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EMDR Therapy

Evidence Based Treatment for Trauma

Have you done lots and lots of talk therapy and it isn't helping as much as you'd like?

 

EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) is an evidence-based treatment to clear past traumas. When a trauma occurs it seems to get locked in the nervous system with the original picture, sounds, thoughts and feelings. EMDR uses eye movements or other bilateral stimulation to unlock the nervous system and allow the mind and body to process the experience. It is important to remember that it is your own brain that does the healing and that you are the one in control.

emdr tappers

EMDR has been extensively researched as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as to treat the psychological effects of smaller traumas that manifest in symptoms of depression, anxiety, phobias, low self-esteem, creativity blocks, and relationship difficulties.

I am certified by EMDRIA (EMDR International Association) and have trained with Dr. Laurel Parnell of the Parnell Institute in the practice of EMDR and AF-EMDR (Attachment-Focused EMDR), which combines the latest in attachment theory and research into the use of EMDR.

What is the course of EMDR therapy?

Like any new therapeutic relationship, I will do an initial intake for the first one or two sessions. I will hear what the issues are, the history of what's wrong, what you've tried so far to heal, and so on. As I'm listening, I am also evaluating if EMDR is the right modality for your issues, and the right modality for you.

 

After the intake, we'll spend as many sessions as needed to begin to build trust. This is a time for me to get more history and fill in some of the blanks, to talk about your current life, and for you to experience how I work. We will also discuss what specific defining incidents and memories we will want to work with. You don't have to know in advance - this is something we can figure out together.

 

Once there is enough trust between us, we move into the resourcing part of the work, where I'll make sure you have some fortified mental and emotional resources for the reprocessing phase. The resourcing, which usually feels pretty good, can last one session or this can be a place where we stay for awhile if you've had significant neglect, emotional misattunement, and/or abuse with childhood caregivers. We will then come up with a plan to figure out which memories to begin with. From there, we will move into the reprocessing phase. The reprocessing phase can last a number of sessions for each memory, or it can be shorter, depending on how old and how intense the memory is, and individual differences in processing speeds.

When is EMDR contraindicated?
 

Generally, EMDR is a very safe modality. However there are certain candidates for which it isn't advised:

  • For those who are currently having hallucinations or delusions

  • For those that have had one or multiple brain injuries

  • For those that have a congenital neurological issue

  • For those where the trauma is ongoing (although childhood and older memories can still be reprocessed)

  • For those who cannot abstain from cannabis for a day (since THC impairs working memory)

What do you use for the bilateral stimulation?

 

Since I mainly work via telehealth, there are many apps (on Apple and Android) that deliver alternating tones into your earbuds or headphones. This is what my clients use the most.

Other options include hand buzzers (pictured above) that can be purchased; self-tapping on knees, arms, or the sides of legs; and actual eye movements via programs on the computer screen. None is better than the other - it's all about personal preference.

For more information

What is Attachment-Focused EMDR (AF-EMDR)?

Cleveland Clinic - EMDR Therapy

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