Core Integrity Model

The Heartland Initiative - promotes the use of the Core Integrity Model for healing extensive trauma (Valerie Wolf achieved great success with this approach).  Have your therapist contact them for training

Transforming Lives Impacted by Extreme Trauma.
There are around 3,000,000 survivors of extreme trauma in the United States today. The ones who are in treatment will receive a range of services from outpatient counseling to inpatient stabilization. Those services will personally cost the survivor over $50,000 and will still come up short.

Most survivors will experience difficulties in sustaining relationships, career, health, and above all a sense of self.  While treatment has made great strides since 1970, it is still a long-term process with far from assured results.  Heartland Initiative was founded to address the challenges that extreme trauma presents to survivors and clinicians.

A small group of therapists and researchers have been working quietly on a stage-based treatment model for trauma survivors since 1987.  The Core Integrity Model, interventions for extreme trauma has proven to greatly reduce the need for hospitalization, the severity of symptoms, and has simplified the process of healing.  Heartland Initiative was incorporated in 2002 to provide training and consultation for therapists and survivors in effective treatment and trauma resolution.

What Heartland Initiative does.
  • Trains professionals in mental health, public health, education, ministry, & law enforcement, to better equip them to understand an assist survivors of extreme trauma.
  • Educates the general public on the impact of trauma on the individual and society through a speaker's bureau.
  • Provides information and resources to the support people helping trauma survivors.
  • Consults with therapists and their clients regarding phenomenology that hampers therapeutic progress and "Core" integrity.
  • Solicits philanthropic donations for funding of Heartland Initiative research, training, and consultation programs.
  • Provides scholarships (as funds are available) for quality services to trauma survivors who lack resources or have depleted them in the pursuit of healing.
  • Maintains the Contexts of Trauma Resource Center of information and exhibits related to family, religious, educational, social, criminal, and scientific contexts of trauma.
What you will find on our site.
  • Timely information on extreme trauma for those dealing with its results ~ families, individuals, therapists and other helping professionals.
  • Information on extreme trauma and the survivors.
  • Training opportunities in a new and highly effective treatment for survivors of trauma based on The Core Integrity Model, Interventions for Extreme Trauma.
  • Resources therapists and survivors can use in stalled recovery.
  • How you can help survivors get the help they need to heal from the atrocities they've experienced with your personal and financial support.
  • Access to a quarterly newsletter archive.
What is extreme trauma?
  • ongoing events in which one has no recourse or relief.
  • extended conflict between countries, cultures, communities, families, or family members.
  • circumstances of captivity in which either as child or adult, the person cannot flee.
  • a significant period of time in which one's thoughts, actions, and feelings are totally subject to the control of an authority figure.

Characteristics of extreme trauma are:

  • a life history of repetitive traumatic events.
  • a deep belief that any disclosure would result in harm to loved one or self.
  • a perceived need to live a rigidly compartmentalized life.
  • a history of emotional struggles whether treated or untreated.
  • a deficit in developing or maintaining a social support system.
  • a lifestyle often characterized as inconsistent or chaotic.
  • a vulnerability to charismatic people who take advantage of them.
  • a lifetime search for belonging, meaning, and purpose
How The Core Integrity Model differs from other modalities.

The two leading professional organizations in research and development of treatment and standards of care are The International Society for the Study of Dissociation (ISSD) and The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS).  While there are differences in modalities and foci within these organizations, there is common agreement that therapy must progress through "phases" or "stages".  In the mid 1990's, these organizations issued standards of care for trauma treatment.

Lowell Routley, Ph.D., a member of both organizations, was a frontrunner in trauma treatment in the Midwest.  In 1987, Dr. Routley began training Midwest therapists in trauma treatment and standards of care.  Dr. Routley founded and chaired the Iowa Study Group for Dissociation, a ISSD chapter, and presented training seminars on trauma and use of The Core Integrity Model.  At the same time, Jim McCarthy, M.A., a social movements researcher, was consulting with trauma survivors and their therapists to make sense of memories of trauma within deviant social movements. His interviews with survivors resulted in identifying what interventions worked with the various contexts and phenomenology of trauma.  Mr. McCarthy has trained therapists nation-wide in the phenomenology of trauma contexts.  Upon meeting in 1997, Jim and Lowell began the collaboration that resulted in Heartland Initiative.

The Core Integrity Model, interventions for extreme trauma combines the stages of treatment with specific interventions developed by survivors and therapists that empower survivors in healing. The following concepts are central to the model and believed to be necessary for effective treatment.
  • That every person is born with a unique identity that is "Core" self".
  • That "Core" self owns and uses mind, body, and soul to express identity.
  • That "Core" self is naturally observed in moments of wonderment, contemplation, or horror.
  • That "Core" self creates an internal social world to organize, contain, and express self consciously to the external world.
  • That "Core" self uses a nexus of consciousness in the process of expressing self to the external world.
  • That this nexus is the place in the mind of interaction between past and present, mind and body, and the internal and external world.
  • That "Core" self has an internal system of parts that blend in the nexus to manifest self and interact with the external world.
  • That "Core" self has an innate dissociative ability to compartmentalize and survive overwhelming experiences.
  • That the wishes, wants, needs, and desires of "Core" self drive the self-system even to seeking healing.

The Core Integrity Model consists of interventions that are related to four stages of treatment during which the "Core" self must be recognized, respected, and included for therapy to be effective.  The stages of treatment and the related interventions maintain the person's ability to function in day-to-day life while healing.  The model provides symptom relief, ego strength, memory resolution, and thriving in life.

  • In stage one therapy, "Core" participation establishes internal and external safety, sustains an orientation to the present, and strengthens the therapeutic alliance. 
  • Stage two participation by "Core" self reduces acting-out like substance abuse and self-harm and facilitates building a healthy social network. 
  • Stage three allows "Core" self to safely become conscious of the trauma history and facilitates memory resolution. 
  • During stage four of therapy, "Core" self defines purpose, meaning, and integrity for life beyond trauma and therapy.

Understanding how trauma impacts consciousness and the "Core" self is crucial to an effective treatment model. The focus on "Core" self and the nexus of consciousness makes The Core Integrity Model, interventions for extreme trauma a watershed concept. We invite you to join with us in this exciting development as we reach out to incredible people who survived and now seek to heal from tragic life events.

Contact Information:
Heartland Initiative, Inc.
20 East 13th Street
Dubuque, Iowa 52001
Phone: (563) 588-4476

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