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EMDR Therapy in Portland, Oregon

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a highly effective and well-researched therapy approach used to address the painful effects of trauma and a variety of other psychological issues.

"EMDR is the most revolutionary, important method to emerge in psychotherapy in decades."
- Herbert Fensterheim, Ph.D.
Cornell University

Part of what makes EMDR such a valuable therapy approach is its effectiveness at processing information, especially traumatic material.

When a disturbing or traumatic event occurs, the brain is often unable to process the experience as it normally would. Instead, the traumatic event can get stuck in the brain in the form that it was originally experienced. Current symptoms (e.g., anxiety, panic, low self-esteem, sadness, and fear) are often manifestations of unprocessed traumatic experiences. EMDR utilizes bilateral stimulation - either through eye movements or other forms of gentle, rhythmic stimulation - which activates both sides of the brain, to process past trauma.

"The speed at which change occurs during EMDR contradicts the traditional notion of time as essential for psychological healing."
- Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine

EMDR uses a comprehensive 8 phase treatment model that is effective at preparing a person for trauma work, as well as identifying and accessing traumatic memories that are at the root of one’s symptoms. When a relevant traumatic memory is identified, bilateral stimulation is used to activate the brain’s inherent information processing system to facilitate the “digestion” of unresolved trauma and promote healing. As information processes, it’s common for new learning to take place, cognitive insights to emerge, emotional distress to resolve, and healthy behavior changes to occur. Once past trauma is resolved, the focus of EMDR shifts to processing present disturbing situations and triggers. Next, skills that are necessary to meet future goals are developed.

“We believe that EMDR induces a fundamental change in brain circuitry similar to what happens in REM sleep — that allows the person undergoing treatment to more effectively process and incorporate traumatic memories into general association networks in the brain. This helps the individual integrate and understand the memories within the larger context of his or her life experience.”
- Robert Stickgold, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School

When the phrase “trauma” is used, it often brings to mind major events, such as a car accident, physical or sexual abuse, a violent attack, or a natural disaster. EMDR is very effective with these types of major traumas. Interestingly though, EMDR is also effective with more common events that have an enduring negative impact. For example, childhood humiliation or shaming; rejection or abandonment by a parent; family conflict; verbal or emotional abuse; or peer or school trauma.

"EMDR is a powerful new tool for relieving human suffering… One of the most significant advances since the introduction of psychopharmacological drugs."
- Steven Lazrove, M.D.
Yale University

EMDR has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma.

Twenty-four randomized controlled studies empirically validate the effectiveness of EMDR for treating emotional trauma and other types of adverse life experiences that are commonly addressed in counseling. EMDR is considered an evidence-based treatment for trauma-related stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms associated with PTSD. EMDR has been validated as an effective treatment for PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) by a number of organizations, including:

  • The American Psychiatric Association
  • The World Health Organization
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense
  • The International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices

EMDR has also received a high level of recommendation by the mental health departments of Israel, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, France, and Sweden. Additionally, SPECT scans, performed by Dr. Daniel Amen (2001), have been used to show beneficial treatment effects before and after EMDR with police officers who were suffering from PTSD.

“EMDR is one of the most powerful tools I’ve encountered for treating post-traumatic stress. In the hands of a competent and compassionate therapist, it gives people the means to heal themselves.”
- Steven Silver, PhD.
Director of the PTSD Unit, Veterans Admin. Medical Center, Coatesville, PA

Because trauma is at the heart of many psychological symptoms, clinicians have reported success using EMDR in the treatment of a wide range of conditions. Examples include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Complicated grief
  • Sexual and/or physical abuse
  • Disturbing memories
  • Phobias
  • Pain disorders
  • Stress reduction
  • Performance anxiety
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Addictions
  • Body dysmorphic disorders
  • Personality disorders

Both clinicians and patients have found EMDR to be a very valuable healing modality. In fact, over the past 25 years more than 70,000 clinicians worldwide have been trained in EMDR and over two million people of all ages have used EMDR to overcome a wide variety of psychological issues.

"EMDR is proving to be the silicon chip of psychotherapy; it allows people to process incredible amounts of material in a shockingly short time."
- Michael Elkin, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Collaborative Solutions

Another valuable aspect of the EMDR therapy process is its effectiveness with addressing negatively held beliefs about one’s self and the world. Beliefs are like mental programs - they have a strong influence over our thoughts, feelings, moods, behaviors, and relationship patterns. Often times, beliefs are unconscious, or out of our awareness, yet they still wield a very powerful influence. Common negative beliefs include: “I’m not good enough,” I’m unlovable,” and “I’m a failure.” As traumatic experiences reprocess, the negative beliefs that developed during those experiences dissolve. Another important component of the EMDR therapy process is that it strengthens updated, positive, more accurate beliefs, such as “I’m good enough,” I’m loveable,” or “I can succeed.”

“The FBI has found EMDR to be extremely effective when used on individuals exhibiting symptoms of posttraumatic stress, which can be tied to a specific traumatic event. The bottom line as I see it is that it works."
- Charles McCormick,
Unit Chief, FBI Administrator, Employee Assistance Program

EMDR is not only very effective for processing trauma and transforming negative beliefs, but also for enhancing skills and resources. Positive qualities, such as confidence, relaxation, focus, assertiveness, initiative, courage, determination, and motivation can be strengthened through the EMDR process. EMDR also combines very well with both Brainspotting and the Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS) for strengthening internal resources. Imaginal Nurturing is a very effective relational-based EMDR resourcing approach that is especially effective with attachment-oriented trauma.

EMDR can also be used to help improve the performance of a particular activity or skill-set. This approach to EMDR, known as "performance optimization,” is useful for developing and enhancing the capacity to perform in areas such as public speaking; various types of competition; or academic, athletic, work, and stage performance.

"Francine Shapiro's discovery of EMDR is one of the most important breakthroughs in the history of psychotherapy. Having used it as part of my practice for the past 15 years, I, and many of my patients, still marvel at the depth and speed with which it can help heal and change the minds and brains, and even bodily symptoms of people who have been locked in, and suffering from trauma, often for decades."
- Norman Doidge, M.D.
Author of The Brain That Changes Itself

I've dedicated a significant amount of time and attention through training and consultation to develop my EMDR skill set. I completed EMDR Parts I and II in 2004 and I'm an EMDR Certified Therapist. To date, I’ve performed thousands of EMDR sessions with my clients. I also provide EMDR related training services to other therapists: As an EMDR Approved Consultant, I enjoy providing individual and group consultation; I’m an EMDR Training Facilitator in Dr. Philip Manfield's EMDR Part I and II training for clinicians; and I teach an EMDR Refresher & Practice Course to current EMDR clinicians, here in Portland. Additionally, I have training in counseling approaches that complement the EMDR process, including Brainspotting, the Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy, Energy Psychology, and Imaginal Nurturing. If you’re interested in EMDR, feel free to contact me to discuss any questions you may have.

For more information about EMDR, please click the following links:

Healing Trauma

From the documentary film EMDR directed and produced by Michael Burns

For Counseling in Portland, feel free to call me today at (503) 887-3309, email me, or use my Contact Form to book a counseling session or to set up a FREE consultation.

Office located in NW Portland, Oregon. Serving the Portland metro area, including Beaverton, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Tigard, West Linn, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Tualatin, Gresham, and Vancouver, WA.

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