EMDR treatment can help!
you have tried traditional talk therapy and received limited results…
you still finding yourself waking up with nightmares, struggling with intrusive thoughts, and unable to move past a traumatic event…
your struggle to move forward has impacted your relationships with people you love, your connections with others and your ability to be present and enjoy the moment…
you are tired of struggling and ready to put in the hard work needed to heal from the ghosts of your past
Video Courtesy of EMDR International Association
What can EMDR be used to treat?
Addiction issues and craving (specialized protocols)
Body Image Issues
Difficulty in trusting others
Emotional distress related to sexual and/or physical abuse
Somatoform/ Pain disorders
so what exactly is EMDR anyway?
EMDR therapy is a cost-effective, non-invasive, evidence-based method of psychotherapy that facilitates adaptive information processing. EMDR therapy uses an eight-phase treatment model which identifies and addresses experiences that have overwhelmed the brain’s natural resilience or coping capacity, and have thereby generated traumatic symptoms and/or harmful coping strategies. Through EMDR therapy, patients are able to reprocess traumatic information until it is no longer psychologically disruptive.
To put more simply; think of your brain as a complex water way system, at times something happens where things are flushed down the pipes that don’t belong there and get stuck. Over time this can develop into a serious of clogs and the water stops flowing. EMDR works like pouring Drano down the sink and allows the clog to be cleared away and things to start ‘flowing’ again naturally, the way they were built to. Hence, when the gunk from bad experiences/ thoughts/ fears are cleared out the clog is gone and you are able to think/feel/ respond to things as you were built to as well.
EMDR: The Science Stuff
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a type of therapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that EMDR can facilitate positive changes and healing that would have previously taken years to accomplish with traditional talk based treatment models. EMDRIA (the international certifying body for EMDR treatment) explains it best:
It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes http://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr.
What Research and Evidence is there on EMDR’s effectiveness?
Initially, EMDR was utilized and studied as a therapy for PTSD. More than 30 controlled clinical trials of EMDR therapy have now been completed and reported, attesting to its value and demonstrating its usefulness across all ages, genders, and cultures for post-traumatic stress disorders. The VA has incorporated it as a primary treatment for Veterans with PTSD. Trained clinicians have since modified and applied the basic protocols of this psychotherapy to many other conditions, including those listed above.
Our EMDR Therapists:
What to expect in your counseling sessions
road-map for emdr in therapy
what does the emdr process look like?
The decision to explore new treatment options for managing emotional traumas is often a difficult one and many times our clients are hesitant about beginning the process. Initially looking into what EMDR is can be both overwhelming and confusing. We will do our best to educate you on both the treatment process and what you may experience or expect before, during and after your treatment. EMDR is a very personalized treatment process and there is no set timeline from start to end. Although EMDR can be a fast process in some situations where there is a single trauma incident and no complicating factors, in most situations of trauma processing we can anticipate several targets and a minimum of three to six month timeline.
Session Breakdown- Looking at an 8 stage process of treatment
Prior to Your First Session: You will receive a link to your patient portal where you can complete your opening paperwork and background assessments. This gives your therapist a chance to review your information and better prepare for your intake appointment, and saves valuable time during that first appointment. Often times people find it helpful to read up on EMDR prior to coming in for your first appointment. A great resource for this is the book “Getting Past Your Past” by Francine Shapiro.
1) History Taking: This will include your ‘intake’ appointment. With most of the opening paperwork out of the way, this first couple sessions will include meeting with your therapist to review the factors that led you into counseling and to begin to structure the counseling relationship as well as discussing the details of informed consent in counseling.
We will explore your past/current family history, medical/mental health struggles, and current supports or stressors you are dealing with. We will also explore the symptoms that you are wanting to treat with EMDR and what foundation may have been laid from previous treatment and coping strategies. Together we will assesses your treatment readiness and develop a treatment plan.
You will be given more detailed information on the EMDR process and forms to complete on both positive resource memories as well as negative childhood and life experiences to complete prior to your next appointment. This will help us better develop a plan of approach and ensure we can respond to any questions you may have about the process prior to starting active treatment.
2) Preparation: Your therapist will assess current coping skills and outlets while teaching and reinforcing healthy and adaptive ways to manage emotions that may occur during EMDR process. The length of this stage will vary depending on your existing coping skills and resources. We will be introducing you to the concepts of bilateral stimulation (using eye movements, sound or vibrating pads in your hands to stimulate Left Right Brain Processing) and how these will be used in treatment. Some of the typical resourcing activities we will engage in will work to develop your ability to ground yourself in the present when being stimulated by traumatic memories or disturbing thought content. We will not more forward until we are confident in your readiness for addressing trauma with an ability to close those difficult thoughts and memories at the end of each session to prevent emotional flooding between appointments. We will always have your health and best interest as our top priority moving through this treatment.
We will then being to develop a list of EMDR ‘targets’ you want to address. These will be the current symptoms, struggles or thought patterns that are impacting your day to day life.
3) Assessment: Your therapist will work with you to identify which targets need to be processed; this will involve starting at the present symptom and helping you ‘travel backward’ into previous experiences, thoughts or interactions that may be underlying these current symptoms. This will include identifying a mental image, negative belief and feelings associated with this target.
4) Reprocessing: Your therapist will lead you through ‘sets’ (a certain # of passes, typically between 20-30) of bilateral stimulation (eye movements, tactile stimulation or sounds) that allow you mind to move towards more healthy and adaptive ways to process memories. Your therapist will help you to move through sets but YOU are the one who makes connections and allows memories to heal and change. This is a Passive process, you do not need to be actively ‘trying’ to make anything happen. The bilateral process works like putting drano through your pipes, it allows you to naturally clean out clogs so that your pipes can run smoother. You will always have control in the process and be able to stop at any time if you do not feel comfortable or able to continue. Your therapist will be there with you for the entire experience and assist you in linking in the positive coping skills and resources you developed in your initial treatment.
5) Installation: When targets have transitioned away from negative beliefs and emotional disruption to healthier and more adaptive ones we then work to reinforce this inside of your belief system. This will be done by ‘checking in’ on your positive beliefs and the level of connection you are able to experience with that. Often rating this on a 1-7 scale and using shorter ‘sets’ of bilateral stimulation until it FEELS completely true to you. Again remember, You are in control of this process and your therapist will not develop the positive concepts installed, you will.
6) Body Scan: After you complete the installation process you will be shown how to assess yourself for any remaining physical distress or disruptions related to target memory. Any disruptions noted will be processed through until your body feels comfortable and relaxed.
7) Closure: Your therapist assists you in creating closure at the end of each session and ensuring you have the emotional resources and calming outlets needed to manage any emotions or distress between sessions. There are two levels of closure, that at the end of each processing session regardless if your target has been ‘completed’ or not and the closure after a positive installation and clear body scan.
8) Reevaluation: At the following session your therapist will help you reassess your target needs and direction in treatment. This may then involve moving on to another ‘target’ that had been identified or completing your EMDR treatment process.
“TUNE UP” Sessions: (As needed) In the counseling process, we sometimes need check in sessions after the completion of the ‘official’ treatment process. This is not unusual and is not a failure in treatment. It is much like the process of taking your car in for a yearly tune up or oil change to address the normal wear and tear it acquires by driving in the Western Pennsylvania weather. This can keep everything aligned and running smoothly and may only last two to three sessions.
never stop learning
There are also some great resources available to use to assist yourself and/or a loved one explore and understand this great evidenced based treatment. Some of the ones we often recommend include:
- EMDR Trauma Recovery Assistance Program
- EMDRIA: EMDR International Association: Creating Global, Health & Hope
- EMDR Connect Facebook Group
- Getting Past Your Past (book)- Francine Shapiro
- Inside Out by Pixar gives a great overview of the brain/memory process that can give you a common language to discuss this with your therapist.
- EMDR with Children & Adolescents
- How does EMDR work? A neuroscience explanation. – EMDR Therapy Sydney|Clinical Psychologist
- Prolonged Exposure: Helping During Treatment (va.gov)
- EMDR Trauma Therapy: Family/Friends’ Role
EMDR can help!
are you ready?
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143 E Wallace ave, New Castle, PA 16101