EMDR for Trauma Reprocessing
“I have come to the conclusion that human beings are born with an innate capacity to triumph over trauma. I believe not only that trauma is curable, but that the healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening—a portal opening to emotional and genuine spiritual transformation”.
- Peter Levine
What Is Trauma? What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Trauma is a physical and psychological response to horrible event where one experiences or witnesses an imminent threat to the life and safety of others or oneself; commonly leaving the person feeling helpless and out of control. Many persons will initially experience shock and denial, which are typical responses to traumatic experiences.
While our mental, emotional, and physical responses to trauma are designed, in that present moment, to protect us against imminent threat or perceived death. When trauma is left unintegrated as “unfinished business”, it can have a profound negative impact on our relationships, family, work, spirituality, and body throughout our lifespan.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) defines the clinical criteria used by therapists, social workers, doctors, insurance agencies, etc. to diagnose a client with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While many people may display the symptoms and problems associated with trauma, they never receive an official clinical diagnosis.
How Does EMDR Work?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy used to help people process and integrate emotional distress and disturbing images as a result of extremely stressful and/or traumatic experiences. When processing becomes frozen or blocked by a disturbing event, the resulting emotional wound festers and can lead to life-long pain and suffering when left untreated.
EMDR has been recognized as an effective psychotherapeutic tool for treating PTSD, single-incident trauma, and is also, beneficial for treating complex trauma and other adverse memories lead to symptoms of depression, distress, low self-esteem, powerlessness, shame, anger, anxiety, and helplessness.
EMDR re-activates the body and mind’s naturally abilities to heal and integrate traumatic or other disturbing experiences which were previously impeded. As a natural outcome of the EMDR therapeutic process, clients convey robust feelings of empowerment, serenity, strength, liberation, and courage; all natural indicators of emotional wellbeing and health.
What Kind of Problems Can EMDR Treat?
Current scientific research has found EMDR effective in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; however, many clinicians have also found EMDR to be an effective tool in treating:
*Panic Attacks *Complicated Grief *Disturbing Memories
*Phobias *Stress Reduction *Pain Disorders
*Performance Anxiety *Addictions *Sexual/Physical Abuse
How to Know When You’re Ready for EMDR:
The most significant indicator when assessing for EMDR readiness is the degree of a client’s coping skills, resilience, motivation, and support prior to engaging in EMDR therapy.
Phase 1 focuses on assessment of readiness, trauma history, and developing a treatment plan. This is where we determine your trauma history, discuss potential risks/benefits, and create a treatment (and safety plan if needed).
Phase 2 – Resourcing - uses guided imagery and stress reduction skills to build a client’s internal resources and skills they can use to cope with distressing thoughts and feelings during and after the Desensitization phase (Phase 3)
It is extremely vital to both a client’s safety and the integration process that he/she is able to manage uncomfortable feelings or distressing thoughts and memories related to the processing of traumatic material after an EMDR session, as processing is most likely to continue after the session.
You must also be able, willing, and agree to NOT use any mind-altering substances for at least 12-24 hours after an EMDR session, as the use of these substances can obstruct the important mental, emotional, and physical reprocessing of traumatic material. It is also highly recommended clients do not make any major decisions following an EMDR session.
I will assess for EMDR appropriateness on a continual basis throughout the Assessment (Phase 1) and Resourcing (Phase 2) phases. It may take several sessions of resourcing in order to prepare someone for traumatic experience reprocessing.
As your therapist, I reserve the right to discontinue or postpone EMDR therapy if continuance would be inappropriate or place client or others in imminent danger.
Potential Risks Involved with EMDR Therapy:
As with most therapeutic modalities, there are certain risks involved with EMDR. EMDR is not a “one-session” cure, as it serves to desensitize the individual to the anxiety related to traumatic memories, not to eliminate all PTSD-symptomology and complications, nor is EMDR to be utilized as a coping strategy. While EMDR has been researched as a highly effective modality for single-incident trauma, it is not recommended for a person who have multiple traumas (known as complex trauma), or who has been diagnosed with dissociative disorders or personality disorders.
Below are some of the risks associated with EMDR Therapy which can occur after an EMDR session:
- Sleep disturbances, including but not limited to: nightmares, bizarre or distressing dreams, difficulties falling or staying asleep
- Exhaustion and fatigue
- Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
- Flashbacks or memories after the EMDR session (this is associated with your brain still reprocessing traumatic memories after a session, and can last for several days or even weeks)
- Dissociated thoughts, feelings of being in a “dream state” following EMDR session, mental “fogginess”
- Psychosis – auditory, visual or tactile hallucinations
- Feeling overwhelmed and emotional flooding
- Physical pain symptoms
- Re-activation of other traumatic memories the client may be unaware of or dissociated from
- Increase in suicidal or homicidal thoughts
- Emotional detachment or disengagement in relationships
Sliding scale fees are available, limited, and based on affordability
I offer 50-minute EMDR sessions.
I offer a FREE 30-minute phone consultation for adults interested in trauma re-processing. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please Contact me for more information.