Tagged: manhattan trauma therapists

About Trauma: PTSD and EMDR Therapy

Posted on June 8, 2011

In order to understand EMDR, one needs to be clear about how trauma can affect the brain. When an individual experiences a traumatic event or multiple traumas they may develop what is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD as a response to the overwhelming event(s). When this occurs, the brain fails to successfully process the trauma leaving it “stuck” or “frozen” in the central nervous system. This often leads to numbness, dissociation, severe anxiety, depression, insomnia, addictions and physical complaints for the sufferer. In everyday life, the here and now, the body fails to recognize that the person is now safe and it reacts as though the danger is current, leaving the individual in a state of arousal. EMDR therapy as a treatment, is unique because it facilitates the processing of trauma information that has become “stuck” in the central nervous system. The various elements of EMDR therapy serves to calm the nervous system and lessen anxiety. It “uploads” for lack of a better word a more corrective experience, moving the client from pain and danger to “I survived,” “It wasn’t my fault” or “I did all that I could” as examples. Brain scans have actually captured information transferring from one side of a brain to another as a person experiences an EMDR session. The same cannot be said for other forms of therapies. Historically, we have used talk-based therapies, CBT or drugs to ameliorate the symptoms associated with PTSD. Talk therapy and a trusting relationship with the therapist is absolutely necessary and supportive for the duration of the treatment, but often, the brain will begin to loop back into the trauma, and the cycle will begin again.

We now know that individuals with PTSD have limbic systems that are more active then non-PTSD therapy clients. Psychotherapy or talk therapy may not de-condition the limbic system. These individuals experience extreme frustration as they work diligently in sessions and experience little symptomatic relief. Additionally, the retelling of their trauma experiences often leaves them retraumatized and even more vulnerable. Regarding the neurobiology of trauma we now know that early childhood trauma causes “synaptic pruning” which predisposes a person to developing PTSD.  A traumatic event “freezes” the integrative processes of the brain; the information is then stored in a fragmented form in the right side of the brain. Many individuals with trauma histories have lost the capacity to analyze and categorize arousing information because they can’t always “talk” about it and the left hemisphere is then “locked out” of the process. In short, the person attempting to talk their way to healing cannot utilize language in a way that allows them to gain the necessary distance from the painful stimulus. EMDR uses specific protocols to create distance so that the trauma can be reprocessed and fully integrated into both hemispheres of the brain. The grip of hyper-arousal and body tension is now lessened for the client and the nervous system can ease into a new calm.

After successful EMDR treatment the original trauma targets are less activating for clients. In short, their brains are not as geared to traumatic stimuli and better able to attend to more neutral stimuli going forward. In my opinion, the real beauty of EMDR treatment lies in its ability to provide the nervous system with calming, supportive experiences and images that serve the recovering client well after treatment has ended. The client is now empowered with an enhanced capacity to self-soothe and call upon nurturing and supportive images. Feelings of terror and helplessness are replaced with positive emotions and the new belief that one has power and efficacy in the here and now. When it comes to un-freezing trauma, the powerful combination of a supportive therapist and the wisdom of mind/body integration may provide superior treatment.

EMDR can treat trauma-related symptoms, as well as performance issues, addiction, substance abuse, depression, nightmares, fears, anxiety, panic disorder, eating disorders, health concerns, insomnia, sexual & emotional abuse issues and relationship problems.

Kimberly Seelbrede is a licensed New York City psychotherapist, consultant and EMDR therapist who specializes in an integrative approach to psychotherapy and coaching, working with adults, adolescents and couples. Kimberly is trained to collaborate with you in developing the insight and coping skills to address many concerns including: relationship difficulties, anxiety, depression, panic disorder, self-esteem, self-harm, ADD, ADHD, social difficulties, adolescent challenges, family issues, underachievement, perfectionism, identity concerns, sexual problems, addictions, compulsions, binge eating, phobias, obsessions, PTSD, trauma, loss and transitions, life purpose, health concerns, weight management, stress management, performance problems, life balance and meditation and mindfulness support.  Please email Kimberly to arrange a consultation in her Manhattan office. 

Kimberly completed her graduate studies at New York University and has advanced post-graduate psychotherapy training from NYU, psychodynamic psychotherapy training and advanced training to practice EMDR Therapy as well as specialized training in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), DBT therapy from Behavioral Tech, Mindfulness training and Integrative Therapy training from the Urban Zen foundation. In her work with couples, she applies her training from The Gottman Institute, Non-Violent Communication (NVC) the work of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT).

About PTSD Therapy

Posted on June 8, 2011

Bamboo Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurs in certain individuals who experience a traumatic event which may involve a threat of harm, danger, or death. PTSD sometimes occurs when a person witnesses an accident, natural disaster or other type of violence. Soldiers, for example, who experience combat sometimes develop PTSD. Other instances that might trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder include living in a combat area, experiencing physical or domestic abuse or rape, or surviving a life-threatening injury, illness, or natural disaster. Any event that causes fright, helplessness or terror can trigger PTSD. The resulting stress after such an event is an anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of PTSD include sleep problems, nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, or feelings of guilt, detachment or paranoia. Flashbacks are troubling, realistic memories of the traumatic event that create great distress for the sufferer. Some sufferers of PTSD may experience extreme anxiety that the traumatic event is recurring. Others may be unable to talk about the traumatic event or feel unable to express feelings or emotions with those unrelated to the tragedy. They feel very alone and isolated. Another symptom is extreme tension which can cause anger or irritability and manifest in the body. Other symptoms include having an unexplainable fear, becoming easily startled or experiencing difficulty with concentration. Many individuals report that they feel detached and disconnected as if they aren’t a part of their surroundings. This can feel troubling for PTSD sufferers. PTSD left untreated can impair a person’s ability to function on a daily basis, at work and in personal relationships.

Although the actual cause of PTSD is not determined, doctors believe that chemicals released during the tragic event alter the function of the brain in some form. Because not everyone who experiences a traumatic event develops PTSD, experts have determined that the disorder is more likely to occur in certain types of people. Those who are likely to develop PTSD might have additional mental health conditions, either personally or in their family, or may have experienced serious disturbances during childhood which has made them more vulnerable to developing PTSD.

Someone who experiences PTSD symptoms for over one month should seek help from a mental health professional or medical doctor. Interviews and questionnaires administered by a professional can help diagnose Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Counseling and drug therapy are effective forms of treatment. Relaxation and somatic therapies such as EMDR therapy and Somatic Experiencing are also helpful to some PTSD sufferers. EMDR therapy and Mindfulness is quite effective in reducing symptoms and is used and studied extensively in the Veteran population.

Organizations that provide additional information on PTSD include the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, National Alliance for Mental Illness, National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD Alliance and the David Lynch Foundation.

Kim Seelbrede is a psychotherapist, EMDR therapist and integrative therapist with a private practice in New York City. In her Manhattan therapy practice, Kim has experience addressing the following concerns: relationships, marital difficulties, divorce, parenting, career, professional performance enhancement, anxiety, panic disorder, OCD, depression, loss/grief, adolescent psychotherapy, underachievement, perfectionism, identity issues, LGBT, body image, eating disorders, addiction, substance abuse, sexuality, PTSD, trauma, stress reduction, transitions, life purpose, health concerns, women’s issues, therapy for men, pain management and wellness. Kim Seelbrede has advanced training in EMDR therapy and Brainspotting and uses it with clients who prefer to work in this way, or when she feels it is a technique that will be helpful for the client. Clients include CEOS, senior executives, entrepreneurs, financial analysts, performers and creative individuals with a focus on helping them identify and remove barriers to success and happiness. Kim Seelbrede offers adjunctive EMDR, meditation and yoga therapy to medical and mental health professionals in New York City. 

Kim holds a graduate degree from New York University (MSW) and received advanced post-graduate training inpsychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)  from New York University. Kim uses an eclectic approach which draws from attachment theory, object relations theory, self-psychology, ego-psychology, family systems, CBT, crisis counseling and solution-focused therapy with her clients as needed. Kim has pursued advanced education in the fields of psychology, wellness and complementary health care for nearly 10 years.  Kim draws from extensive education and life experiences including training from the Urban Zen Integrative Therapist Program (UZIT) during which she completed clinical rotations working directly with cancer and surgical patients at Hope Lodge and at Beth Israel Medical Center and has studied nutritional theories from leading experts in the field. Kim Seelbrede is an integrative healthcare blogger for the Urban Zen Foundation.