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Nightmares, Intrusive Thoughts, Panic Attacks Oh My!

Dec 28, 2022

At times, I have clients reporting that although their present everyday life is overall healthy, they sometimes get weighed down by intrusive thoughts or flashbacks that immobilize them. This may look like a fear of going into a crowded grocery store or apprehension about a relative visiting because of past hurts.  I help my clients identify the stressors and build coping tools to manage them.  Sometimes I recommend EMDR, a powerful modality in psychotherapy, that is best suited for people who have experienced trauma or other negative events leaving a lasting impact on their mental health.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)  was developed in the 1980s by Francine Shapiro and has since become a widely-used and highly effective treatment for mental health issues. This type of psychotherapy has proven to aid in the often long, painful, emotionally-charged work involved in the treatment of depression and anxiety and improve overall mental health. EMDR can be a particularly helpful treatment for people who have difficulty processing or resolving past traumas and negative experiences.

The modality uses eye movements or other bilateral stimulation, such as tapping or auditory tones, to help the brain process and integrate traumatic memories. EMDR therapy is based on the idea that when the brain is able to process and resolve traumatic experiences, it can alleviate the negative symptoms that are often associated with those experiences, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Its methodology involves adaptive information processing which may help the brain release memories that have been stored incorrectly.  These “misfiled” memories may present in ourselves as symptoms such as nightmares, intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, and flashbacks.

There are several different ways to do EMDR, but the most common approach involves the use of eye movements or other types of bilateral stimulation to help people access and process difficult memories and emotions. This may involve the therapist guiding the client through a series of eye movements or using other forms of bilateral stimulation, such as tapping or auditory tones.  In my practice, I prefer to use tappers for bilateral stimulation and require my clients to make an office visit for this type of modality.

EMDRIA (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing International Association) is a professional association that provides training, certification, and support to therapists who use EMDR therapy in their practice. An EMDRIA certified therapist is a mental health professional who has received training and certification in EMDR therapy through EMDRIA. While EMDRIA certification is not required to practice EMDR therapy, it is considered a mark of professionalism and expertise in the field.  All of my training and supervision has been from EMDRIA-approved instructors.

Overall, EMDR is a highly effective, evidence-based treatment for a wide range of mental health issues and can be a powerful tool for helping people overcome trauma, anxiety, and other challenges. If you are in need of mental health support in the Jupiter/PBG and surrounding areas and are interested in exploring EMDR as a treatment option, please reach out to me.

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