EMDR Therapy2024-05-17T16:43:15+00:00

How EMDR Can Support Your Therapy Journey

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a method of therapy created to help people work through traumatic or distressing life experiences. EMDR was originally developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in people suffering from issues like sexual assault, injury, war, and combat-related trauma. At the same time, it can also benefit and support people dealing with difficulties related to bereavement or loss, divorce, relational distress, or anxiety.

This therapeutic modality helps people identify and work through memories, thought processes, habits, or behaviors that generate emotional discomfort. I have found the effects of EMDR to be so beneficial as a counselor that I have made it a core element of my practice.

Trauma can be challenging to work through on your own, and talk therapy is often highly beneficial. However, a combination of talk therapy and EMDR can be the most impactful and productive way to process your trauma and support yourself now and in the future.

woman looking out of window with sad expression

Why EMDR Therapy Works

Dr. Francine Shapiro came up with the basic idea for EMDR in 1987 while in grad school. She was taking a walk and realized that some distressing thoughts and emotions diminished while moving her eyes back and forth. (1) She began to research what exactly happened and discovered that when someone’s eyes move rapidly back and forth while thinking or feeling something disturbing, the disturbance diminishes. Over the last several decades, continued research has shown the effectiveness of EMDR treatment for many issues.

EMDR is a highly effective approach. Studies have shown that EMDR for PTSD can reduce the effects of the disorder to the point where survivors are no longer diagnosed with it. (2) EMDR has also been shown to reduce the impact of complex PTSD (e.g., childhood sexual abuse). (3)

It is an integrative approach, utilizing ‘bottom-up’ processing to help you find relief. This means that EMDR counseling can help you not only think differently, but also feel differently. You can feel more connected, grounded, and whole within your body. This difference is sometimes referred to as knowing something to be true rationally but also feeling that knowing in your body.

man with eyes closed in front of blue sky

Internal Resourcing Before EMDR Therapy

After we have discussed what brought you to therapy and determined what areas of your memories or thought processes to focus on, you will learn and practice various internal resourcing strategies. The goal of these strategies is to help you cope with the day-to-day impact of the trauma or distress in your life.

Examples of internal resourcing techniques include both physical and mental actions that are soothing and calming. These actions can help you create a sense of safety, grounding, and ease. They can include imaginative work, mindfulness activities, breathing exercises, and other coping strategies. You can utilize these resourcing methods day-to-day, during trauma processing, and after sessions are done.

How Processing Works In EMDR Counseling

It is normal to feel nervous when you start EMDR treatment. I will be there to support you and ensure we stay within your window of tolerance, taking breaks as needed. When we start, we’ll consider what thinking about your experiences brings up for you, and how that “lights up” your nervous system. Developing a rapid heart rate, feeling dizzy, or having a strong emotional response are all symptoms we’ll look out for. Essentially, we want you to have ‘one foot’ in the experience from the past, while also maintaining ‘one foot’ in the present in order to stay grounded enough to begin or continue processing.

You will engage in bi-lateral stimulation from one of several methods including eye movements, sounds, or physical sensations. Some of the ways to take part in bi-lateral stimulation include “tapping” on your body on both right and left sides, looking back and forth with your eyes closed or open, or listening to a tone in your ears repeatedly from left to right. All of these activities are geared to stimulate both sides of your brain.

As you perform these bilateral exercises, you will begin to think about your memories and experiences. You’ll let your brain and your body go wherever they need to go and there is no right or wrong reaction. You can liken this process to being in a car in a tunnel, and the bilateral stimulation is a gas pedal that helps you get through that tunnel. The desensitization phase of EMDR therapy allows you to reprocess your memories so that you can remember what happened to you without feeling upset or overwhelmed.

In general, sessions are usually 60 to 90 minutes and the actual EMDR takes up about 30 to 60 minutes of that.

close up of eye

My Background In EMDR Therapy

I have been in practice as a therapist since 2008 and have incorporated EMDR counseling into my practice since 2015. I trained at the Maiberger Institute with Barb Maiberger in Denver, Colorado, which is where I became a Certified EMDR Therapist. I also have a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Bowling Green.

I decided to train in EMDR therapy after experiencing its effectiveness in my own therapeutic journey. This technique has allowed me to grow in ways that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise, and I wanted to be able to provide that type of relief and healing to those in my practice.

There’s a protocol to follow with EMDR treatment, but it’s ultimately a creative process that looks different for each client. I also strive to create a safe, inclusive, and affirming environment for my clients, so that you can develop a sense of trust in me, the process, and in yourself. For this reason, I make sure to take time in the internal resourcing stage before we begin processing your potentially traumatic memories.

My online practice is also beneficial in that your home environment can better suit needs for a safe, private, and comfortable atmosphere to engage in EMDR counseling. Even though sessions can sometimes get intense, you have the added convenience of already being in your own home.

EMDR Therapy Can Be A Powerful Part Of Your Counseling Experience

EMDR therapy can help you learn skills to deal with trauma and distressing symptoms, develop a sense of greater peace and groundedness, and feel empowered when issues come up now and in the future. Reach out to my practice for a free, 15-minute phone call to discuss how EMDR treatment can be integrated into your counseling journey.

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