"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new."

~ Socrates

About EMDR

Let’s face it.

The world has become a more complicated place full of challenges around every corner.  As technology advances, we’re exposed to more stressors than ever before, from social media posts to an avalanche of incoming information and endless requests for assistance.  Expectations from customers, students, patients, peers, and supervisors have increased exponentially.  Our lives seem to move faster every year.  Career professionals feel more pressure than generations before us, and the need to retain a positive presence and work productively and efficiently leaves us little time to overcome stressors.

It seems like we could all use a little help from a professional to help us through life’s challenges.  Many consider therapy a solution for significant mental illnesses when in reality, therapy assists people in all different kinds of situations work through emotions that may hold them back from being as happy, healthy, and productive as possible.

Does the word “therapy” make you cringe?  Do thoughts of sitting in a leather chair for an hour every week in front of a therapist scribbling on a notepad turn you away from getting the help you need?  Is your schedule simply too busy to add another recurring appointment to it?

You are not alone.

Many people feel the same way about conventional therapy methods and the weekly one hour therapy model.  That’s why I specialize in a more efficient solution called EMDR. EMDR allows patients to get the help they need and get back on their feet in far less time than other psychotherapy approaches, and working intensively with EMDR offers more flexible scheduling options.  Additionally, this treatment doesn’t require you to rehash the details of those painful memories over and over again every week.

Isn’t it time you invested in your mental wellness and happiness?

Getting past disturbing experiences and traumatic events will help you live a happier, healthier, and more productive life.  Your investment in your mental wellness will provide you with abundant returns in the years to come.

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a powerful type of psychotherapy that helps patients suffering from various trauma symptoms, including PTSD, relational traumas, childhood abuse, neglect, and others.  Unlike traditional talk therapy which requires ongoing, repeat sessions, EMDR uses stimulation techniques to impact the neural connections within the brain to effectively reprocess and heal from disturbing memories, thoughts, and experiences in a more efficient way.

EMDR promotes accelerated healing from the symptoms and emotional distress that result from disturbing life experiences.  These experiences can include single incidents such as a motor vehicle accident, assault, or natural disaster, or they may be persistent exposure to traumatic situations like abuse, neglect, bullying, or other stressful events.  EMDR is a fast and effective way to achieve sustained relief from symptoms.

How does EMDR work?

Our brains are set up to process information, including situations we come across every day.  There are three components of the brain involved in this processing:

  • The amygdala or the “alarm system” that sends a signal notifying the brain of a stressful event.
  • The hippocampus, which focuses on learning–including memories about safety and danger.
  • The prefrontal cortex, which controls behavior and emotion.

When the brain functions effectively, events are processed through these three components seamlessly, and most events resolve without much effort.

Sometimes, however, connections between these three components do not operate this smoothly.  When the brain is introduced to a traumatic event, it can feel it is in danger, and the stimulus will be too significant for the brain to process.

When this happens, the brain can stay stuck in a flight, fight, or freeze mentality to guard itself against the danger while trying to reprocess the event or events repeatedly.  Recurring thoughts lead to emotions such as being overwhelmed or unable to move forward.

EMDR is a process that helps the brain resolve the flight, fight, or freeze response, so while the memories continue to exist, the brain is no longer stuck trying to process them.  In other words, it creates a sense of safety so the mind can resolve the situation and stops reliving the memories and instead transitions to simply remembering them.

EMDR therapy combines facets of traditional counseling such as reviewing personal history, identifying negative thoughts or memories, and uncovering harmful emotions with bilateral stimulation to encourage neural processing.

You’ve likely heard of REM sleep which is the part of the sleep cycle thought to be the time when the brain is processing events.  Similarly, with the eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation using taps or tones), the brain is encouraged to focus on processing the information identified during the session.  The dual attention created by the bilateral stimulation assures the brain that it is safe and can process the memories effectively.  Patients may feel a sense of being “lighter” after a session as the thoughts no longer weigh them down.

Learn more about EMDR in this video:

Find more resources about EMDR click here.

What can I expect in an EMDR session?

A typical EMDR session lasts from 60 to 90 minutes.  Intensive sessions can be scheduled anywhere from 90 minutes to a full day. While the client focuses on the upsetting event, the therapist will begin sets of bilateral stimulation using side-to-side eye movements, sounds, or taps. After each set, the client will be guided to notice what comes to mind. They may experience shifts in insight or changes in images, feelings, or beliefs regarding the event. The client has complete control to stop the therapist at any point if needed. The sets of eye movements, sounds, or taps are repeated until the event becomes less disturbing.

About EMDRUnlike other traditional talk therapies, “processing” in EMDR therapy does not mean talking about a traumatic experience.  Instead, we create a learning state to allow your brain to identify troublesome experiences and properly process and store them.  Clients will feel they have learned from those experiences and can move on using those learnings in positive ways in the future.  Negative emotions, beliefs, and body sensations will disappear.

A complete EMDR therapy treatment targets three elements to alleviate symptoms:  past memories, present disturbances, and future actions.  EMDR therapy consists of 8 phases, and unlike other evidence-based therapies to address trauma, it does not require talking through a detailed account of the incident or experiences.

In the initial phases, the therapist assesses client readiness, develops a treatment plan, and ensures the client has the appropriate tools to handle emotional distress – checking for existing skills and teaching new ones.

In the later phases, targets (e.g., adverse experiences, symptoms) are processed using EMDR therapy procedures, and new learning, insights, and beliefs are integrated. The overall course of EMDR therapy is, on average, much shorter than with traditional talk therapy.

For a more detailed explanation of the 8 phases, click here.

To see a video example of an EMDR therapy session, click here.

Who can benefit from EMDR therapy?

People of all ages and with a wide range of symptoms can benefit from EMDR therapy. In addition to effectively and efficiently addressing difficult or painful life experiences, EMDR can also be used to enhance performance in areas such as work, school, sports, and creativity.