- How long can I expect for it to take?
- How do you customize the pacing of EMDR with clients?
- The 8 Phases of EMDR
- What are the potential unwanted side effects?
- Is EMDR the same as Hypnosis?
- I’ve seen a lot of bilateral stimulation videos and tools available to public now. There are videos all over TikTok and YouTube. Can I self-administer EMDR and do it without a therapist?
- I’m afraid to talk about my past? Every time I do, I feel worse and not better. Will this help me?
- I have complex trauma and have experienced several bad experiences in my life. Is EMDR a fit for me?
- I’ve been told I have dissociative symptoms. Can I still do EMDR?
- How is EMDR different from the other models used in trauma therapy?
- How do I start the EMDR process with Ellen?
How long can I expect for it to take?
- EMDR can also take several sessions to work, though you could notice some improvement after your first session.
- You might find the beginning of therapy triggers some emotional distress and discomfort, especially if you’re just starting to deal with traumatic events.
- But since EMDR doesn’t require you to talk about the trauma at length or spend extensive time thinking about it, it may feel less overwhelming than other approaches used to treat trauma.
How do you customize the pacing of EMDR with clients?
I consider the following:
Type and degree of trauma or concerns we are addressing.
The amount of the traumatic injuries (multiple memories or events may increase complexity).
What are you present centered goals for your mental health.
The internal and external resources are necessary for the individual to enter the desensitizing and reprocessing phases.
The 8 Phases of EMDR
Remember- EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
The 8 Phases of EMDR
We talk about your history, identify memories you want to reprocess, and plan your treatment. We also assess your ability to tolerate tough emotions, or your “window of tolerance.” You learn grounding exercises to use during our sessions to help you access emotions from a more reflective, stable place.
- We activate the memory by identifying the images, thoughts, emotions, beliefs about yourself, and body sensations linked with this memory.
- We then use a technique called bilateral stimulation (BLS) that stimulates both sides of your brain using visual, auditory, or tactile cues.
- BLS moves in a rhythmic, left-right pattern and may include eye movements, tapping, or a series of sounds.
- Research shows that BLS may be effective because it helps to work on processing implicit memories in our Working Memory and specifically held in the emotional center of our brain. During this process, your brain makes new, adaptive connections and the emotional impact of the memory is diminished. (Read more on the mechanism of action for EMDR- ask Ellen, she likes to nerd out on the neurobiology.)
Once these memories are successfully reprocessed and resolved, you are then more likely to feel freed up to live in the present moment, and to plan for the future.
In the final phase, we reevaluate your newly reprocessed memories. We talk about changes you’ve noticed and what goals you’d like to focus on next.
- One benefit of EMDR is that it can have a generalizing effect. This means that if you have many memories related to a common theme, you may not need to reprocess each one.
- Resolving early or formative experiences may have a positive ripple effect on the memories formed from that point forward–and can even affect how your brain handles future experiences.
What are the potential unwanted side effects?
While experts generally recognize EMDR as a safe and effective approach with few unwanted effects, you could potentially experience a few side effects, including:
- vivid, realistic dreams
- heightened sensitivity to physical sensations or emotions
If you do become distressed during treatment, your therapist will help you return to the present before shifting to another traumatic memory. Remember, too, that you’ll also learn relaxation and mindfulness strategies before you get started, and these techniques can help you manage those unwanted emotions.
Is EMDR the same as Hypnosis?
No, EMDR therapy is different from hypnosis. During EMDR, you have “dual awareness,” which means that you’re both fully present within the room (due to the bilateral stimulation and me checking in with you), and also accessing and processing memories within your brain. You have full control and can stop EMDR reprocessing at any point.
I’ve seen a lot of bilateral stimulation videos and tools available to public now. There are videos all over TikTok and YouTube. Can I self-administer EMDR and do it without a therapist?
I do believe that learning and practicing bi-lateral stimulation and body centered (somatic) techniques is very important! I want more people to use this knowledge to improve their lives.
I believe we are not meant to heal in isolation, humans are community oriented. EMDR therapists are charged with exploring that participants have several strengths, supports and resources prior to participating in the model to minimize unwanted effects and emotional overload. There is power of the therapeutic relationship. A therapist can assist you in healing by creating a safe and environment for processing of trauma and strong emotions.
“Good EMDR happens in the context of a good therapeutic relationship- in which there is mutual trust built up over a period of time. That will generally allow people to freedom to respond in a manner which is natural to them.”
-Experienced EMDR practitioner Dr. James Alexander
He also stated, “Yes, it can be self-administered (as can EFT)- but, not advisable when dealing with anything other than very small t traumas (and the distinction between them and Big T traumas can disappear quickly once you get into them- we are often surprised by how much charge even small traumas can entail). Overall, I’d suggest that we are not really ‘meant’ to try and address trauma on our own. So, I’d recommend getting over any reserve and working with a skilled therapist. And keep in mind, there is no necessity for big cathartic responses to EMDR- some people will demonstrate this, others won’t, and there is no difference in the outcomes.
People have differing levels of comfort with emotional expression- EMDR is not trying to force any particular mode, just allowing people to respond in a way they feel comfortable with. “
I’m afraid to talk about my past? Every time I do, I feel worse and not better. Will this help me?
With EMDR therapy, you can share as much or as little as you want. I believe in choice and safety.
You do not have to share your memories in detail if it would be too triggering, or if you don’t have the words to do so. The work of EMDR happens inside your brain, even if you don’t verbalize everything.
I have complex trauma and have experienced several bad experiences in my life. Is EMDR a fit for me?
Yes. EMDR is self-paced, and therapist guided. This means that you can discuss with me what issues are most troubling to you for your present experience and we will prioritize those concerns. You do not need to feel “overwhelmed” by what has happened to you. Because of the fact that we are working on desensitizing and reprocessing implicit memories, we see often work on one set of core memories, the results generalize and give overall support of the emotional response.
I’ve been told I have dissociative symptoms. Can I still do EMDR?
We’ll do a thorough assessment to help ensure that EMDR is the right fit for you.
Each person is unique, and we will work to build a treatment plan that works for you, your life circumstance and resources. I often work with people on dissociation through building grounding, relaxation, polyvagal stimulation and positive cognitive restructuring prior to entering any EMDR work.
How is EMDR different from the other models used in trauma therapy?
The Model, Methodology, & Mechanism Model of EMDR
Model: The Adaptive Information Processing Model (EMDR Therapy founder Dr. Francine Shapiro created the AIP model to explain how unhealed traumatic memories are stored in the brain and ultimately lead to unwanted responses.)
Methodology: The 8-Phase Standard Protocol, within a larger “three-pronged” protocol for EMDR Therapy, with appropriate considerations made for ethics, therapeutic relationship, and relevant clinical variations/modifications.
Mechanism: Still largely regarded as hypothetical or theoretical, the neuroscience on the mechanisms of action at play in EMDR Therapy continues to give EMDR therapists new information about what’s at work (Landon-Romero, Moreno-Alcazar, Pagani, et al., 2018).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Focus of therapy: Dysfunctional beliefs and behaviors
Treatment: Direct work with beliefs, emotions and behaviors
Focus of therapy: Unprocessed physiologically (body) linked memories.
Treatment: Accessing and processing of memories, triggers, and future templates
Focus of therapy: Problems and solutions are interactional with others. The therapist does an exploration and evaluation of family dynamics.
Treatment: Change through education and role realignment
How trauma affects the brain
Flipping Our Lid- The Alarm Response!
Window of Tolerance – Brain and Body Arousal
Survival Brain Develops First– Four Part Brain” graphic shows the time sequence from the bottom up
- First, the brain stem develops (pink)
- Then the diencephalon cerebellum (yellow) (PINK and YELLOW make up our primitive reptilian “survival” brain.)
- Next develop the emotional limbic brain which only mammals have (green),
- The thinking and processing brain neocortex (blue).
How do I start the EMDR process with Ellen?
If you are a current client, we can discuss how to incorporate into your healing plan.
If you are a new client and are interested in working with Ellen, please contact me using the form below.