Specialty Areas: EMDR

I have been doing EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) since 1990, using it occasionally with those clients who are interested, and for whom I think it might be helpful. It is just one therapeutic tool, but I find it can be a very effective and powerful one.

EMDR was originally designed to treat acute trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The idea is that everything about how a trauma is initially experienced—the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, thoughts, feelings, associations, attributions, everything—can get disconnected from the wider web or network of information and memory processing, and locked into a "bundle" that we cannot willfully connect to or access, while still holding the charge and intensity of the original experience.

An associated experience later on can trigger an involuntary connection to this bundle of material, stimulating a re-experiencing of the original trauma (in the form of an intrusive, painful, or overwhelming memory, image, or flashback, for example) in a way that can make it hard in the moment to separate "then" from "now," such that it can feel as if this present experience holds the same danger as the original traumatic event. For example, a war veteran can be walking down the street, hear a car back-fire, and hit the deck, feeling in that moment the same fear and danger of an earlier war trauma.

What EMDR can often do is metaphorically re-connect the neural pathways, giving us access to that bundle of information so we can begin to bring our resources to bear on it, break it down, desensitize ourselves to it, and then re-integrate and reprocess it in a healthier way.

Similarly, EMDR can be used to treat deeply internalized negative core beliefs, which are the negative messages we often learn about ourselves during critical formative periods growing up. These negative views of ourselves can be stuck and very resistant to change, similar to the bundle of traumatized memory and information processing that can result from trauma. As adults, we might rationally understand that these stories are not true, but they can still feel true.

Again, EMDR can help us bring our resources to bear on these deeply internalized negative core beliefs in a way that helps us get perspective, de-sensitize, and re-process in a healthier way. You can read more about EMDR at the following sites:


Please also feel free to contact me to learn more about how I use EMDR.