EMDR Therapy in Seattle, WA
Sometimes talk therapy isn't enough.
Some people who come to see us are struggling to cope with trauma. Whether that trauma occurred in their childhood or as an adult, it’s a serious situation and requires a specialized type of treatment.
One way that we are trained to treat trauma and abuse is by using EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing. This evidence-based therapy can help resolve painful life patterns by changing the way negative memories are stored in the brain and body.
Developed in the 1980s, EMDR has a history of treatment and extensive research and is currently used by over 70,000 practitioners worldwide. It typically works much faster and more deeply than traditional talk therapy. To date, EMDR therapy has helped literally millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.
How Does EMDR Therapy Work at our Seattle Office?
Some people find the name intimidating since it suggests that eye movements are necessary. In fact, they are not often used anymore. Others worry about what exactly is meant by “desensitization.”
Dr. Francine Shapiro, who first discovered EMDR, has actually been quoted as saying that she wishes that the approach had instead been named “reprocessing therapy,” since this is what is essentially occurring when healing takes place.
Based on what we now know about the human brain’s ability to change, grow, and heal itself (which is often referred to as neuroplasticity), it seems that EMDR sets up the brain to rewire or reprocess itself with updated, healthy beliefs.
In EMDR therapy, you and your therapist will determine which past experiences linger in your brain and body and produce unprocessed emotions like fear and guilt. Other problem-causing elements your therapist may find include body memory, which can present as muscle tension, panic, or a racing heartbeat, and false negative beliefs, such as “I’m in danger” or “What happened to me was my fault.”
Once those “targets” have been identified, your therapist helps by guiding you into a relaxed, mindful state (not hypnosis) and then uses guided imagery, free association, and your mind’s own healing power to process the unprocessed memory.
Your mind and body will move toward healing, primarily on their own, with the therapist guiding the process as needed.
What about Eye Movements?
You’ve probably heard of R.E.M. sleep – the stage of sleep during which rapid eye movement occurs. Have you ever wondered why that happens?
As your eyes move quickly back and forth, your brain is performing an incredible number of psychological functions. The easiest way to think of it is that the eye movement is stimulating both the left and right hemispheres of your brain. EMDR therapists refer to this as bilateral stimulation, and it’s nature’s way of enhancing, speeding up, and deepening the processes of our brain while we sleep.
EMDR emulates the process of R.E.M. sleep while you are awake.
In the past, when EMDR was first being developed, therapists would wave their hands back and forth and ask clients to track these movements with their eyes to create the eye movement. After many years of research (and shoulder surgeries for those poor, pioneering therapists!), we know that the eye movement isn’t necessary. We can produce bilateral stimulation with sensations.
When you come to Clarity Counseling and receive EMDR therapy, you’ll be asked to hold a small vibrating pulser in each hand, and this will produce the stimulation needed for your brain to process the unprocessed memories.
Does This All Sound a Bit Weird?
If it does, we get it. EMDR therapy can be hard to explain in a few paragraphs of text and is best understood by talking with a therapist about how it works and what EMDR therapy looks like. It isn't nearly as strange as it seems and can be thought of as a form of meditation or guided imagery.
EMDR is a valid and effective approach and can help people move past the traumas that have held them captive. Please give us a call at our Seattle-based counseling office in 98109 to speak with one of our therapists so we can help you determine whether you could benefit from this evidence-based therapy.
Lifespan Integration Therapy in Seattle
Lifespan Integration Therapy, or "LI", is a gentle, body-based therapeutic method that provides healing without re-traumatizing the patient. The body and mind have an innate ability to heal themselves, and LI taps into this healing process using body awareness, active imagination/visualization, and the creation of a visual timeline of one's life. Lifespan Integration is a cutting-edge therapy based on recent developments in neuroscience, is considered evidence-based, and has been practiced by therapists since 2004, with thousands of therapists around the world having been trained in this method.
Lifespan Integration helps us to reorganize the parts of our brain where problematic old “stuff” is stored, allowing us to make different choices in situations where we may have previously felt overwhelmed or frozen. Dan Fajans is the therapist in our Seattle practice who offers this approach to therapy as just one of the ways he can help. Though Dan is skilled in a number of therapeutic disciplines, he often recommends to his clients that they consider using this amazing tool in therapy because of how effective it is at helping clients create real, lasting change.
While everyone’s experience is unique, positive changes are typically experienced within just a few sessions, with longer-term treatment providing reinforcement and strengthening of these initial changes.
Who Can Lifespan Integration Help?
Lifespan Integration is especially helpful for people with difficult or traumatic experiences that they are struggling to get past, but it is also often helpful for people experiencing depression, anxiety, relationship problems, parenting difficulties, addiction, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and many other serious mental health problems. In other words, almost everyone who walks into a therapist's office. This is because unresolved emotions and inadequate resolution of some of our past experiences are so often at the heart of these issues. LI is a very effective way to address these underlying causes without requiring years of insight-oriented talk therapy that may not even get to the root of the issue.
How Do I Learn More?
What we have mentioned here is of course a very general description of the LI approach to therapy, so you may wish to read more about it on the official Lifespan Integration website.
There are many ways Dan helps his clients but if the Lifespan Integration approach appeals to you, you can schedule an initial appointment with Dan through our online calendar.