• Do you always feel on guard?
• Are you are easily startled?
• Do you tend to be clumsy or forgetful?
• Do you have nightmares, difficulty sleeping?
• Do you have flashbacks to events from your past?
• Do you have strong negative beliefs about yourself or the world?
• Do you feel distant or cut off from other people?
• Do you tend to be irritable?
• Do you have angry outburst or tend to act aggressively?
• Do you feel triggered by things in your day-to-day life that result in your feeling super angry or fearful, even if your reaction does not make sense to you at the time?
• Do you wish you could be calmer, more in control of your emotions and better able to manage your relationships?
If you answered Yes to any of the above questions, there is hope! EMDR is a scientifically-based treatment that can help you. Read on to learn more about EMDR and see if it's right for you.
EMDR is a type of structured psychotherapy intervention used to help clients process trauma. EMDR allows a client to focus briefly on a trauma memory while simultaneously using bilateral sensory stimulation (typically eye movements or tapping), which reduces the intensity of the emotion associated with the trauma memories. (https://www.emdria.org/about-emdr-therapy/)
EMDR is considered a type of cognitive behavior therapy first developed by U.S. psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late 1980’s. Shapiro initially used directed eye movements, but bilateral stimulation also includes bilaterally tapping of the body or alternating auditory sounds. The bilateral sensory stimulation of EMDR, whether through directed eye movements, tapping the body lightly, or through sound, seems to distract and calm the nervous system as the client’s mind processes and releases the trauma reaction stored in the nervous system. EMDR then helps clients to reduce the occurrence of disturbing images and body sensations, difficult emotional sensations, and destructive beliefs.
Traditional EMDR may incorporate additional protocols such as the Ego State Protocol to help reduce urges for additive substance or behaviors.
At RTPC, we also incorporate a gentler form of EMDR processing, Attachment-Focused EMDR, which combines traditional EMDR techniques with an attachment repair focus. Developed by Laura Parnell, AF-EMDR pairs resource tapping TM (Parnell) with traditional EMDR to process trauma. Resource tapping helps clients become stronger and repair damage done from childhood (developmental) trauma. AF-EMDR incorporates an attachment-repair orientation to all phases of EMDR work.
According to Parnell, her AF-EMDR approach allows clients who have tended to be less responsive or have difficulty with traditional EMDR protocols, to benefit from EMDR. This tends to be clients that have had early childhood trauma due to childhood physical or sexual abuse, neglect, early losses, birth trauma, medical trauma, parental drug or alcohol abuse, caregiver mis-attunement, secondary trauma, and the cumulative effects of all.
These clients often are in seen therapy as depressed, with relationship difficulties or problems at work. These types of clients tend to not feel fully alive or whole. These types of childhood trauma tends to impact clients sense of safety and capacity to form close adult emotional relationships.
EMDR has shown to be effective in treating:
• Panic attacks,
• Obsessive compulsive disorder
• Chronic pain
• Medical trauma
• Eating disorders
• Trauma resulting from violence
• Abuse, whether it be sexual, emotional or physical abuse
• Military combat trauma
• First responder trauma
• Grief and loss
• Compulsive behaviors
• Social phobia
• Sleep disturbances
• Other distressing life experiences
Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create an overwhelming feeling of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories, and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved. (EMDRIA).
Typically, an EMDR focused intervention runs through 8 phases including initial history discovery and treatment planning, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and then reevaluation. Theses phases may be repeated with the same client multiple times for different traumas or different reactions to a specific trauma, until the client no longer feels activated by the memory. (https://www.emdria.org/about-emdr-therapy/experiencing-emdr-therapy/)
Yes! The EMDR treatment process has extensive research behind it for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR is considered an evidence-based therapy and is recommended by VA to help veterans with trauma processing. EMDR is also an evidence-based treatment for depression (https://www.emdria.org/specialty-areas/depression/emdr-therapy-and-depression/ ) and eating disorders (https://www.emdria.org/public-resources/emdr-therapy-and-eating-disorders/).
According to EMDRIA (the EMDR International Association): EMDR therapy has shown to be superior to Prozac in trauma treatment (Van der Kolk et al., 2007). More than 7 million people have been treated successfully by 110,000 therapists in 130 countries since 2016 with EMDR therapy (Shapiro and Forrest, 2016). (emdr-therapy/recent-research-about-emdr/)
Contact us at RTPC and we will give you a free 20-minute phone consult to determine if trying EMDR may be useful to you. If not, we can discuss ways of helping you with our other interventions.
All of our sessions, individual, family and group therapy, are delivered via telehealth.
At RTPC, our work is informed by Brene Brown, shame and vulnerability researcher; Bessel van der Kolk, leading expert in the field of trauma recovery; Peter Levine, master somatic therapist; and Marsha Linnehan, creator of dialectical behavior therapy, a type of psychotherapy that combines behavioral science with Buddhist concepts of acceptance and mindfulness.