The Therapeutic Specialty of EMDR: What is it and how is it used?
While Creative Family Counseling offers many different Specialties for clients, depending on their interests and therapeutic needs, EMDR Therapy is a specialty that many people have questions about when first introduced to it. For this reason, I sat down with my colleague, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Dawn Pendleton, who is Certified in EMDR. As a seasoned clinician with over 20 years in the field, Dawn has used numerous types of approaches to therapy, including EMDR. She states that her goal is to facilitate healing for her clients in as short an amount of time as possible, which is why she’s so passionate about her use of EMDR. In this interview, Dawn gave some background on this therapeutic tool, discussed how and why it is used, and suggested who might benefit from EMDR Therapy.
Lacey: Dawn, why don’t you first start out by introducing us to EMDR.
Dawn: Let me first start out by saying EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy. I was trained in EMDR after working in the field for about 10 years. What I immediately noticed about using EMDR was how powerful it was in healing the whole self. I found that the more traditional talk therapies, that I had been using for years and still do use some, tended to take longer and things would resurface after a period of time for folks. What I found with EMDR is that it not only worked on the beliefs the person had about themselves and the deep seeded emotions they were experiencing, which were usually connected to specific incidents and experiences in their lives, but it also addressed where those emotions and memories were physically stored in their bodies. With talk therapy, I wasn’t able to address the physical component to memories. With EMDR, it addresses every aspect of a person. Because of this, in general, EMDR tends to work more quickly than traditional talk therapy methods and also really has more permanent and long lasting results.
Lacey: What is the training and certification process like for someone offering EMDR?
Dawn: It is quite a rigorous training and well worth it. Generally, when someone is trained in EMDR, Therapists have to go through two levels of EMDR training. Each part was a 3-day-intensive course where the course was divided into learning the coursework and actually going through the EMDR process with other participants, where we practiced on one another. The trainings are usually some time a part, which allows clinicians to obtain client hours using EMDR and supervision/consultation hours. After completing both levels of training, using it in my practice, obtaining additional continuing education and additional consultation hours for EMDR, one may reach the requirements for certification. In addition to that, to renew my certification each year, I have to obtain a minimum of 14 hours of continuing education hours annually in specifically EMDR approaches.
Lacey: That last part is important because EMDR is such a neuro-focused therapeutic technique, that with more and more research on brain science coming out each year, all of that informs the practice of EMDR.
Dawn: Exactly. EMDR was first developed and found effective to treat major trauma, but there have been lots of different ways that the standard approach of EMDR has been built on over the years where Therapists have begun to accentuate the standard protocol to really target other specific treatment needs such as addictions, chronic pain, OCD type behaviors, and even using EMDR with children. It’s been really exciting to see how people in the field are discovering how EMDR can be used for nearly any sort of treatment need.
Lacey: Who do you treat with EMDR and what sort of treatment issues would benefit from EMDR Therapy?
Dawn: Since it was first developed (over 30 years ago) to treat trauma, EMDR can be used to work with anyone who has experienced a traumatic incident. I also use it to treat anxiety, such as performance anxiety or social anxiety and with people who have difficulties in relationships, particularly if it is related to their beliefs about their worth or how they view themselves in relationships with others. I also use it with a lot of clients in the LGBTQIA+ Community. Unfortunately, there are a lot of negative messages for individuals in that community, which someone may internalize about themselves. I often use EMDR with folks in that community so they can really see themselves more accurately, authentically, and kindly. I’ve also used EMDR with high achieving individuals such as athletes, artists, executives, etc., particularly if something is keeping them stuck and preventing them from reaching their next benchmark goal.
Lacey: It’s obvious that you are passionate about using EMDR.
Dawn: Absolutely! One thing I have seen with clients with whom I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years, is that once they complete the EMDR process, they are on a different road in life than they were on previously. That road was previously not accessible to them because of the trauma or negative experiences they had gone through that got tangled up with these negative views and beliefs of themselves. It is really powerful to see when a person has healed through this particular method. It’s a complete change in direction – a healthy and positive change in direction.
Lacey: It’s an incredible resource.
Dawn: It is! If there is anyone out there who feels this might be a beneficial therapy for them, I’d encourage you to find someone in your area who is trained or even certified in EMDR. You can do that by visiting www.EMDR.com or www.EMDRIA.org.
If you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our Therapists who offer EMDR, contact us today!