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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 therapy 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 cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes. More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy. 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 therapy 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 World Health Organization and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR therapy 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 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy. Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years. EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment. Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used during one part of the session. After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, he asks the client to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision. As this happens, for reasons believed by a Harvard researcher to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, internal associations arise and the clients begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level. For instance, a rape victim shifts from feeling horror and self-disgust to holding the firm belief that, “I survived it and I am strong.” Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy 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—all without speaking in detail or doing homework used in other therapies.
After 20 years of recurrent dreams and panic stricken moments all filled with depression and anxiety, I have finally found relief through my EMDR sessions. I had previously been to many other counselors which had gone nowhere, I decided to try therapy with Leilani. I chose her because she has extensive knowledge and experience with EMDR. Through my EMDR sessions we were able to free me of the horrid pain I had embedded in me for decades. Most importantly, I am without that sickening feeling inside when an old memory, fear, or thought flashes through me. EMDR and Leilani changed my life! Jaime
Depression and anxiety had been my constant unwanted companions since my teens. Despite antidepressant medications and several attempts at working with counselors, I still felt weighed down and unable to enjoy life. A few years ago, I started noticing myself spiraling down even further. By chance, I came across an article about EMDR for childhood trauma, and at the urging of my family I looked for a therapist who was trained in this type of therapy. I was so fortunate to locate Leilani! When I started working with her, her first concern was to help me get stabilized to the point of being ready to embark on the EMDR journey. Once we started EMDR, she was always very attuned and sensitive to the pacing of our work together, and to how far we should go during a particular session. Along with the EMDR, Leilani also taught me several other techniques to help me improve my day-to-day functioning and to overcome counterproductive habits that I had developed over the years. It is always obvious how much Leilani cares about her patient’s overall wellness. Over time, I started noticing incredible improvements in my thought patterns and processes. I now can happily report that the negative, destructive, recurrent thoughts that had plagued me since childhood have virtually disappeared, my sleep has vastly improved, my marriage is much healthier. Best of all, I can truly say for the first time since I was a young kid that, instead of a mindset of self-hatred, I actually like the person that I am. I honestly never imagined that this would ever be possible! I feel so very fortunate and grateful that I found such a talented and dedicated therapist in Leilani . She has been a gift and a blessing to my existence. Deborah
EMDR is different from any other type of counseling I’ve done in the past. EMDR works! I was skeptical at first, but I was willing to give it a try. EMDR helped me process traumatic events that have shaped my life. It now feels like I have finally dealt with these events on all levels-body, mind, and emotion. I feel like the past burdens have been lifted. I feel more calm and positive about moving forward with my life and my goals/dreams as well as making choices that are healthy for me when challenging or stressful situations arise. Susan T
The work I have done with Leilani has helped tremendously with my panic and anxiety. It has been hard work but it truly has helped me feel like myself again. I now respond to things more appropriately without the anxiety taking over. Christina
MYTH: Only people with mental illness benefit from therapy. TRUTH: Mental health counseling is based in developing a relationship where you can feel safe to share your emotional experiences and life challenges. Many people seek out a therapist because they are struggling with stress,changes in life, or relationships. These are not necessarily issues of mental illness, and yet therapy can be extremely beneficial in providing essential support and a space to be heard without judgement. Often, we are concerned about “burdening” our friends and family members with our day to day stresses and worries. Working with a therapist allows you to share the weight of life with another person who is equipped to carry the load with you and help you figure out how to navigate life in a more manageable way.
MYTH: I don’t need a therapist if I’ve got friends and family. TRUTH: Some people suggest that working with a therapist is like hiring a friend, and why would you do that if you already have friends? A therapist is there to support you like a friend or family member might, but they are also highly skilled in guiding you in progressing toward your goals, improving your quality of life and growing as a person. Unlike the other people you may have in your life, a therapist provides unbiased and non-judgmental feedback. A therapist is solely concerned with what’s in your best interest.They will not give you advice or tell you what to do, which is what our friends often do, sometimes leading you to feel conflicted if you don’t agree with their suggestions. A therapist does not judge you for the choices you make and cares about you unconditionally. They also carry hope for you when you can’t see it for yourself.
MYTH: If I start therapy now, I will be going for years to come.TRUTH: When you start and end with your therapist is your choice. It is your therapist’s job to be guided by your goals for therapy and to follow your lead, while also challenging you a bit and pushing you out of your comfort zone once in a while in order to help you grow. Most people spend a few months working with their therapist intensely to resolve the immediate issues that brought you in initially. After that, you will have likely formed a great relationship with your therapist, so you might take a break or drop down to only checking in once every couple of months. The great part about having established this relationship is that you can always return at any time if things come up in life that are difficult.
MYTH: A therapist gets paid to care about me, but I am sure I’d just be another number to her. TRUTH: Therapists get into this work because they are deeply passionate about working with people in a meaningful and impactful way. Therapists are generally very empathic and compassionate people who genuinely care about and like their clients. Therapists do think about their clients outside of session because they truly matter to them. Many therapists spend much time when not with clients learning more ways to help, researching resources, consulting with other therapists about how to be most effective, and hoping that their clients are doing well in between sessions and after they have stopped coming to sessions. Our clients leave lasting impressions on our lives, too.
MYTH: I had a bad experience with therapy in the past, so clearly it isn’t for me. TRUTH: Finding the right therapist is like trying on shoes. Some might look great on the rack, but when you try them on, they pinch your toes, or just don’t fit quite right. Because the success of therapy is largely dependent upon a good relationship, it is essential to find a therapist with whom you feel like you “click” well. You’ll need to actually like your therapist if you’re going to building a trusting relationship and share details about your life that you might not have ever shared with anyone else. So, if you’ve tried therapy before and it did not work out, it left a bad taste in your mouth, or you did not find it helpful, give it another chance before you write all of us therapists off! Just like with people you meet in other parts of your life, you are not going to get along with everyone, and that’s ok. The right therapist for you is out there, it just might take a few tries before you find someone you feel like “gets” you and with whom you can relate. Therapy provides a sense of belonging, and in order to experience that benefit, you’ll need to find a therapist you like and by whom you feel accepted