The recent presidential election, toxic rhetoric and divisiveness has activated or triggered many individuals who have unresolved trauma(s). As a Psychotherapist and trauma therapist with a private practice in New York City, I can share that many men and women have sought counseling to deal with trauma symptoms that have recently surfaced as a result of the accusations of sexual assault and boundary violations revealed during this recent election cycle. Clients state that they now feel empowered and sufficiently supported by others and the community at large to begin to tell their personal stories of rape, assault and inappropriate behaviors. Some have never shared their stories--not with trusted friends or even family members. For many, being in the presence of another, to receive their experience, help hold their fear and terror and help sort out confusion and reality can be extremely healing. Some who have suffered in silence will need more support. EMDR therapy is a therapy modality that can successfully heal these experiences from a neurological standpoint, as well as reduce the impact of painful memories, distorted self-concepts and further support healing the body.
Many patients seek EMDR therapy following slow progress with traditional psychotherapy or when they feel they have not benefitted from talk therapy, hypnosis or CBT. As a licensed psychotherapist in New York City, EMDR has become my technique of choice to treat a variety of concerns. After years of integrating it into my practice, I've experienced extraordinary success with this technique and feel honored to have witnessed healing, change and growth with my clients. Whether it's trauma(s) related to developmental and relational trauma, a dysfunctional childhood, an accident, addictions, alcoholism, eating disorders, performance problem, crippling anxiety, relationship betrayal, healing from an affair, negative thoughts and patterns or poor self-image, EMDR therapy is a powerful, short-term treatment that reduces distress, suffering and relieves symptoms.
As a clinician trained in traditional psychotherapy, I have great respect for the supportive nature of the therapy process. Therapy helps clients gain important insight and self-awareness as well as unearth feelings, conflicts and emotions that create obstacles to living a satisfying life. Additionally, the corrective emotional experience that occurs between therapist and client provides healing for those who have not experienced healthy relationships in the past. Psychotherapy also helps patients process minor and major traumas and provides the necessary processing and stabilization that individuals need so that they can begin to move forward with their lives. Many individuals leave psychotherapy feeling that the healing process is incomplete. We now know that talking about trauma is not the best solution for recovery. After years of psychotherapy, patients report that they still struggle to feel healed and well.
If negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors are still driving you today, EMDR therapy might provide you. In addition to trauma resolution, EMDR treatment can help you resolve negative feelings, emotions and beliefs about yourself that interfere with success and the quality of your life. What follows are some typical cognitions or beliefs that people struggle with even after years of counseling and psychotherapy:
- I'm not deserving
- I'm not lovable
- I'm not capable
- I'm not good enough
- It's not safe for me to be regulated and stable
- If I heal and move forward, I lose connection
- I always lose or get hurt
- Nothing works out for me
- It's my fault
Because some of these deeply-felt feelings and beliefs are rooted in the past, they are stored in certain parts of the brain and body. The nervous system has been impacted in ways that create disturbance in the here and now. It's common to be triggered and react to situations in the present that unconsciously remind you of past events. This is why people repeat and even continue to engage in negative patterns and relationships. The EMDR technique works in two important ways: it unlocks the negative emotions and feelings that have been stored in the nervous system, brain and body, and it helps the brain successfully reprocess experiences that have been trapped, frozen or repressed. As negative experiences and memories are processed, patients are guided to experience new self-concepts, knowledge and perspectives that allow for healing at the level of the nervous system and feelings of control and mastery.
I frequently integrate behavior and thought-challenging therapies such as CBT and skill building treatments such as DBT to help clients develop coping skills to use in life, in addition to EMDR processing. EMDR therapy helps moves individuals quickly from emotional distress to a peaceful resolution and understanding of the issues involved. In my experience, a combination of therapies skillfully integrated yields the best results for patients and can lead to lasting, successful treatment results.
EMDR therapy, and the many specific protocols can help resolve the following problems and issues:
- Negative thoughts, memories, feelings and emotions
- Distressing thoughts and images related to events
- Low self-esteem
- Addictions to drugs, alcohol and gambling
- Eating disorders
- Trauma and PTSD
- Fear of abandonment or being alone
- Feelings of guilt and shame
- Loss of a loved one
- Loss related to death, divorce, status, physical belongings
- Injury to a loved one
- Accidents and injury
- Medical diagnosis, illness, change of health status
- Natural disaster
- Assault and robbery
- Rape and sexual issues
- Witness to violence
- Victim of a crime
- Social anxiety, general anxiety, panic, phobias, obsessions, compulsions
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling isolated, misunderstood and alone
- Overwhelming fears and worry
- Depression and chronic sadness
- Childhood sexual, emotional physical abuse
- Stage fright and performance anxiety
- Anger and rage
- Acting out
- Attachment issues
- Childhood neglect
- Repeating negative patterns
- Insomnia, nightmares and sleep problems
- Relationship problems and interpersonal difficulties
To ensure client safety, only licensed mental health experts such as licensed psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists are qualified to receive EMDR training and use this technique in practice. These are the only mental health professionals qualified to use EMDR therapy with clients. To ensure patient safety, a clinical background is required, in addition to EMDR training and the requisite hours of professional supervision from an EMDRIA approved consultant. The EMDR Institute offers two levels of training: Level I (Introductory) and level II (advanced training). Many EMDR practitioners are also members of EMDRIA. Kimberly Seelbrede is a level II advanced-trained EMDR therapist and continues to receive additional training in the use of specific EMDR protocols for a range of applications.