Clarity Counseling Seattle

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): EMDR for Trauma & Abuse & Lifespan Integration Therapy

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Of course you have questions! This is a good thing – questions mean that you are invested in the process. We've collected some commonly asked questions here for you to look through:

EMDR for Trauma & Abuse & Lifespan Integration Therapy

Profile of man | Therapist WA SeattleWe don't typically incorporate the EMDR approach into couples work; however, our knowledge and training in EMDR absolutely informs and aids the work with couples in various ways. We have also done individual EMDR work with the partner present, which can be a profound experience for the observing partner to further empathize, understand, and connect with their husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend as both are present to witness past pain being transformed and healed.

EMDR Community

We are also well connected with the EMDR community in the Seattle area and can provide referrals for some wonderful EMDR therapists nearby who can do the individual EMDR work for a member of a couple currently working with Clarity Counseling Seattle.

Clock on desk | Seattle WA TherapyIt is nearly impossible to predict how long someone will need therapy, given any therapeutic approach. Still, it is very common for people to report benefits from body-focused therapies like EMDR that they never received from traditional talk therapy, even after years of approaching their problems in that way, and in much less time.

EMDR Therapy in Seattle

Therapeutic approaches like EMDR, along with mindfulness, are what we believe to be the most efficient, effective, and lasting ways to help people make the changes for which they are seeking therapy. 

Silhouette of man | Therapy Seattle WANo, during EMDR therapy you are simply guided into a relaxed, almost meditative state where you are fully aware of your surroundings and are completely present the entire time. In fact, being fully present is a necessary part of how working through your past occurs, while also not retraumatizing you as you connect with the memory networks of difficult past experiences.

EMDR Process

We are essentially helping you put one foot in the past experience while keeping the other in the present, working to connect the two so that the knowledge of your current status ("I got through it," "There's nothing wrong with me," "It wasn't my fault," and so forth) can positively impact the past negative experience we're helping you connect to, literally merging these two memory networks in a healthy way.

This dual awareness couldn't occur if you were put into some hypnotized or trance-like state. Instead, we are just starting sessions by helping you relax and notice your present experience (body sensations, emotions, and thoughts) so that you can incorporate your body and emotions into the process. 

Man in beanie | Therapist SeattleAbsolutely.

EMDR is a science-based psychotherapy. Leading mental health organizations worldwide have accepted treatment with EMDR for a variety of symptoms and conditions. EMDR has been practiced by nearly 70,000 therapists around the world for the past 25 years and is endorsed by multiple professional associations, including the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

EMDR Institute

Organizations like the EMDR Institute and the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) are organizations for researchers and practitioners who are dedicated to the highest standards of excellence and integrity in EMDR and are working to advance the education, practice, and science of EMDR. 

A Lifespan Integration session looks more like guided meditation or hypnotherapy than traditional talk therapy.  During your LI sessions your therapist will use one of several LI “protocols” to repeatedly walk you through a “movie” of your life. For example, if you are having difficult emotions many years after a traumatic event, your therapist might repeatedly walk you through memories of that event and other things that have happened since then to help “prove” to your nervous system that the event is over. In some cases, you might visualize going back in time to join with a younger version of yourself and re-imagine a different outcome to a traumatic memory. A good Lifespan Integration therapist will work in collaboration with you to determine what specific protocols will be most effective in bringing you relief from the issues you are seeking help with.

Lifespan Integration in Seattle

Traveling through time (in a sense) from the past memory scene to the present is usually repeated 3 - 8 times during a session. *Older clients and clients with more traumatic childhoods often require more repetitions of the LI protocol to clear the memories of trauma and to "re-write" the life script more accurately.

Each repetition of the timeline protocol shows the client a slightly different "moving picture show". For people who have trouble remembering their past, this approach to therapy can be extremely effective. During LI therapy, clients who began with gaps in their memory are eventually able to connect the pieces of their lives into a coherent whole.

Man thinking | Seattle WA CounselingEMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and is an evidence-based therapy that can help resolve painful life patterns by changing the way negative memories are stored in the brain. EMDR has a history of treatment and extensive research going back to the 1980s, is used by over 70,000 practitioners worldwide, and typically works much faster and more deeply than traditional talk therapy. 

Millions of people of all ages have relieved many types of psychological stress with the assistance of EMDR therapy.

The name can be misleading, or even intimidating, as it suggests that eye movements are necessary, although they are not often used anymore (more on this in a moment). And what is meant by "desensitization" anyway?

History of EMDR

The researcher who discovered this in the late 1980s, Dr. Francine Shapiro, has been quoted as saying that she wishes the approach had simply been named "reprocessing therapy" as this is essentially what is occurring when people heal using this therapy. Based on what we now know about the human brain's ability to change, grow, and heal itself (often referred to as neuroplasticity), it seems that EMDR sets up the brain to be able to rewire, or reprocess, itself with updated, healthy beliefs. 

This is accomplished by determining which past experiences are still lingering in a person's brain and body that contain unprocessed emotions (fear and guilt, for example), body memory (muscle tension, panic response, racing heartbeat), and false negative beliefs ("I'm in danger," "It's my fault", and so forth). Once we have a list of those experiences, or "targets," we help the client connect to those targeted memory networks by guiding them into a relaxed, mindful state (relaxed, not hypnotized). Once they have accessed the troublesome memory network, we then help the client use guided imagery, free association, and the healing power of their own mind to "process" the unprocessed memory.

Our minds and bodies move toward healing and will begin doing this primarily on their own, with the aid of the therapist to guide the process as needed. 

EMDR Therapy in Seattle, WA

EMDR is an optional way for some people to work on certain issues. It isn't at all a requirement, and may not even be appropriate for your needs. Plus the manner in which we work together is always an agreed-upon collaboration with client and therapist. Our therapists are skilled in many forms of individual therapy, with EMDR being just one of them.

Lifespan Integration at Clarity Counseling Seattle

The Lifespan Integration technique relies on the innate ability of the body-mind to heal itself. Lifespan Integration uses a psychological technique called an "affect bridge" to find a memory that is connected to the current challenge the client is experiencing. The therapist guides the client to re-visit in their imagination a past memory, bringing into the past whatever is needed to resolve the memory. After the memory is resolved, the therapist leads the client through time to the present using a time line of visual images of scenes from the client's life. This time line of memories and images essentially proves to the client's body-mind system that time has passed and that life is different now, by way of the neural connections that are created within the brain and central nervous system. Very much like what happens in EMDR treatment, this "proof" occurs at a deeper level than is possible with commonly used talk therapy methods.

Earlier memories and experiences influence how the brain and nervous system respond to present-day events. By effectively integrating past experiences, we can break free of stuck emotions, feelings, and behaviors that result from trauma and other emotional scars. A skilled LI therapist can provide a predictable and safe framework to do the work of integrating the past in order to free us in the present.

woman on cellphoneMany people doing EMDR therapy do not have a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress.

EMDR Therapy for More Than Just PTSD

Though originally developed for treatment of PTSD, over 25 years of research, usage, and adaptation by tens of thousands of EMDR therapists have led to its application with a large number of issues, including depression, anxiety, phobias, unhealthy relationship patterns, abandonment issues, low self-esteem, inhibited performance, grief, insomnia, panic, and procrastination. I am able to effectively utilize this approach with nearly all of my clients, most of whom do not qualify as having post-traumatic stress.

Remember that trauma actually has a very broad definition and can be caused by anything from a critical parent to a bad breakup to an embarrassing moment as a child.

Man writing in journal | Therapist Seattle WATalking uses your left-brain functions that are based on logic and reason. We can know logically that, say, something that occurred in the past was long ago; however, our right-brain processes and our bodies are where our traumas are held.

Past Negative Experiences

Remnants of past negative experiences that continue to cause us distress in the present are held in our nervous systems, not in our left-brain logic. We frequently hear statements like "I know this shouldn't still bother me... but it does," or "I know I don't need to feel this way anymore... but I still do." It is your left brain that is making the first part of that statement and your right brain and body following the "but," which will win out over your left-brain logic most times.

Work on Lasting Change

We can't just talk our way into lasting change when it comes to emotions, body, and beliefs. We have to get to where this problematic material is actually held within our system, which must be by way of emotions and body awareness, not spoken words. 

Interested in pursuing the EMDR approach to therapy? Please reach out!

Person holding compass in the mountains | Lifespan Integration Seattle WAOften we come to therapy because we are doing, thinking, feeling, or saying things we know don’t quite make sense to us: “Why am I still scared all these years later?” “I don’t know why I get so mad – it just happens.” “I keep on lying to her and I don’t understand why?”

Lifespan Integration Therapy in Seattle, WA

If you could just talk or think your way out of these challenges, you would! Lifespan Integration is especially helpful with these kinds of stuck thoughts, emotions, and behavior that feel beyond your logical control.

By building a more integrated self, you become more able to engage your life using all of your present-day capacity rather than a more limited, automatic, younger response. LI is structured in a way that allows this to happen more quickly than many other approaches to therapy.

To learn more or schedule an appointment for lifespan integration therapy in 98109, reach out to Clarity Counseling Seattle today!

Silhouette of man | Seattle WA TherapistNo, and it is very common for people in today's thought-focused and hurried world to be up in their heads through much of their lives.

Mindfulness Important to EMDR Therapy

It is definitely necessary for you to be able to notice body sensations and emotional experience while in session, but learning to do so is part of the process and there are many ways of helping folks begin to connect with their bodies and emotions so that EMDR can work. This is partly where the mindfulness piece comes in, with clients learning how to allow for their thoughts, feelings, and body sensations to communicate with each other, which is how our systems are meant to function. 

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