Treating trauma with EMDR Yashira Oropeza-Diaz, PsyD, MSCP, LMHC Licensed Psychologist

What is trauma?

Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel a full range of emotions and experiences.  Trauma is a pervasive problemUnlike ordinary hardships, traumatic events tend to be sudden and unpredictable, involve a serious threat to life—like bodily injury or death—and feel beyond a person’s control. Most important, events are traumatic to the degree that they undermine a person’s sense of safety in the world and create a sense that catastrophe could strike at any time.  Because events are viewed subjectively, this broad definition of trauma should only be used as a guideline.  Everyone processes a traumatic event differently, therefore the same event might be categorized by someone as traumatic while others might be able to cope with it and not be affected by it.   This is because we all face situations through the lens of prior experiences in our lives. 

Trauma Symptoms

Often, shock and denial are typical reactions to a traumatic event. Over time, these emotional responses may fade, but a survivor may also experience reactions long-term. These can include:

·         Anger

·         Persistent feelings of sadness and despair

·         Flashbacks

·         Unpredictable emotions

·         Physical symptoms, such as nausea and headaches

·         Intense feelings of guilt, as if they are somehow responsible for the event

·         An altered sense of shame

·         Feelings of isolation and hopelessness

What is EMDR and how is it different from other therapy approaches?

EMDR is a structured form of therapy that uses an eight-phase approach to treat the symptoms related to trauma and other psychological disorders, reduce the effects of trauma and help people move forward toward their full potential.

EMDR therapy assumes that many of your symptoms come from the brain not fully processing the most stressful experiences you’ve been through.  Due to the intensity of the experiences, and the way the brain has recorded them, it is very difficult for you to differentiate what is a reaction to the current situation versus a reaction to the memory of what happened.  Throughout EMDR therapy, past experiences, current triggers, and potentially stressful situations you may face in the future are all addressed.  EMDR therapy does not require talking in detail about the distressing issue or completing homework between sessions.

What can I expect?

After the therapist and client agree that EMDR therapy is a good fit, the client will work through the eight phases of EMDR therapy with their therapist.

Attention will be given to a negative image, belief, emotion, and body sensation related to this event, and then to a positive belief that would indicate the issue was resolved.

EMDR therapy, rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process.

A typical EMDR therapy session lasts from 60-90 minutes.

Virtual/online EMDR therapy 

Recent research trials have shown that online therapy has been found to be as effective in reducing symptoms, as therapy delivered face-to-face by a clinician. Evidence is particularly strong for the effectiveness of treatment for anxiety, stress, and depression. In addition, online therapy allows the client to maintain and build a satisfactory rapport with their therapist, in the same way, they would through face-to-face treatment. Results indicate that there is no significant difference between the outcomes obtained from each EMDR Therapy session delivered ‘online’ or a face-to-face mode of delivery. The author demonstrated that the use of an online EMDR Therapy tool can be just as effective as working with a client face-to-face.

Virtual or online EMDR, similar to in-person EMDR, uses technology to connect with your therapist. Virtual EMDR is also very effective as a delivery method for EMDR. Here are some of the benefits of online EMDR sessions:

You can meet with your therapist from anywhere you feel safe and comfortable. With EMDR, it’s essential to feel safe during sessions so virtual sessions can happen in a space you are already comfortable. 
Attending telehealth sessions cuts down drive time to and from a therapy session. 
Some people enjoy meeting a therapist who lives in another part of the state and they’re unlikely to otherwise cross paths with. Telehealth makes this possible.
There are creative ways of using EMDR via telehealth and your therapist has several options for providing bilateral stimulation.
Please call 813-563-1155 or email today to set up your free EMDR consult with Dr. Oropeza-Diaz!

205 S. Hoover Blvd. Ste 202
Tampa, FL 33609
(813) 563-1155

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