The brain is a remarkable organ in which we perceive information, create understanding about others and the world around us, and develop a deep sense of Self. When we encounter an experience that feels adverse or stressful, our brain is designed to naturally adapt to and learn from this experience. However, there are times when our brain doesn’t adapt so well, and it gets stuck on negative, unhealthy, or unwanted thought patterns and behaviors.
For example, if a child is exposed to abuse at a young age (either by directly experiencing the abuse or witnessing violence between her parents), this child may feel extremely unsafe, helpless, or powerless at home. And, due to the absence of a safe caregiver in that situation, these intense feelings may cause the child to believe that her sense of safety and control will always be at risk or threatened: “Because no one was there to protect me in that awfully scary situation, I am unsafe and cannot trust anyone.” This core belief becomes the foundation in which all of this child’s future life events and relationships are evaluated and understood. This core belief will fuel unwanted symptoms and behaviors in her life; symptoms we often refer to as PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder).
This improper or maladaptive storage of memory drives these unpleasant sensations and symptoms and also interferes with our ability to be present, perceive the good things in our life, and successfully adapt over time. Many times, we feel that our past memories are very much alive in the present moment.
Your EMDR therapist will help you navigate the nuances between memories, cognitions, emotions, and sensations, reminding your brain how to soothe the body and how to create new meaning from these memories in order to heal. In just a few sessions, you can experience symptom relief while gaining internal distance from a painful memory so that the distress of this memory is no longer felt in the body.
It’s especially useful for those clients who have reached a plateau in therapy and who continue to manage chronic symptoms. The Associates at TIDE welcome the opportunity to collaborate with other providers by offering adjunct EMDR services to enhance a client’s therapeutic success.
Ongoing experiences become stored in the tree’s trunk. While these memories are in the past, they remain active in our life and heavily influence the growth of this tree. The branches of the tree represent our current life events and the leaves represent triggers. Our perception of these events and triggers is impacted by the roots’ messages. In EMDR therapy, we begin by addressing the early memories first and working linearly towards more recent experiences. Starting with the touchstone memories is like healing the roots of the tree. As the roots heal, they send the healing effects up through the trunk of the tree out to the branches and then the leaves. This healing will generalize into our thought patterns, emotions, and body sensations reducing overall discomfort and making present day triggers and events less distressful and more manageable.
Regan Springs, MSW, LCSW
EMDR therapy is the hallmark of psychotherapy services at TIDE. When you embark on the EMDR journey with us, you can expect several things to occur.
First and foremost, we will ensure that you are in a safe and stable place to proceed with this process. EMDR can be hard work, unpleasant at times, and even tiresome, so it is our responsibility to prepare and equip you for this.
If you are receiving mental health care by another provider, we will closely coordinate our services with that provider to optimize your wellness. Additionally, we provide lots of education about the EMDR process because we want you to understand and fully invest in the restorative impact of this therapy on the brain, the body, and the Self. Moreover, while EMDR therapy is an 8-phase modality that can be implemented in a technical and manualized format, our providers are exceptional at rendering this service in a fun, compassionate way that empowers you to take charge over your EMDR experience.
When you begin EMDR therapy, cognitive Resourcing is implemented in the early phases of EMDR for several reasons:
It gives you a chance to experience and understand the manualized mechanisms of this modality, particularly the use of bilateral stimulation.
It allows you to create new internal skills to self-soothe when you are distressed in preparation for the more challenging memory reprocessing in the later phases of EMDR. Enhanced Resourcing is the artful blend of multiple interventions and modalities, like containment, visualization, and ego states therapy, to strengthen a client’s ability to stay grounded, self-regulate, and cope intentionally with distress.
It allows your EMDR therapist to more adequately assess how you might respond to EMDR and strategically structure the direction of the work. The EMDR process can reveal things to us that are unknown, so Resourcing is a gentle way to discover some of these possibilities.
EMDR R-TEP, developed by Elan Shapiro and Brurit Laub, is an early intervention protocol which can reduce or prevent serious, lasting trauma symptoms by addressing a recent traumatic event with intentional containment and support. When traumatic events occur, our brain stores the information in a step-by-step sequence, like a movie reel. It is often too overwhelming to approach a traumatic event in its entirety.
R-TEP is designed to address the event in sequence, desensitizing each moment of impact rather than the whole memory at once.
As healing takes root in the sequences, there is a generalizing effect in which the overall distress of the memory is reduced and the memory feels more manageable to hold. Ultimately, each sequence and the memory as a whole will become desensitized and reprocessed until a client is able to recall the memory without having any distress.
One of the most common, yet often overlooked, symptoms of traumatic experience is dissociation- the disconnection or detachment from the present moment. We can experience dissociation across cognitive, emotional, behavioral, somatic, social, and even spiritual domains.
There is substantial research on the efficacy of EMDR therapy with addictions, which is a 2-fold process: utilizing EMDR techniques to address addictive impulses and behaviors as well as the underlying traumatic themes that fuel addictive cycles. We implement AJ Popky’s EMDR DeTUR protocol to desensitize the impact of triggering events, emotional reactions, and urges to use.
When the addiction is in remission, we shift to the standard EMDR protocol to target and resolve the deeper traumatic roots of addiction.
The use of EMDR in couples therapy includes enhanced resourcing, intermittent reprocessing sessions, and bilateral stimulation (BLS) training to address perpetual cycles of symptoms and conflicts within the relationship that stem from traumatic experiences. If each partner needs individually-focused therapy, they will receive referrals for additional care.
Enhanced resourcing for the couple will strengthen attachment, deepen connection, and increase safety for vulnerable and intimate interactions. When past or current adversities inhibit the relationship, EMDR reprocessing is used to reduce the harmful impact of these events and change the underlying negative cognitions that fuel unwanted behaviors and patterns. Moreover, couples will learn soothing and regulation techniques through self-administered BLS as a way to immediately decrease emotional reactivity during conflict.
Enhanced resourcing for the couple will strengthen attachment, deepen connection, and increase safety for vulnerable and intimate interactions.
In a traditional 60-minute appointment, clients often need to work on a chosen memory for multiple sessions that can span over a month’s time, so it may be preferable for some clients to optimize the efficiency of EMDR therapy by scheduling extended sessions that could last up to 4 hours in duration.
EMDR reprocessing sessions are most successful when there is enough time allotted to successfully resolve or complete the targeted memory from start to finish.
Marathon sessions include rest breaks and allow the client more space to fully work through uncharted material without the pressure of time. This is particularly useful for clients who have a high propensity for dissociating and require additional time for grounding and containing. Insurance coverage can be an obstacle, so these logistics are determined prior to scheduling this service.
Through the virtual video conferencing platform RemotEMDR, the Associates are just as effective at rendering EMDR therapy remotely as they are in office.
Clients do not need to download any application or program to access this service, and they are given a tutorial prior to use. Bilateral stimulation is administered via eye movements or sound based on the client’s preference and responsiveness.
We welcome referrals from other providers who want to continue their primary therapy with a client and also recognize the benefit of addressing traumatic underpinnings of pervasive and intrusive symptoms.
Quite often, clients need a dual focus from outpatient treatment: primary therapy to maintain relapse prevention strategies as well as supplemental EMDR therapy to attend to the deeper roots of symptoms. Common client referrals include: therapy plateaus, maintenance therapy with unaddressed trauma resolution, PTSD and dual diagnosis. The TIDE Associates value collaboration with other providers to achieve mutual goals and yield long-lasting success.
Quite often, clients need a dual focus from outpatient treatment.