Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has become a remarkable therapeutic tool used to assist survivors of traumatic incidents to recover the loss of self and personal functioning that frequently accompanies trauma. Studies demonstrate that by using EMDR as an adjunct to therapy, survivors can more quickly experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to accomplish. Developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, EMDR research is demonstrating that the mind is equipped to naturally heal from psychological trauma much in the same manner that the body is equipped to heal from physical trauma.
Theorists propose that when an emotional incident is too painful for an individual to consciously cope with, the resulting memory becomes "locked" in the mind. It is thought that all the emotions and cognition, as well as sensations associated with a traumatic event, become frozen within the subconscious. While an individual may make every effort to forget the event or to avoid thinking about it, even if for years, the effects of the traumatic incident may still be expressed through emotional and/or physical issues currently causing that client distress.
As a result, survivors of trauma frequently suffer from sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, unexplained anger, and dramatic mood swings, as well as, disturbances in their self perception, beliefs, relationships and physical well being. This combination of symptoms often makes the experience of living extremely distressful or painful. EMDR, as an adjunct to therapy, can offer incredible relief particularly to those clients for whom traditional talk therapy has proven to be less than successful.
EMDR is a non-evasive technique that involves the simulation of rapid eye movement (REM), which occurs naturally when we sleep, during wakefulness. This is accomplished by following the therapist’s fingers across the field of vision after an established protocol for treatment is generated.
It appears that there is a connection between rapid eye movements and a process by which our mind begins to naturally heal traumatic emotional material. It is an interesting fact that research has consistently demonstrated a corresponding decrease in an individual’s ability to enter into REM sleep after having experienced a traumatic event. This suggests that avoidance plays a part in preventing the individual from healing, and that the mind is equipped to do this naturally if allowed.
Some theorists believe that by stimulating this process during "wakefulness" the blocked material is activated and made available to an "inherent information processing system" within the brain. This mechanism is thought to be designed to digest highly charged emotional material and return the functioning of the mind to its natural state prior to the trauma.
On some occasions during an EMDR session, very strong emotional reactions may occur as the traumatic material is being re-processed. As your therapist, I will prepare you for this event, should it occur, and provide you with strategies that will allow you to continue to move towards a healthy recovery. It is important that you understand that EMDR is only conducted when the therapist has properly prepared the client, and when the client feels emotionally ready to do the hard work of healing.
Trained in the use of EMDR in 1994, I have assisted many clients as they have made profound recoveries and returned to living healthy lives after enduring incidences of abuse, rape, or life threatening traumas.
Two other exciting healing techniques for the management of trauma and strong emotion are Thought Field Therapy (TFT) and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Both of these techniques have roots in quantum physics, eastern medicine, and acupressure, and have been labeled "energy psycho therapies". I suspect that in the future EMDR, as well, will be found to work directly with the body’s energy systems. It is my belief that these techniques will revolutionize psychotherapy and medicine in the 21st Century, although it will require open-mindedness in a profession schooled in traditional thinking.
Developed predominantly by Dr. Roger Callahan, and later modified by Gary Craig, these techniques can often quickly and painlessly diagnose energy deficient meridian systems that are thought to become blocked by unresolved emotional material. These energy disturbances are thought to hold an "energetic imprint" of a traumatic event, or unresolved emotion, which will create specific emotional states when triggered. The memories are not thought to be stored in the brain but rather in the chi or "life energy" that flows in, around, and through the physical body. It is common for clients to report significant relief from depression, anxiety, long-standing phobias, compulsions, and traumas within minutes, or in just a few brief treatments. The removal of emotional blockages has also been shown to have a positive impact on the healing of the physical body. In many eastern therapies, all disease is thought to have an unresolved emotional component. This mind-body connection is being recognized today in western medicine as well.
TFT is an integrated, meridian-based, mind-body-energy psychotherapy, which includes diagnostic and treatment procedures performed while the client is attuned to their problem. In TFT, the negative emotions are alleviated through the gentle self-activation of designated acupressure points, which are said to neutralize or eliminate the energetic cause of the experienced emotional problem at its fundamental root.
Some clients may not be comfortable with the arm testing or "applied kinesiology" that is used when TFT diagnostics is recommended. However, applied kinesiology plays an intricate role in the causal diagnosis procedure of Thought Field Therapy. In this procedure muscle testing is utilized which provides information that is believed to tap the flow of chi energy in the body, rather than muscle strength itself.
This testing requires some physical contact between the therapist and client. The therapist will ask the client to extend his /her left arm horizontally to the side. The therapist will gently try to push the arm down while the client gently resists, thereby assessing the client’s energetic strength. At the same time the client will be instructed to touch each of the meridians sites with their own right hand until the arm cannot be pushed down. Once a strong arm response is achieved, the client is ready for treatment.
The client will then be asked to think of something upsetting which will usually cause the energy strength through the arm to deplete upon testing. The client will be instructed to touch various meridian sites while the therapist simultaneously pushes on the client’s arm again. The basic principle of causal diagnosis is that if the therapist pushes down on the client’s arm to find that it is initially weak while the client thinks of something upsetting, and then becomes strong when the client simultaneously touches a meridian sites, this reveals that this meridian sites is the correct point to be treated. Testing in this manner will reveal a sequence of points to be treated by tapping. Correct sequencing is crucial to the success of the thought field therapy. Through causal diagnosis a sequence of treatment sites becomes the diagnosed algorithm for treating a specific emotional state or trauma.
Through meditation and practice I have developed an ability to muscle test myself on behalf of the client eliminating the need for direct therapist-client contact in most cases with better result.
EFT, though similar, does not require muscle testing in order to be effective. The client and therapist work to construct an "intention statement" that incorporates the problem the client is experiencing with a statement of self-acceptance that energetically prepares the client’s system for change. The client then taps a series of acupressure sites, as directed by the therapist, while repeating a "reminder phrase" that helps the client remain attuned to the thought field. Occasionally, and only with the permission of the client, the therapist may tap for the client if tapping becomes too much of a distraction, or if the client is too upset while working through a strong emotion, to do the tapping for themselves.
A profound variation of EFT is called Matrix re-imprinting using EFT. (Please see information on Study Links Tab) which gets at core issues deep in the subconscious mind and energy field.
Reiki, is another healing art in which the reiki practitioner prepares him/herself to act as a channel to move ki, or the "universal life force" to the client through various hand positions. This energy is said to have divine consciousness, and thus once channeled to the client, automatically knows where it is needed and what must be done to correct problems in the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical bodies of the client. As a Reiki Master, I have incorporated some of these techniques with the others mentioned, particularly when resolving deep emotional and psychological pain.
If you have a computer, I would like suggest that you do some research on your own by directing you to the appropriate Internet sites. An informed client commands the greatest power to heal. As always, I will not allow any participation in any technique that you, as the client, are not fully informed of, or comfortable with.
It is important to remember that each client must define what is traumatic, and what treatments may be beneficial. We are all created with different abilities to manage emotional events, as well as, different sensitivities to the emotional experiences that we will encounter in the process of life. No one event is experienced as universally traumatic.
As a compliment to the acupuncture techniques offered at the Institute, the emergence of these energy psycho-therapy techniques offers significant support for the proposition that nature, or perhaps a higher power, has provided us with a means of correcting disabling emotional states of being. The reality may be that it has simply has taken us this long to observe them.
TFT (Thought Field Therapy) Resource Site
EMDR Resource Sites
EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)