Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing


I have specialized training in EMDR (eye movement desensitization & reprocessing), which is an evidence-based practice shown to be effective in decreasing psychological distress caused by trauma and disturbing life experiences. In addition, I use EMDR therapy when appropriate for those who are wanting to process emotionally charged events that cause ongoing psychological distress.


What is EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a late-stage, trauma resolution method. Developed in the late 1980's, EMDR currently has more scientific research as a treatment for trauma than any other non-pharmaceutical intervention. Based on empirical evidence as well as thousands of client and clinician testimonials, EMDR has proven an efficacious and rapid method of reprocessing traumatic material.

EMDR appears to assist in processing of traumatic information, resulting in enhanced integration - and a more adaptive perspective of the traumatic material. The utilization of EMDR has been shown to obviate the need for some of the more difficult abreactive work (i.e. reliving the trauma), often associated with the psychoanalytic treatment of a variety of conditions, including generalized and specific anxieties, panic, PTSD symptoms (such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks), dissociative disorders, mood disorders and other traumatic experiences.

So, theoretically, EMDR is about integration- bilateral hemispheric (right/left brain) integration; triune brain (brain stem, limbic system and cerebral cortex) integration; and at least some type of mind/body integration, but practically, it’s about convincing the mind and body that the traumatic event is, indeed over.

EMDR helps to put the past in the past, where it belongs, instead of staying stuck in it (feeling like it is happened all over again in the present-with the same thoughts, emotions and body sensations- that accompanied the event in the past).

Is EMDR Dangerous?
You should know that this modality (EMDR for single-incident trauma) is a pretty simple protocol-easy for any literate person to master-, however, when administered by someone lacking requisite knowledge of trauma’s sequelae, this simple protocol may prove challenging, fear-inducing and-oftentimes re-traumatizing for clients. So there’s no misinterpretation of the last sentence, the EMDR protocol-original or modified is not dangerous, but any type of trauma work that deliberately activates a traumatic memory network without insisting that both client and clinician are adequately prepared to tolerate the effects of that activation is dangerous and irresponsible.

It follows then, that more valuable than a clinician with a training certificate in EMDR, clients are better served by competent, clinicians who possess a thorough knowledge of trauma-its effects and aftereffects, as well as knowledge of the current evidence-based, state-of-the art trauma resolution methods, which should include, but be not limited to the EMDR.

What Should I Expect from My Therapist?
As a client, you should expect that your clinician will-and does- continuously and vigilantly attend and re-attend to your safety and stabilization needs. To that end, please be aware that you are entitled to, and should expect the following:

• A solid therapeutic relationship, i.e. a good rapport and adequate trust in your therapist
• An explicit crisis plan-co-written by you
• Psychoeducation regarding trauma-its effects, aftereffects and current treatment options-including the modalities utilized by your therapist.
• Instruction in-and acquisition of- skills for self, affect and emotion regulation, arousal reduction and distress tolerance prior to trauma work, i.e., before any reprocessing of trauma, you should:

o Feel stable
o Have access to an external support system
o Have a decent sense of self and identity
o in a relatively healthy manner, be able to handle or manage the intensity of your own emotions
o Be sure to ask your clinician specifically what all of this means and how (s)he will prepare you for reprocessing traumatic material