Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
What is Trauma?
Many people are perplexed by the effects of trauma and wonder how traumatic incidences can have such long lasting and devastating effects on one’s life. Trauma can be any experience that leaves one with significant negative emotions. I have had many clients come to me and say “I have not been in combat or sexually assaulted, so I don’t have any trauma”. However, trauma is not always that easy to identify, it can be things such as; public ridicule, critical put downs by parents, real or imagined abandonment or any form of emotional abuse. From my perspective, if your 3rd grade teacher called you stupid and you formed a negative belief about yourself that you carried throughout your life, that is an example of a traumatic incident. Trauma changes the way we feel about ourselves, our beliefs and our perspective on the world.
Why are Traumatic Memories Different?
What makes traumatic memories so tricky, is that they are stored differently than other memories. Most of the time, our body manages new information without being aware of it. However, when something traumatic occurs, our natural coping mechanism can be overloaded. This may be from a overwhelming event (such as a car accident) or from repeated distress (such as childhood neglect), these events are so surprising and unnatural that our prefrontal cortex falls offline and we are not able to cognitively process through them. This overloading can result in disturbing experiences remaining frozen in our brain (unprocessed). In turn, these unprocessed memories and feelings are stored in the limbic system, of your brain, in a “raw” and emotional form, rather than in a verbal “story” form. When these memories are stored in the raw, emotional form, it is more difficult to think about them in a cognitive, rational manner. In turn, we fill in the blanks and form irrational beliefs about ourselves or the world that become associated with that memory.
Often, the memory itself is long forgotten, but the painful feelings such as anxiety, panic, anger or despair are continually triggered in the present. Our ability to live in the present, have healthy relationships and learn from new experiences can therefore be inhibited. We want to be able to address these traumatic incidences and reprocess through them so that we are able to feel fully and think rationally.
How do you Treat Trauma?
There are several ways to address trauma, I use a variety of methodologies; CBT for trauma, shame resiliency, post traumatic growth techniques and the most evidenced based trauma treatment out there, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). No matter which methodology I am using, I follow the framework of the IATP Three Pronged Approach. This approach begins with the first step of safety and stabilization. We always ensure that the client is able to ground themselves and is armed with emotional regulation skills before we begin to open up the traumatic memories. The second step of treatment is the narrative (or desensitization), this is where we process through the trauma, in the method that seems most appropriate for each client. Finally, the reconnection and moving forward phase, in which we help the client to create future templates and develop trauma resiliency.
What is EMDR?
EMDR is an 8 phase approach to psychotherapy that is internationally recognized as an empirically supported treatment. This treatment modality requires significant training and practice to ensure the fidelity and safety of the process. Scientific research has shown the EMDR is effective not only for trauma, but has been shown to be successful in helping clients deal with the following issues as well:
- Addictive Behaviors
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Anxiety and Panic Attacks
- Eating Disorders
- Loss and Grief
- Emotional Eating
- Stress Management
- Performance Enhancement: (Athletic/academic/musical/professional/general)
- Procrastination/avoidance behaviors
- Self-esteem improvement
- Emotional eating
EMDR is a research based therapy with over 20 years of scientific validation. The practice guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and the Department of Veterans Affairs and Defense (2004) have placed EMDR in the highes category of effectiveness. You can read more specific research citation and information at www.emdr.com, www.emdria.org, and www.traumacenter.org.
What is an EMDR Session like?
EMDR utilizes the natural healing ability of your body. After a thorough assessment and sufficient resourcing (grounding skills, building safety, stability and trust), you will be asked specific questions about a particular disturbing memory. We will discuss particular beliefs that may have arose surrounding that memory and what feelings and emotions come up surrounding the memory. Eye movements, similar to those during REM sleep will be recreated simply by asking you to watch my fingers moving backwards and forwards across your visual field. The eye movements will last for a short while and then stop. You will then be asked to report back to me what your experienced during these eye movements. Sometimes, clients will report different perspectives, bodily sensations, feelings or new thoughts/details about the memory. Experiences differ for everyone but often include changes in thoughts, beliefs, images and feelings.
With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of a event in the past that does not have the same “charge” or “triggering” feelings associated with it. Its important to know that EMDR does not facilitate clients in forgetting painful memories, you will remember the event, the hope is that is will not have the same emotional intensity or physiological symptoms that it may have previously been associated with the memory. An added bonus is that other memories that may have attributed to the same negative belief (such as: I’m not good enough or I’m a bad person) may also heal as well. This linking of related memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.
The last part of EMDR is installing future templates. This will help you to deal more effectively with difficult events in the future. We cannot always protect ourselves from these types of traumatic incidences, but we can work on improving our resiliency and ability to move forward in a healthy way. EMDR facilitates deep and lasting change, it creates a re-wiring that allows your mind-body-spirit to strengthen and heal
- What are my mental health benefits?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
- How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
At this time, I do not accept insurance. However, I am able to provide you with a superbill to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. Asking the above questions will give you an idea of what they will reimburse.