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EMDR Therapy

My credentials: Certified EMDR Therapist

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.

EMDR International Association
Public Awareness Film for EMDR Therapy

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.

Treatment Description:

EMDR therapy combines different elements to maximize treatment effects.  A full description of the theory, sequence of treatment, and research on protocols and active mechanisms can be found in F. Shapiro (2001) Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing:  Basic principles, protocols, and procedures (2nd edition) New York: Guilford Press.

EMDR therapy involves attention to three time periods:  the past, present, and future.  The focus is given to past disturbing memories and related events.  Also, it is given to current situations that cause distress, and to developing the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions.  With EMDR therapy, these items are addressed using an eight-phase treatment approach.

Tricia Kim Walsh shows us how to better understand ourselves in this poignant, personal talk. Her story of self-discovery will make you change the way you think about "connections". Discover the powerful therapy of EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing that can help people to heal from their traumas. Patricia “Tricia” Kim Walsh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Certified Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapist. She has successfully held a full private practice located in Pleasant Hill for the last 6 years, working with individual adults, tweens, teens, couples and families. Tricia also works full-time as a Mental Health Specialist with Crossover Health and provides individual therapy to full-time employees of a large silicon valley employer. Her clinical areas of specialty are PTSD/trauma, depression, anxiety, stress management, grief and loss, self-exploration and relational conflict.

EMDR - Tricia Walsh- TEDxUCDavisSF

She previously served as a faculty counselor and counseling outreach coordinator at the Student Health and Counseling Center of the California State University of East Bay for five years. During her time, she provided individual, couples and group therapy to the undergraduate and graduate students of CSUEB. Tricia received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis with a double major in Communication and Sociology of Law. She also holds a paralegal certificate and a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. When she is not in the therapy office, Tricia is spending time with husband and two cats, Loke & Mocha, and loves to travel, write, act, dance and sing. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx