never got suspended again for the rest of the year. This is going from the beginning of October through June. He graduated, went to college, and then I lost track of him. But this certainly spoke to the efficacy of Havening.

 

But even more so, I have to say, with each of the treatment approaches that I’ve learned, and I’ve already shared three of them with you, I find myself being the biggest skeptic going into it, and I feel like I come from Missouri, the Show-Me State. You know, show me.

 

Here’s the difference Havening made for me, personally. In May of 2013, just a few months before the training, I ended up separating from my wife of 34 years. In general, I’m a very grounded, stable individual. However, going through this separation and divorce—which, mind you, still isn’t even completely done —I ended up encountering tremendous emotional upset, more under the heading of anger, which is an emotion that has been foreign to me for most of my life.

 

In any event, what happened is I left the marriage at the end of May, and you are required to write a statement of personal net worth. Now, that, in and of itself, was very challenging for me, because she managed all the bills and I didn’t. So it was a very big learning curve. But, every time I sat down to do it, I couldn’t do it. The lawyers were asking me for it. And here was the weekend of the training, and I was actually considering blowing off the training just to sit down and get that statement done. But the reality was, I haven’t done it for three months. What makes me think I’m going to do it that weekend? So I said, let me go to the training.

 

It turned out that Saturday night, we end up taking part in role-playing, therapist-client, and vice versa. So, the person who ended up Havening me was this gal, and I ended up working on my divorce, my separation.  It was one of these 80-, 85-degree days in Manhattan, and I’m wearing just this cotton shirt.

 

At that time, I had just met a woman who became my girlfriend. We had plans that night after the training ended. I would meet her at a show in Manhattan and she would introduce me to her sister.

 

And now, I go through this Havening thing. Harry, I swear to God, my cotton shirt that I was wearing just became full of perspiration. I sweated through this whole damn shirt, and now here I am. I had to hop a cab to meet her on time, and I literally got over to her as a total wreck, my shirt all full of perspiration, and she looks at me and she says, “Bill, what happened to you?” I said, “Don’t even ask. Don’t even ask.” And she said, “Bill, this is my sister,” and that’s how I met her family. In my sweat-soaked cotton shirt.

 

But, that night, let me tell you what ends up happening. We see the show, I take her home, then I return to my apartment. No sooner do I return than I sit down at the table and knock off that statement of personal net worth.

I saw right then and there the power of Havening as, indeed, my anger had blocked me from being able to proceed. And so, right then and there, obviously I was sold. And I haven’t looked back since.

 

H: Great story. Thank you. It’s been three years since you took the workshop. Is Havening the primary tool you use with clients now?

 

B: It has become that, and indeed, I no longer really use EMDR or TFT.  I use some great protocols from EMDR that help reduce one’s level of urge to use. But, in terms of actually addressing trauma, I definitely do not use EMDR for that.

 

H: What do you find to be the most significant advantages of Havening versus EMDR? Because what I’ve noticed is, as I’ve spoken to about a half dozen people thus far,  who, like you, were primarily focused on EMDR as their go-to tool for addressing trauma, and every single one of them who’s become involved in Havening eventually replaces EMDR with Havening.

 

B: Yeah. Havening is faster. So, let’s say for EMDR, and I’ve been certified in EMDR since ‘96, it would probably take at least three sessions for me to set up things before I can even begin to address trauma with utilizing EMDR, whereas Havening, if I really want to be aggressive, as I tend to be, I can use Havening in the first session. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing more quick-acting than Havening.

 

What I found is that the clients who come to me come to me with a presenting problem. “I can’t sleep,” “I’m angry” — whatever their issue is. And what my practice has boiled down to is this: I’ll do an intake with them, session number one, I do a full psychosocial history, alcohol and drug history, and a brief trauma history with them, all in the first session. And then, invariably, the second session, I’ll do Havening. So, the net result has been after two sessions, my clients are feeling much, much better, their presenting problem has been ameliorated, and really, in truth, what has happened for me is my clients have been very grateful and they’ve gone along their merry way.

 

With EMDR it’s much longer, even from the setup phase. Clients experience far more abreactions. And mind you, there are many, many people who have been trained in EMDR who never even look to utilize it, only because they can’t take the emotional end of things. That is not at all the case with Havening.

 

Just to give you an idea, one of the reasons the Long Island Railroad loved me, and they would refer to me all their employees who were engineers who had killed people crossing the tracks, is that I could help them get back to work.  What would happen is they’d be so traumatized, they could no longer continue. For many of the engineers, that wasn’t just their one-time situation. It could have been their third incident. And, indeed, the railroad had a vested interest in terms of getting them back to work.

 

Interestingly enough, each of the guys I treated were able to go back. On average, it would take me six sessions to resolve their trauma using EMDR. EMDR worked great, people felt better and they went back to work. Now with Havening, I could argue that I could easily do it in two sessions.

 

So when you ask me where I stand, as far as utilizing my various approaches, Havening has easily become number one. Number two is called the Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy, and it’s something that I’m really very proud of, as I’m very much the only practitioner in the metropolitan area who knows it. It’s all about the healing of inner child wounds. So, when I compare Havening to DNMS I look at Havening as almost like a laser, and the DNMS is really the most comprehensive treatment approach that I know.

 

So when people take on negative beliefs, such as “I’m not good enough”, “I’ll never amount to anything”, they’ve taken on negative messages from significant others, whether they’re the parents, spouses, colleagues, friends. It could come from, really, anywhere, but those negative messages have become Velcro’d onto them in such a way that they become disempowered, and they could never fully, meaningfully achieve anything, because they have this underlying belief. So, DNMS is incredibly supportive and very effective, certainly much quicker than just traditional CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, or what I would regard as talk therapy.

 

H: Based on your extensive experience as a therapist and counselor, how do you see Havening impacting mental health practice into the future, the next ten, twenty years?

 

B: I think it’s going to blow wide open, and believe me, I’m very proud of the fact that I ended up literally becoming the 17th person in the world to be certified in Havening.

 

If there was a good research protocol that was done, I am convinced that Havening will easily supplant EMDR and really just shoot right up there as a recognizable treatment approach.

 

Francine Shapiro developed EMDR. And huge, huge credit goes to her, because she was extremely proactive, in terms of encouraging colleagues who were new to the field. It was developed in ‘87, and I was one of the newer practitioners. But when I first got started, EMDR wasn’t recognized as evidence-based, and indeed, I would put my work out there against the other psychologists, who basically told me that what I was doing was a joke. But once the research proved its efficacy, EMDR was able to make a name for itself.

 

H: Yes. Dr. Shapiro has been incredibly proactive in terms of generating solid research. EMDR might be one of the most well-researched interventions there is.

 

Any more Havening stories, Bill?

 

B: I’m at a networking event. It turns out I meet this chiropractor. He’s talking about the good work that he does with athletes. And he goes on to tell me his one frustration is that he can’t get on TV, and he would love to really promote what he’s doing. So, of course, I said, “Why not?” And he ends up telling me he’s had a history of panic attacks for 23 years.

 

So, I said, “Have you ever looked to get help for that?” He said, “Are you kidding me? I’ve been in and out of counseling forever and nothing’s helped.” So, I said, “How about my introducing Havening to you?”, which, of course, he’d never heard of. “How would you feel about that?” And he says, “I will be personally indebted to you for the rest of my life if you could ever do anything for me.”

 

H: Wow.

 

B: So, I know he’s a busy guy. He’s in Manhattan.  I say, “You know what? You tell me when I could come over to your office, and give me, 40 minutes of your time, and I’m sure I could make a difference.” So, we set it up, and what ends up happening is I’m talking to him, and I asked him, when he first experienced panic attacks.

 

Sure enough, 23 years ago, he had just gone into the field of chiropractic and he had a very demanding supervisor who was dissatisfied with him, would give him tons of work to do. This young practitioner couldn’t cope, and that’s when he started having panic attacks. It turns out he also has to do a ten-minute talk the very next day in one of his networking groups that he was a member of. So, I said, “Okay. Let’s address each of those.”

 

When I asked him to think of that memory 23 years ago, he was at a nine or a ten, and then I also asked him to think of his anxiety pertaining to tomorrow’s talk, which was an eight. So, anyway, I decided to proceed with Havening the initial upset 23 years ago. Pretty quickly, that goes down to a zero, and he says, “Bill, I have never, ever felt so good.” Period. “So, what number at you at?” He said, “Bill, it doesn’t bother me.” He’s at a zero. The next thing is I said, “What about your anxiety related to tomorrow’s talk?” And, he was at a zero with that, too. So, my whole point is if you get at the root of things, you have the ability to clear everything out. That’s why he was at a zero.

 

Now what happens is the next day, he gives his talk, and then my phone is going bonkers with text messages from him. “You are the man, you’re the man, you’ve got to get the word out. I just knocked this out of the park. That was the best talk I ever did. I was complimented up the kazoo by this one and that one.” He couldn’t stop raving about me.

 

And then he came to me for a couple sessions related to some other stuff, and unfortunately, I’ve lost track of him. Anyway, I looked on his Facebook page just a few months ago, and how does he regard himself now? On his Facebook page, it’s “Mr. So-and-So: Public speaker, Chiropractor.”

 

H: What a transformation.

 

B: Here’s another story. Last one. I’m doing a presentation, a workshop at the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce. So, there are about 20, 25 people in the audience, and you know what? Quite often, it is hard to get a volunteer, but four people—obviously friends or colleagues of his—are urging this one guy to come up, and he does, reluctantly.

 

Mind you, I had only ten minutes left in my workshop, and I told the guy I wanted to do a demonstration at the end, and then all of a sudden he’s telling me there’s only ten minutes, so I wasn’t too pleased with that. Anyway, I get this guy up. Again, I don’t know what his issue is.

 

I ask him to think back to the memory. Zero to ten, he was at an eight. And we go through the Havening process, and I said, “Okay, where are you at now?” He says, “Bill, it doesn’t bother me.” And I said, “Just give me a number, you know.” And he says, “Bill, you don’t get it. It doesn’t bother me.” So, I said, “Are you telling me you’re at a zero?” He said, “Yeah.” He’s at a zero.

 

And he was so excited, he ends up saying to me, “Do you mind if I share with the group what my issue is?” And I said, “Well, that’s totally up to you.” And, of course, I don’t know what his issue is, so it’s not a secret between us, you know. But he says, “No, I want to.” So, I said, “Okay, knock yourself out.”

 

What he went on to say gave me chills. “I happened to have been on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center in 1993 when they had to evacuate. And thank God I got out of there with my life. But I’ve had sleep irritability. I’ve had a whole host of symptoms related to that incident.” And here he is, telling me he’s at a zero.

 

That wasn’t the end of it. This happens in April of 2014. So, I ran into this guy at a restaurant the following September, quite by accident, and I don’t even know who this guy is, you know. It’s not like he’s a friend of mine. And I said, “By the way, how are you doing related to that memory?” He said, “Bill, I told you. It no longer bothers me.” And I said, “Well, you know, obviously this is sometime later.” He said, “You don’t get it. It doesn’t bother me.”  He’s at a zero. So, that’s when, for sure, I saw how efficacious this was and that it can hold.

 

H: What advice would you give somebody who’s looking into adding Havening to their toolkit?

 

B: What advice? Go do it!

 

H: Period.

 

B: Yeah. To me, it’s a home run, if not a grand slam.  Again, it really must become evidence- based. I have no doubt it’ll just blow the roof off everything. And at this point, as you know, more and more people are getting trained in it, so slowly we’ll have the ability to get more people the help they need. I mean, I would love, in truth, for Havening to become a household word as opposed to top secret material.

 

H: I love the way you said that. It needs to be a household word, not top secret anymore. Well, thank you for your part in making that happen.

 

B: You’re very welcome. I’ve done about as good a job as I can in terms of getting the word out amongst my limited platform. But, again, I know once it’s evidence-based, the sky’s the limit.

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