Mike Deninger grew up in a large, working-class family in Rochester New York where he attended parochial school with hundreds of other baby boomers. In high school, he was active in sports, oratory and theater. As a junior, he entered and won the prestigious New York State Optimist Oratorical Contest. As a college freshman, Mike was one of thousands of protestors who travelled to Selma and marched with Martin Luther King across Edmund Pettus Bridge in support of voting rights. As a senior, he was elected president of his college residence association and was inducted into the school’s honor society. While working that year as a supervisor in the boy’s residence hall at Buffalo’s St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, he became interested in a career as an educator. With dedication and drive, by the age of 33, Mike rose to a leadership position in the education of deaf children.
After earning a PhD with distinction in special education administration, he was appointed Dean of Pre-College Programs at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, the only liberal arts university for the deaf in the world. With this appointment, Mike had reached the pinnacle of his profession. Despite these accomplishments, however, all was not right with him.
In his 2011 memoir, Snakes in My Dreams: A Mental Health Therapist’s Odyssey from Hardship to Healer*, Mike shared the truth behind his transition from a top position educating deaf children to a career as a therapist, author, and master trainer in mental health. He earned a new graduate degree in counseling, trainer certifications in Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, Eye Movement Integration™ and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and established a private counseling practice in Virginia. During this transformation, Mike also confronted tobacco and alcohol addictions, came out as a gay man, and recovered from PTSD caused by childhood sexual abuse.
Mike learned “from the inside out” what it’s like to recover from trauma. Moreover, he’s keenly aware of the renewal that’s possible when one frees the mind, relaxes the will, and allows the body’s neurological systems to heal traumatic wounds. In the spirit of “giving back,” Mike now shares his trauma-related skills and knowledge with survivors of all types and the professionals who advise them. With enthusiasm and insight, he continues to counsel those suffering from PTSD and lesser traumas. And utilizing his background in education, Mike enjoys offering seminars and consultations in Multichannel Eye Movement Integration (MEMI)—the methodology he developed—to therapists eager to utilize this effective approach.
Over the course of his career, Mike has been an English teacher, a director of residence programs, an American Sign Language interpreter, an assistant principal, principal, university dean, graduate professor and research scientist. During the second half of his career, he founded Phoenix Counseling & Hypnotherapy in Alexandria Virginia. Within a few years, he had established himself as an expert in the use of eye movement integration therapies and developed (MEMI) as his signature approach. His book Multichannel Eye Movement Integration: The Brain Science Path to Fast and Effective PTSD Treatment was published in 2021. Mike has conducted trainings and made presentations at universities and hundreds of national and international conferences sponsored by organizations such as Male Survivor.org, Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare, DC Rape Crisis Center, American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association, Anxiety and Depression Association of America and American Mental Health Counseling Association. He continues to provide trauma consultations, MEMI training, therapist mentoring and management coaching through Trauma Counseling & Training of Tucson, LLC.
As an actor and Equity member, Mike has also performed off Broadway in New York and at the Kennedy Center and Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. He now lives in Tucson with his husband and partner, Michael Mayes and their canine companion Gracie.
*This memoir is currently out of print, pending introduction of a revised edition.