Kathryn A. Kelley, M.A., NCC, LCPC
Post Office Box 7117 fax: (406) 227-6790 Helena, Montana 59604-7117
What is EMDR and how does Kathryn integrate it into
“The aim of EMDR treatment is to achieve the most
profound and comprehensive treatment effects in the
shortest period of time.”
- from the EMDR International Association’s Definition of EMDR
A study comparing the effectiveness of Prozac vs. EMDR showed that EMDR was more successful than Prozac in achieving substantial and sustained reductions in anxiety and depression. - The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, January, 2007
“The speed at which change occurs during EMDR contradicts the traditional notion of time as essential for psychological healing. EMDR has integrated elements from many different schools of psychotherapy into its protocols, making EMDR applicable to a variety of clinical populations.”
- Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD, Boston University School of Medicine
“EMDR is a significant component of treatment at the Menninger Clinic.”
- Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic
Dear client: At this stage in my work, I am selective with my clients. If we both work diligently, I have every expectation that you will enjoy living life with greater clarity and a renewed sense of purpose in as short a time as possible. If you and I have decided to work together, I will dedicate my time, energy, expertise and knowledge to helping you achieve your therapeutic goals.
You will tell me what you wish to accomplish during our work together. My goal
is to help you achieve the results you want as quickly, easily, and safely as possible, and to make sure that those results are permanent. The treatment methods I use integrate the most recent developments in neuroscience with the most researched psychotherapy techniques available within a comfortable and safe environment.
In the past, psychotherapy was a “trial and error” process. We had no lab work,
no x-rays or other measures with which to identify a cause of the unwanted symptoms (unwanted feelings, behaviors, and/or thought processes). We now have the expertise and tools to pinpoint exactly what is causing your symptoms so that we can create an individualized treatment plan that will be as fast and effective for you as possible.
All patterns, (activity patterns, thinking patterns, emotional patterns, behavior
patterns, communication patterns, relationship patterns) both the ones we enjoy and those we would like to change, are generally the result of an accumulation of experiences stored in the brain and nervous system of the body. Most of the negative “patterns” individuals want to change have been caused by one of two things (sometimes both). The first is imprinting. From before the time we are born, we start developing very rapidly and how we develop is shaped by everything being pulled through the five senses. This creates an “imprint” on development which becomes the conditioned way we naturally tend to think, feel and act. So early experiences, especially experiences with caregivers and others close, have important influence on personality development.
The second major shaping influence for these patterns is “stress”. Any time we
are under stress, the body/mind triggers certain glands to produce large amounts of hormones we call “stress hormones”, like adrenaline and cortisol. During these periods of stress, the brain does not process the information coming in through the five senses in the normal way. This leads to a chain reaction of effects in the nervous system. It is similar to “undigested” sensory data that creates “blockages” in the nervous system, alterations to pathways within the nervous system and alterations to brain chemistry where your neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, chetacholamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, etc.) get out of balance.
The build up of the effects of this “stress response” in the body, brain and nervous
system, we believe, is the culprit behind most of the emotional difficulties that people experience. Basically, a point is reached where certain things are triggering a pattern of neurological impulses in the body to fire off over and over again. The most challenging
thing is that over time all these patterns get stronger and stronger, like working out a muscle, the more a muscle gets worked, the stronger it gets.
Drugs are an option, but they come with some clear disadvantages. The biggest
one being simply that the body does not restore its own ability to self-regulate brain chemistry and ability to self-comfort.
EMDR, interwoven with other well-researched therapy techniques, is the best
treatment modality I’ve found for changing emotional reactions, negative thought patterns, entrenched habits and often physical discomfort. EMDR has given us the ability to essentially reverse those negative patterns that have developed in the brain, body and nervous system.
There are two key elements of EMDR treatment. The first is called “bilateral
stimulation” which simply means “two-sided stimulation”. The brain has a right hemisphere and a left hemisphere and each side of the body is “hard-wired” to a specific side of the brain. Creating a rhythmic, back and forth stimulation of each hemisphere of the brain seems to stimulate the “information processing system”. There are several different methods that have been developed for creating this bilateral movement. I usually use soothing music and nature sounds through earphones gently placed on the shoulders, tactile hand sensory impulse, and eye movements. This combination yields powerful results for most individuals.
The second key element of EMDR treatment is the “art and science” of the
therapeutic relationship. First, my client and I make sure we are a good match and that we both understand and clarify the goals we set for our work together. Then, I work with each client to create an environment of safety and comfort in which the client can heal. I do not heal anyone. I create an environment by asking questions which will help the client to reveal the necessary beliefs, thoughts, feelings and body memories we will need in order to move beyond “stuck places”. The end result of EMDR treatment is to reduce and eliminate negative thoughts and feelings, to increase and strengthen positive thoughts and feelings and to enable my clients to enjoy everyday life. We strive to accomplish these goals in as few sessions as possible.
EMDR is not like hypnosis and is different in three important ways: 1.
In EMDR, you are totally aware of what’s going on, you are totally in control of the process and its nothing that anyone is doing “to” you. It is you doing the work; EMDR is simply a catalyst for speeding up the benefits you get from psychotherapy.
EMDR does not have the capacity to create false memories.
EMDR is not at all dependent on the placebo effect. In other words, someone can be totally convinced that it’s not going to work and it still works just as well, because it is a biophysical process. The biggest skeptics are the most surprised at how well EMDR works.
* EMDR is the most researched and scientifically proven therapeutic process for PTSD, ever. Go to: studies. * EMDR has been judged as empirically validated and given a rating of “highest level of effectiveness” in numerous international practice guidelines including The American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines. • EMDR is endorsed by the American Red Cross, the FBI, the International
Critical Incident Stress Management Foundation and major HMO’s such as Kaiser and Value Options.
• EMDR courses are being taught in over 30 colleges and universities and it is
part of the standard treatment in many VA hospitals.
• Research presented in the Fall of 2003 in Chicago by Dr. Bessel A. van der
Kolk, MD, is showing EMDR to be more effective than the SSRI’s (like Prozac and Zoloft). (Dr. van der Kolk is Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School, Clinical Director of the Trauma Center at HRI Hospital in Brookline, Mass, and past President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS).
• EMDR has received a great deal of media attention these last few years.
Dateline, 20/20, etc., have spotlighted the extraordinary speed and effectiveness of EMDR. The truth is, though, that no psychotherapy technique can compete with the millions of advertising dollars spent each year by pharmaceutical companies marketing their drugs to doctors and the general public.
Based on my work alone, I’ve seen clients progress through therapy about four times as fast with integrative EMDR than with other therapy techniques. A client can speed up the process by sticking closely to certain lifestyle guidelines, like: a consistent sleep schedule, using breathing to relax, exercise, drinking lots of clean water, eating “clean”, avoiding chemical depressants (like alcohol and marijuana) and restricting use of chemical stimulants (like caffeine and nicotine). Actually, EMDR can help a client move in to these lifestyle changes easily.
• Many of my clients have been able to reduce or eliminate their need for
antidepressants and anxiety medications.
There are only two possible negative side effects of EMDR treatment:
1. EMDR has a tendency to make bad memories seem very distant or
unclear, so, if we are dealing with something a client will have to
testify about in court, we will need to talk with the attorney about the possible implications of treatment.
2. EMDR has the ability to bring back a memory strongly enough so that
the client may MOMENTARILY have the same intensity of emotion that was experienced at the time of the event. Because of the way I use EMDR, this happens very rarely with my clients. The vast majority find our work to be very gentle, calming and relaxing. If intensity of emotion were to occur, I will always take the time to help the client get to a better place before leaving my office. My goal is to always have my clients leave my office feeling better.
It is extremely important during our history-taking sessions that my clients tell me about any significant traumas or disturbing memories experienced at any time prior to coming to work with me. Also, any negative thought patterns that have developed over time like: “I’m not good enough”, or, “I don’t feel safe”. If a client is in recovery from any form of addiction and “strong feelings” are one of the triggers, I will encourage my client to stick very closely to the recovery program to make sure a good relapse prevention plan is in place. I give each of my clients “emotional management” tools as part of the practice and homework. So, clients who may have fears or concerns about being overwhelmed by feelings during our work can relax and not be afraid of feeling feelings any longer. I have created a series of deep relaxation audio CD’s to help my clients to move forward in comfort. I hope I have answered some of your questions about our work together. Psychotherapy no longer has to be some mysterious, never ending experience where the client must relive the most disturbing memories of life with no assurance that life will get better. Instead, we now know specific treatment modalities which yield dramatic results for a great many people. I look forward to working with you. Please come prepared to feel better! Sincerely, Kathryn A. Kelley, M.A. NCC, LCPC
Here is an excerpt from the American Institute of Stress. “Is all that stress killing you? Probably. How the body responds to stress: • Hair: High stress levels may cause hair loss.
• Brain: Stress triggers mental and emotional problems such as insomnia,
headaches, personality changes, irritability, anxiety and depression.
• Mouth: Ulcers and excessive dryness are often symptoms of stress.
• Heart: Cardiovascular disease and hypertension are linked to chronic stress.
• Lungs: High levels of emotional stress affect those with asthma.
• Digestive tract: Stress can cause or aggravate diseases of the digestive tract,
including gastritis, stomach and duodenal ulcers, ulcerative colitis and irritable colon.
• Reproductive organs: Stress can cause menstrual disorders, recurrent vaginal
infections in women and impotence and premature ejaculation in men.
• Muscles: Pains in the neck and shoulders, muscular or skeletal aches, lower
back pain and various muscular twitches and nervous tics are made worse by stress.
• Skin: Skin problems including eczema and psoriasis can result from stress.
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