EMDR Therapy

Dr. Crystal Hollenbeck is a Certified EMDR Therapist.  In addition to the Basic Training, she completed the two year certification process.  Dr. Hollenbeck has found EMDR to be extremely beneficial to her clients.  She is a strong advocate for EMDR Therapy and recommends you always check your therapist’s training and certification status before receiving EMDR therapy.  

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and is effective in treating multiple emotional disturbances successfully in a shorter amount of time than other traditional therapies.

EMDR is a psychotherapy technique that uses bi-lateral stimulation in the form of right/left eye movements or tactile stimulation to help the brain release emotional experiences that are “trapped” in the nervous system and allows the maladaptive memories to be processed. EMDR is believed to have a “quieting” effect on the limbic system allowing the reasoning part of the brain to have access to material that would have been previously “frozen” through traumatic experiences.

This technique allows a person to resolve the trauma and achieve a positive adaptive resolution to an experience or event by processing thoughts and emotions together at the same time.

General Overview of EMDR Therapy:

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can causes intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.

Twenty positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR.  Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.  Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 70,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy.  Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 20 years.

EMDR is effective in treating multiple issues:

Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for post traumatic stress. However, clinicians also have reported success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions:

Grief & Loss / Death of a Loved One including beloved Pets / Witnessing Death
Physical & Emotional Injuries from Car & Work Related Accidents
PTSD: Victim or Witness of Violent Crimes / Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms
Test Anxiety / Relational Anxiety / Performance Anxiety
Anxiety: Trouble Sleeping / Worrying & Fears / Social Phobias / Panic Attacks
Abuse: Physical, Emotional, Verbal & Sexual Abuse / Rape Survivor
Trauma: Natural Disasters / Fire / Childhood Trauma & Abuse
Depression: Anger / Sadness / Low Self-Esteem
Eating Disorders / Addictions / Obsessive Thought Patterns
Stress Reduction / Disturbing Memories

Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes.  The net effect is that clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that once debased them.  Their wounds have not just closed, they have transformed. As a natural outcome of the EMDR therapeutic process, the clients’ thoughts, feelings and behavior are all robust indicators of emotional health and resolution.

Origin of EMDR Therapy:

In 1987, psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts, under certain conditions. Dr. Shapiro studied this effect scientifically, and in a 1989 issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress, she reported success using EMDR to treat victims of trauma. Since then, EMDR has developed and evolved through the contributions of therapists and researchers all over the world. Today, EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.

How does EMDR work?

No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes “frozen in time,” and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.

How long does EMDR take to experience results?

One or more sessions are required for the therapist to understand the nature of the problem and to decide whether EMDR is an appropriate treatment. The therapist will also discuss EMDR more fully and provide an opportunity to answer questions about the method. Once therapist and client have agreed that EMDR is appropriate for a specific problem, the actual EMDR therapy may begin.

A typical EMDR session lasts from 60 to 90 minutes. The type of problem, life circumstances, and the amount of previous trauma will determine how many treatment sessions are necessary. EMDR may be used within a standard “talking” therapy, as an adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist, or as a treatment all by itself.

Research:

Approximately 20 controlled studies have investigated the effects of EMDR. These studies have consistently found that EMDR effectively decreases/eliminates the symptoms of post traumatic stress for the majority of clients. Clients often report improvement in other associated symptoms such as anxiety. The current treatment guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies designate EMDR as an effective treatment for post traumatic stress. EMDR was also found effective by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, and many other international health and governmental agencies. Research has also shown that EMDR can be an efficient and rapid treatment. For further references, a bibliography of research may be found through EMDR International Association’s web site, www.emdria.org.

If you would like more information about EMDR, please feel free to call or email Crystal as she would be happy to answer any of your questions.

View Dr. Crystal Hollenbeck’s EMDR Profile