HEAL WITH EMDR IN OAKLAND
Matthew Matt Lindgren is an Oakland EMDR therapist counselor coach who helps people with EMDR therapy, counseling, and coaching.
WHAT IS EMDR?
"EMDR" stands for "Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing" ~ a revolutionary technique for dealing with trauma that can include moving one's eyes while concentrating on memories or sensations. It allows you to experience and work through traumatic memories in fast and powerful ways that allow you to heal.
EMDR is one of the most effective therapies for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a disorder that commonly affects combat veterans, torture victims, as well as victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. EMDR treatment is often, though not always, short term. Treatment often lasts no longer than twelve sessions, sometimes less. Some people will need longer treatment.
HOW IS EMDR DIFFERENT?
An EMDR session is a bit different than traditional "talk therapy". One key difference is the idea of "dual awareness", or the ability to keep your attention in both the present and the past at the same time. As one remains securely in the "here and now", you can safely go back into the past and deal with events in a way that allows you to work through them in a deeper and more profound way.
At times during EMDR, you may be asked to follow moving objects with your eyes, or to feel sensations in your body, or even to listen to sounds. This is called "bilateral stimulation", and it is central to the way EMDR helps people be aware for both the present moment and the past at the same time.
Philip Manfield came up with a wonderful way to describe how EMDR works, which I call the "island metaphor":
When a person experiences a traumatic event, it is very common to isolate that event within your mind, as a way of protecting yourself from feelings that can be very frightening and overwhelming. This event becomes like an island within your mind, and you cut off all roads leading from that island to the mainland, so that the island becomes isolated in space and time. The culture and traditions of the people who live on the island are lost in time, as the rest of world moves on. For some people, this island might be a quaint place, like visiting some kind of Quaker colony that uses only horses or bicycles for transportation, but more often than not the island is a terrifying place, more like a Jurassic Park, filled with monsters and demons.
The problem is that the island is never really all that isolated. From time to time, people from the mainland wander onto the island, and have no idea how to escape or handle the monsters who live there. We get stuck in compulsive behaviors. We repeat destructive relationships. Overwhelming emotions interrupt our lives and dreams, causing panic, fear, anger, or sadness. People from the island also wander into the mainland, where they can appear like cavemen, bizarre and illiterate, unable to function in the adult world, unable to work, have intimate relationships, or communicate with others.
EMDR allows us to carefully rebuild bridges and phone lines to the island so that the skill and perspective of our adult selves can help manage and tame the monsters that were overwhelming to us at the time we experienced the trauma. We recognize that we are now safe and able to take care of ourselves in ways that we were not in the past. As we integrate the island with mainland, we often find hidden treasures - valuable insights, abilities, and gifts - that have been waiting for us to develop, among the culture of the people who inhabit the island. In a world without monsters, we become able to experience more of who we are with love and joy.
DOES EMDR WORK?
While it is not possible to say that any form of psychotherapy will conclusively work for all people, there is ample research documenting the efficacy of EMDR as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety related disorders.
The following organizations, which value evidence-based treatments, support the use of EMDR (from EMDRnetwork.org):
- The Department of Veterans Affairs & Department of Defense Practice Guideline lists EMDR as an "A" category as "highly recommended" for the treatment of trauma.
- The American Psychiatric Association and the mental health departments of Israel, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Sweden and other countries give EMDR a high level of recommendation.
- The National Institute of Mental Health sponsors a Web site that lists EMDR as effective and backed by research. Check under "Adult MH Therapist for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder."
MATTHEW MATT LINDGREN OFFERS EMDR THERAPY IN OAKLAND
Matthew Matt Lindgren has helped hundreds of people heal from traumatic events with EMDR since 2005. He is a California licensed marriage and family therapist.