June 13, 2021

Early Trauma Protocol (ETP) – Healing from Childhood Trauma

I have been trained to use a special EMDR protocol called the Early Trauma Protocol (ETP) by Katie Oshea M.S. and Sandra Paulsen Ph.D. to work with individuals who experienced childhood trauma and were abused and/or neglected in early childhood between the ages of birth to 3. When we experience abuse and or neglect before the age of three we do not have explicit memories. Because the brain is developing it is not able to remember exactly what happened to us. At that age memory is stored in the right hemisphere and is not subject to direct recall. Many people will have a “felt sense” of what they experienced at a young age. They might also know of stories that they were told by parents, siblings or other adults in their lives.

ETP Process

Trauma in young children is stored in a “baby state” in which there are no images or thoughts about the trauma, just a felt sense of terror, abandonment, hurt or shame that never seems to go away. Babies absorb everything around them including their mother, father, and environment. This includes the relationship template from those caring for them and becomes embedded into their body including their cells and muscle tissue.

With the Early Trauma Protocol I  start by resetting the affective or emotional circuits. When babies and young children don’t feel safe to express or show emotions then the emotions can be stopped or dysfunctionally stored. I use a form of EMDR therapy to help clients to feel and express their emotions in a healthy way.  Then I target the childhood trauma by developmental time frames using a felt sense of trauma or what the client has heard of their early childhood experiences. In this process we review the trauma material, then use EMDR therapy with a bilateral tapping method to release the trauma. Next, we use a reparative process which allows the client to imagine what they needed but didn’t get, and then help the client to install positive thoughts or beliefs about that time period.

This way of processing developmental trauma can be very powerful for people and helps for deep healing of often unrelenting problems or symptoms that effect people for years.