As a psychotherapist, I have helped many heal and transform over the years. But, despite meaningful progress, there were times when I felt we couldn’t quite reach the root of the emotional issues. There was a call to go deeper and to do the work more effectively and more quickly.
The psychotherapy journey is filled with potent moments for healing and growth. If you can capture these opportunities with the right emotional therapeutic response, presence, and the right tool, at the right moment, there is so much potential for healing and growth.
About seven years ago, I realized I needed to add something more to what I already was as a clinician. I wanted to seize as many opportunities for transformation as possible and ensure that we were doing the work that would lead to more rapid, lasting change.
In 2015, my quest to be that “something more” as a psychotherapist brought me to discover EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
At first, the original practice of EMDR, of “following a therapist’s finger with your eyes” (maybe you’ve seen anything like this on TV or social media), seemed like some strange science. It wasn’t something I wanted to do because it felt like it would interfere with my preferred state of emotional presence and attunement with my clients.
But, as I pursued my EMDR certification, I had the chance to discover Attachment-EMDR – a form of EMDR that is strongly rooted in the relational and attachment models. As I started to blend EMDR in my practice, I saw its power for healing and transformation. I also discovered that EMDR has come a long way since its origins. As a practitioner, I have never had to do anything that felt strange or misaligned with how I provide psychotherapy.
Yes, EMDR has come a long way from its original form. Here is what I have discovered about EMDR…
EMDR is like magic, but it’s grounded in the science of psychotherapy and the power of relationships.
As “magical” as it is, the power of EMDR – like any other psychotherapy tool – still depends on the clinician’s ability to be attuned to the client’s journey. EMDR, allows an attuned clinician to access potent moments for healing and growth. The kind of EMDR I practice is firmly grounded in the matrix of the therapeutic relationship – where the essential elements of emotional connection (feeling seen, felt, understood, held with compassion, inspired to change, accepted to bring forth your real self) remain central to the treatment. It’s based on your attachment style as well as your relational experiences, needs, or deficits. It is highly attuned to you as a complex and unique human being. It works with your unique experiences, struggles, longing, hopes, and dreams.
Our goal is to heal, shift, and transform not only big traumatic events, but also attachment and relational conflicts because injuries caused by relationships are at the root of most emotional challenges. We also look at the ego states developed due to past trauma (i.e. I am not good enough, I can’t be loved for who I am, I’m damaged). Sometimes treating a traumatic event is just the beginning of unfolding layers of previous trauma.
This relational approach to EMDR allows you to stay connected to your internal world and allows me to be present and attuned to you. We work with the root of your challenges, rather than just addressing the symptoms. This type of EMDR relieves the symptoms by clearing the emotional conflicts and trauma that create the symptoms.
And, for those who want to expand creativity or performance on stage, or at work, EMDR is also effective. Attachment and relational trauma impacts not only your relationships with others, but also your creativity, stage performance, career development, and so much more.
So, How Does the Brain Science of EMDR Really Work?
EMDR therapy works with bilateral eye stimulation. Just like in your nighttime dreams when you have REM (rapid eye movement), EMDR accesses your eyes’ natural bilateral movement, which helps you process emotional experiences. Again this isn’t magic, it’s brain science. Bilateral eye movement stimulates structures in the middle of your brain that are involved in processing and integrating your emotional experiences.
When you’re emotionally free from conflicts and trauma, these brain structures actively work together by connecting your left, right brain, your frontal lobe, and with the nervous system (spread throughout your body).
When the different parts of your brain and mind work well together, you feel alive, filled with feelings, aware, connected to your decision making abilities and your sense of agency. Your feelings, your body, and your beliefs all dance and flow together. This is when people describe it as feeling more authentic, real, grounded, confident, engaged, “at ease with who I am.
These midbrain structures (that connect all the parts of your mind together) start developing at about four to six years old and this process continues into your early twenties. Thereafter, it slows down but still continues throughout your life. Through this process, many of your early experiences become part of your unconscious mind.
What lies in your unconscious influences who you are and how you respond to life events now. With or without your permission, your old childhood emotional conflicts can be re-enacted, unless addressed and re-integrated in your adult self. This is the path to healing and growth. You are not stuck with what happened to you.
None of that “following a therapist’s finger!” With the newer form of EMDR, bilateral eye movement is accessed in ways that are more organic and more natural
Following a therapist’s finger can feel distracting and strange. There’s a new way to access the same parts of the brain: an EMDR NeuroTek device. You hold the “tappers” and a vibration moves from your left hand to your right, and back. This actually stimulates bilateral eye movement.
Now you don’t even need to use this NeuroTek device. You can cross your hands across your chest and tap your shoulders in a position called the butterfly tap. Using your own body’s energy is a powerful way to access your emotional healing and transformation process. Most people find the butterfly tap emotionally very soothing and comforting. It is a highly attuned way of working with your own energy.
I have found that my clients love a combination of butterfly tap and the NeuroTek
EMDR device. They complement each other and work together in a synergetic way with all I am bringing as a clinician.
Is EMDR the right choice for you?
I hope this gives you some understanding about EMDR. As I hope you are beginning to see, EMDR is magic, science, and art all at the same time. I can promise you that you’ll find EMDR a powerful, deeply intimate, effective, emotionally cathartic, and empowering emotional work.
EMDR is right for you if: 1. You have been in therapy but you feel there is still there something not processed, holding you back, or something that still needs to be released. 2. You have a history of relational trauma 3. You are working with a life coach but you can’t seem to improve 4. You have experienced narcissistic abuse 5. You can’t seem to invest yourself in creating your life 6. You have relationship difficulties 7. You have attachment wounds interfering with your life and relationships 8. You have abandonment issue 9. You’ve been bullied 10. Your emotional issue are interfering with your creativity, your performance, or your creative career. You suffer form anxiety, depression, or addiction. 11. You want to heal and grow but you don’t want to do “all that therapy talk.” 12. You want in-depth, inside-out, effective, yet timely sensitive emotional work. Just to name a few.
If you have any questions or you’d like to pursue EMDR therapy or therapy that includes EMDR, you can contact me for your free 15 minute consultation to see if this therapy is appropriate for you.
More about me and my practice: I am certified in psychoanalytic/psychodynamic therapy, EMDR therapy, and I am trained in CBT, positive psychology, solution-focused, and family systems. My approach is grounded in the neuroscience of psychotherapy and relationships in order to help people like you discover how to live fully in the present and create more fulfilling, successful lives. To me, therapy is an art and science at the same time.
I have particular expertise working with creatives, performers, and artists of all kinds including writers, screenwriters, actors, fine artists, musicians, producers, directors, fashion designers, and creative entrepreneurs. My office is in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. I provide in-person and online psychotherapy to people across California.