Treatment for PTSD: My Approach to EMDR

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” – Kahlil Gibran

Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a well-established, best-practice treatment for PTSD. When working with clients seeking EMDR, my approach is to partner with you to face difficult experiences in a way that helps you move forward in life.  Painful events may lead to negative self-beliefs that can become engrained over time. We can know in our head that these things are not true and yet, we feel stuck, unable to integrate that head knowledge into our hearts.  EMDR is an integrative approach that facilitates the natural process of healing moving towards wholeness, resiliency and more positive self-beliefs.  Your brain and heart want to naturally heal themselves.

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EMDR consists of eight fluid phases that are woven together to address present triggers, past experiences and future actions. When we first meet, you will be asked to share your story with me and together, we will determine if EMDR is a good fit for you.  If so, we will discuss what supports you have in your life. If needed, we work on enhancing supports before moving into traumatic material.  Once we establish safety for you, we will develop three things  – an image or mental picture that is representative of the most difficult part of an experience, the negative self-belief you hold around this memory, and what would rather believe.  For example, a common negative self-belief I see in my work with clients is “I am not good enough.” With this one, we often work towards “I am okay just as I am.”

Once we develop these three things, I will ask you to rate how disturbing this image is to you in the present and through the desensitization phase, I will ask you to hold that image with the negative self-belief while we utilize eye movements. Through this process, we will work together to bring the level of disturbance down.  From there, we work to install the more positive, adaptive belief.  During the desensitization phase, I will often check in with you to see what comes up. I always encourage my clients to relax as much as possible and allow your brain to take you where to need to go.

Often people want to know what to expect from the first session. Depending on whether we have been working together already, it is important that you feel comfortable with me and know that I am here to support you.  Many people prefer this type of treatment for PTSD because you do not have to verbalize all aspects of the traumatic event. There is a wealth of research supporting this integrative approach.  Please see www.emdr.com for more information on the efficacy of this treatment. If you are interested in setting up an appointment for EMDR, please contact the office at 828-254-0749.

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