A survivor of trauma needs someone who understands, exhibits compassion, and is skilled in working with the aftermath of a life-changing event like trauma. In order to treat trauma most effectively, I have developed several specialties throughout the years. I am skilled in various methods for working with trauma, including EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)– I’m Level 2 Certified , and the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT, also known as Tapping), and hypnosis. I believe in equipping clients with a “toolbox” of coping skills. I utilize Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help people change patterns of behavior that are not helpful
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of therapy that helps patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When a traumatic or distressing experience occurs, it can overwhelm normal coping mechanisms in the mind. The memories associated are inadequately processed and stored in an isolated memory network. The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories, reducing their long-lasting effects and allowing the person to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms to use in their life.
We have found that any technique that brings the brain’s attention across the midline of the body is as effective as actual eye movements. Instead of eye movement, I usually use a gizmo that gently vibrates alternately in each hand. My clients find this more comfortable and less “work” than eye movements.
Researchers are still unsure of how or why EMDR works. There are, however, numerous studies proving its effectiveness. EMDR was once thought to be “fringe” science. However, since its inception there has been so much research proving how effective it is, that now every major insurance company reimburses for the use of this powerful technique.
My thoughts on EMDR, after being a practitioner for over two decades, is that it helps your emotions get on board with your rational/reasonable mind. For example, consider the woman who comes into therapy stating that her husband is violent toward her, but that she loves him. She might waffle back and forth between wanting to leave and wanting to stay in the relationship. EMDR somehow allows the two aspects of the mind (emotion and reason) to align. Once your emotional and reasonable parts of your mind align, behavior change that once seemed overwhelming or difficult comes naturally.
Most survivors of trauma want (desperately) to “get over” the aftermath of the trauma. However, wanting to and being able to are often two different things. EMDR allows the individual to heal on a deep level. No amount of deciding to put something behind you works like this technique. EMDR actually allows you to process the trauma in a new way, allowing the traumatic memories and their aftermath to settle into a different place in your thoughts. Actually allowing you to put upsetting material in the past where it belongs–not still affecting your current life.
EMDR has been proven to reduce and sometimes eliminate PTSD symptoms.
As effective as EMDR is, it can be a difficult emotional process. Clients have sometimes compared it to picking off a scab. It allows better, deeper healing, but can be painful. Because of this I usually recommend that we get all or most of the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills on board before we begin EMDR work. This helps insure that the client is stable and ready for the trauma work we are about to begin.
Follow this link if you are interested in more scientific explanations of EMDR. http://www.emdr.com/faqs.html
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
EFT can be helpful with trauma work alone, or along with EMDR. Some clients find EFT easier to tolerate than EMDR. Although some people consider this tapping technique “way out there,” I have been using this technique for decades, and for many people it is a helpful adjunct to therapy. Another plus of this type of therapy is that it can be performed at home, without the therapist, to help speed the process of healing.
EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over five thousand years, but without the invasiveness of needles. Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used on specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem – whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc. — and voice positive affirmations.
This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the “short-circuit” – the emotional block — from your body’s bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease.
Sounds pretty out there, right? It sure does, I agree. However, I have been using this technique and teaching clients how to use it for almost twenty years, and well over 90% of my clients who have tried it have been happy with the results, as well as how user-friendly it is to use at home.
Certainly if this technique doesn’t sound like your “cup of tea” we don’t have to use it. However, as the old commercial said, “try it, you might like it.”