You can't stop feeling reactive
despite how much you have worked through what happened.
Perhaps you still feel traumatized or overwhelmed, your body frozen between fight or flight. Maybe you have made a great deal of progress in your life, but recent contact with a family member or a family event has you reliving all the negative thoughts and feelings you experienced years ago. Perhaps you have been in therapy for years but can’t seem to overcome the feeling of, “I’m not wanted,” “I’m not good enough,” or “It’s not okay to be me.”
Perhaps you often feel anxious and emotional, and you have noticed how it’s impacting every aspect of your wellbeing. You are:
On-edge physically— you feel agitated, sad, and perhaps hyper-alert. You may feel your heart racing, your throat tightening, or your chest becoming heavy when you think of what’s happened. It can take a while for your body to calm down.
Hurting emotionally— deep inside, you know that you have people who love you, want you, and approve of you, but you just can’t shake your negative feelings about yourself. Sometimes you even feel ashamed about these feelings and start to blame yourself for feeling the way you do.
Suffering relationally— you have a few supportive and trustworthy relationships, but your relationship with your family (or family of origin) or a particular family member can be volatile and painful. You may struggle to maintain your boundaries, but it’s easy to be sucked back into a relational dynamic or emotional space that you have worked hard to escape from.
If you desire healing and peace, and not having to continue carrying into the present what happened in the past,
EMDR therapy can help.
Together, we will:
Clarify your emotional wounds and pinpoint their triggers
Build new techniques and strategies you can use to skillfully prevent and respond to triggers
Build strategies to respond to these fears in a way that enhances your natural strengths and increases your confidence
Practice these strategies in session so you feel better able to apply them in challenging situations
Untie the emotional ropes that bind you to painful experiences and unhealthy family dynamics
Let me tell you a bit about EMDR therapy. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a mind-body based approach to healing. Having your eyes stimulated (by a technique designed just for this purpose) will help your brain to reprocess triggered physical sensations and negative feelings arising from past traumatic events, and to transform these feelings into healthier reactions.
Don’t worry, EMDR therapy is not invasive— and it can be done virtually! And while EMDR therapy itself is structured, our work together will be thoughtful and tailored to your strengths. My aim is to help you to enhance your ability to heal, to keep both feet in the present (no longer one foot in the past!), and to find peace within yourself and in the person you are becoming.
FAQ about EMDR Therapy for Trauma
1. What is an EMDR session like?
EMDR therapy is a stage-by-stage structured approach that will help you work through traumatizing experiences. The typical EMDR session will involve the two of us working together to identify the negative beliefs about yourself that your traumatizing event created, and to break the cycle of those negative thoughts resurfacing when triggered by new life experiences. We will also work together to create an alternative belief or view of your experiences so that
when we enter the stage of using eye movements to stimulate the brain, we can provide the mind an alternative path to making sense of your experiences.
In sessions where we engage in eye movement therapy, we will typically begin with (1) your recalling a previously identified significant memory related to the negative belief (such as “I’m abandoned”), (2) my facilitating eye movements for you to follow so that your brain begins to reprocess the memory (working from “I’m abandoned” towards a new belief such as “I can survive and my needs can be met”), and (3) a check-in about your emotional and physical responses. Towards the end of the entire EMDR process, you will likely feel less reactive to traumatic memories, less reactive to typically triggering situations, and calmer and more connected to yourself.
Here’s an example.
Situation: a woman experiences panic attacks when she has to speak in public because when she was younger a teacher humiliated her in front of class for having a speech impediment.
Treatment: In an EMDR session, I help the client recall that memory and her negative belief (“I’m no good”). While she remains focused on the memory and the belief, I guide her through a series of eye movements. After this, the client shares with me her emotional and physical reactions to the memory and negative belief. We repeat this process to allow the brain to rework its neural pathways. Over more sets of eye movement exercises, the strength of the memory and negative belief will weaken and the client can begin to consider how her preferred belief of “I’m brave” is an alternative way of interpreting her memories. Towards the end of the EMDR therapy process, the client might find that she has more confidence at work and in her relationships because she is no longer “no good.” In fact, she is brave and can overcome challenges!
For more information on the process of EMDR therapy, here is a good resource: https://www.emdria.org/about-emdr-therapy/experiencing-emdr-therapy/
2. Does EMDR therapy work through virtual/online therapy?
Yes! While EMDR therapy was originally an in-person form of therapy, the COVID-19 crisis has encouraged therapists and therapy-seekers to find adaptive ways to use EMDR therapy. There are now phone and tablet applications that can provide the eye movement stimulation virtually. When we work together, I will help you set up the application and adjust the settings so that you get the most out of the EMDR process.
3. What if I discover I don’t like EMDR or that EMDR doesn’t work for me?
EMDR therapy is very effective and can be tailored to your needs. However, it will require that you be willing to recall unpleasant memories, to endure painful emotions, and to have trust in the process. You may be a good fit for EMDR therapy but then realize that you are not quite ready for the intensity of the work. Or, you might simply feel that the approach is not your style. That’s OK! Healing can follow many paths; EMDR therapy is just one. We’ll talk about it and identify what might work best for you.
4. How can I get started with EMDR therapy?
Schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation with me by clicking the button below. We will discuss what has led you to seek EMDR therapy, and I will answer any questions you might have; this will help us determine if we are a “good fit.” If we both choose to move forward, we will schedule our intake session. I look forward to hearing from you!