EMDR Therapy: A Powerful, Effective Approach to Healing and Transformation
by Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Psy.D., LMFT
Did you know that your past experiences and the feelings associated with them can interfere with the sense of “emotional freedom” you can enjoy today? Aspects of your past and unresolved emotions can get in the way of your ability to live with love, creativity, and productivity.
If you’re seeking a deep, lasting way to heal old emotional wounds or trauma, EMDR, short for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is an effective treatment in helping you heal and make emotional shifts.
My clients come to me because they are looking for an EMDR therapist who can help them transform the feelings, beliefs, and embodied emotional states that have been holding them back.
At the start of our work, people find themselves thinking and saying things like:
- “I can’t be successful at…”
- “I don’t trust…”
- “my shame gets in the way when…””
- “rejection stops me from…”
- “guilt is not letting me…
- “I feel empty inside…”
- “my fears take over and I can’t…”
- “I doubt that I can…”
- “I don’t have the self-confidence to…”
- “I am not worthy of…,”
Through treatment, clients’ feelings and beliefs begin to change to reflect a sense of healing, wholeness, and the kind of emotional freedom that allows them to live a rich life marked by creativity, accomplishment, and nurturing relationships.
Are old emotional wounds holding you back?
Maybe you have heard yourself say many of the things on that list. Maybe you haven’t been aware of your own inner dialogue but you notice your life is not working. Your relationships, your creativity, or your sense of agency are really suffering and you’re seeking answers.
Perhaps you still feel the imprint of some traumatic memories that you have been unable to face and work through. You may have a history of emotional abuse, emotional neglect, being bullied, violence, or sexual abuse that you have been trying to cope with or just “get past.”
There is help. You can heal and life a full life.
Luckily, in recent decades, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy has proven to be a powerful psychotherapy approach that helps people find freedom from painful emotional states or traumatic memories that keeps them from living their fulfilling life.
While EMDR is often the treatment of choice for those who suffered major traumas—such as wars, disasters, accidents, or assaults—it’s also a very effective therapy for healing childhood trauma. EMDR helps to resolve complex trauma that emerges from subtle and repeated instances of shame, humiliation, and rejection. All of these forms of trauma can manifest as anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, self-esteem issues, performance anxiety, and creative blocks.
Do you need help resolving emotional trauma? Is EMDR for you?
Many of our emotional struggles come from being stuck in a past experience that was particularly painful or traumatic. The tricky part is that you may not even be aware that you’re repeating the same old story over and over again.
Traumatic, unprocessed memories get stuck in your mind. When triggered, they can make you feel and act as if you are back in the past. You respond to the present with the emotions and attitudes of your past self. This pattern keeps you stuck and gets in the way of your ability to grow and transform.
You may hear that you need to “live in the present” and “just have a positive mindset,” but this kind of well-intentioned advice can actually leave you feeling even more isolated and misunderstood.
Overcoming traumatic or painful experiences isn’t as simple as choosing a new mindset. Fear, doubt, shame and self-criticism can quickly take over. When you try to push through your emotions, you find yourself lost in anxiety, depression, relationships issues, performance anxiety, and creative blocks.
How does EMDR work?
EMDR is a revolutionary approach that incorporates bilateral stimulation (eye movements, tapping, or sounds) to help the brain process and integrate upsetting memories.
EMDR Therapy heals the pain and the disturbing memories connected to traumatic experiences. At the same time, it also frees you from challenging feelings and beliefs, distressing body sensations, and trapped emotions.
What Is AF-EMDR Therapy? And How Does It Work?
Many trauma-related emotional problems benefit from a specifically adapted therapy model of EMDR called Attachment-Focused EMDR (AF-EMDR). If your trauma is relational based, you need a AF- EMDR.
AF-EMDR is a targeted, research-supported, empirically validated form of traditional EMDR therapy. It combines the latest scientific insights and research on the neurobiology of relationships and psychotherapy with the EMDR treatment framework.
This attachment-based modification of EMDR therapy is particularly helpful if you have relational trauma. It’s designed to treat relational trauma – emotional trauma due to unhealthy relationships – which is at the root of most emotional issues.
Perhaps traumatic experiences during your childhood are interfering with your ability to form genuine relationships. Unprocessed, distressing memories get stuck in your mind and, when triggered, take you back to an emotionally hurtful place in your mind. You cannot respond to the challenges of the present moment when you are busy reacting to these invisible memories from the past.
Maybe you’re experiencing performance anxiety, creative blocks, or problems in your career. Or you may be feeling depressed, anxious, or like you just don’t feel fully alive. You may not realize that these symptoms are related to some past experiences or trauma in your life. It is very likely you are working with a relational trauma.
AF-EMDR therapy helps you access these unprocessed emotions, which other forms of therapy often can’t tap into so fast and efficiently. Instead of just treating the symptoms, it addresses the root of your difficulties. AF-EMDR has the ability to break through the trauma and to help you process it, creating healthier and more empowering emotional mind states.
For instance, if you lack self-esteem and you find it hard to trust your own abilities even though you’re very capable, an EMDR therapist can help you function with more confidence in who you really are. EMDR THERAPY can help you reconnect to your unique mix of talent, gifts, and weaknesses.
EMDR doesn’t just reframe emotional pain. It actually heals your deep-rooted pain and connects you with a sense of grounded confidence in your true self so you can experience true growth.
As an EMDR therapist, I use a combination of proven therapy techniques based on the neurobiology of trauma, psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, mindfulness, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and psychoanalysis along with EMDR.
With the help of EMDR, you’ll be able to finally step outside from the trauma box into emotional freedom.
You can’t change the past, but you change how you feel about it and hold it inside you. After treatment, you no longer live from an emotionally painful and conflicting place, you have access to who you really are to create your life.
When Trauma Blocks Access To Your Abilities and Talents and Limits Your Creative and Professional Potential
Trauma can affect people from all walks of life, but I often work with a unique group of individuals who tend to suffer from relational or developmental trauma: professionals in the creative arts including performers, musicians, fine artists, and screenwriters.
As an artist, you navigate a high-pressure environment as you frequently deal with rejection, abandonment, and more. Unresolved traumas and the limiting emotions and beliefs that come with them can diminish your creative potential and hinder your career.
One of my areas of expertise is in helping those in creative and artistic careers to move past complex emotional and developmental trauma. I’m particularly drawn to “true artists”—people who don’t see artistic expressions as just a job, but who see their art as the source of their life energy. They have to create to feel alive!
Throughout my 20 plus years of practicing psychotherapy, my deep appreciation for my clients’ creative energy has helped me to relate and connect with them on an intimate level so that they felt safe and comfortable bringing up anything they needed during treatment sessions.
By utilizing EMDR therapy, I’ve been able to help these clients reach a place where anxiety, depression, trauma, performance anxiety, and creative blocks no longer negatively affect their professional growth.
Time and again, I have walked beside creatives as they set off on their healing path. Once their trauma was processed in a healthy way, they could finally access their true selves. Thanks to our psychotherapy process, I see artists and performers become fully present in their lives, ready to showcase their abilities and talents in a renewed way. With a new sense of confidence, they step into greater career opportunities and success. I would like to help you do the same.
My Personalized Approach To EMDR Therapy
I always approach therapy with the intention of making it an in-depth, rich, emotional, relational experience that helps you thrive in the long-term.
As we attune to the specifics of your journey to healing and transformation, we identify what’s not working in your life, get to the root of the problem, and break through what is keeping you stuck.
I’ve been trained in Attachment-Focused EMDR at the Parnell Institute, where I developed an appreciation for just how amazingly powerful the AF-EMDR therapy method is in trauma treatment. As I worked with a variety of clients, I was able to see first-hand that EMDR can even help those people who were getting stuck when using other modalities.
And, I realized that EMDR gives me the ability to add an extra layer to my treatment, to help my clients even faster and more effectively along with my previously established psychotherapy approaches.
In our sessions, I may blend EMDR with other psychotherapy approaches. Most likely, we will start with a more “traditional” therapeutic approach, and we’ll incorporate EMDR therapy throughout the therapy journey, depending on your needs and goals in the treatment.
Additional approaches that we may use in session—such as psychodynamic psychoanalytic and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques—are all based on the neuroscience of psychotherapy. I found that these modalities can work very powerfully together with EMDR.
Psychotherapy is a science, an art, and a craft, all at the same time.
Find Lasting Healing From Trauma
If you’re ready to break free from the limitations of trauma and live with emotional freedom please contact me to find out what EMDR therapy in person or EMDR therapy online is appropriate for you.
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