Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR):
EMDR is a form of psychotherapy that has a direct effect on the way the brain processes information. It is frequently used in treating trauma, as the process is powerful in transforming a memory that has been “frozen in time” with all the intense emotions and physical sensations, to one that is recalled without the intense emotional upset. Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for a number of problems including, post traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, complicated grief, phobias, disturbing memories, pain disorder, performance anxiety and stress reduction.
During EMDR we work with our clients to identify a specific problem as the focus of the treatment. The client calls to mind the disturbing issue or event, and beliefs that are currently held about that event. A positive replacement belief is then chosen. The therapist facilitates directional movement of the eyes or other dual attention stimulation of the brain, while the client focuses on the disturbing material, and notices what comes to mind without making any effort to control the content. Sets of eye moments are continued until the memory becomes less disturbing and the positive thoughts and beliefs about one’s self become strengthened. Most people find that EMDR provides a “softer” and more rapid manner to deal with traumatic material.
While no one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically in the brain, “EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way. “ (“What is EMDR”. EMDRIA, Austin TX)
OCD leads sufferers to get caught in endless cycles of checking, washing, touching objects, tapping, counting, saying “magic” words aloud or silently, seeking reassurance, trying to find the “perfect” answer to their most frightening concerns. They are trapped in a fruitless attempt to think or do the thing which will finally make them feel safe and “OK”. The OCD grows until it takes over hours and days and makes it hard for people to do the things they need and want to do.
Exposure Response Prevention (ERP):
We use Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) to treat OCD, fears phobias and panic. This is a specialized form of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy which has been shown to be effective in reducing and eliminating symptoms, freeing people to lead the lives they dream of.
ERP involves repetitively exposing a person to a situation, item, or thought which is feared while blocking the use of the thoughts or actions which are used to bring the feeling of safety (response prevention). The therapist then assists the person as they learn to tolerate the anxiety until it either passes on its own or they develop the ability to tolerate it and go on with life. . With repetitive exposure to their triggers, the person often develops an immunity to the trigger so it no longer leads to anxiety and the need for anxiety-reducing compulsions. When an individual completes ERP for one trigger, it is typically easier and faster to treat the compulsive reactions to other triggers.
In treating OCD, once symptoms have been eliminated, it is important to do cognitive retraining. This replaces the unhealthy thinking which underlies obsessive-compulsive disorder with more flexible ways to deal anxiety provoking thoughts and situations. This is an often- overlooked strategy which can help prevent relapse into the original OCD symptoms or the development of new ones.
Often, family members have learned to accommodate to the client’s OCD. This accommodation, while it provides temporary feelings of safety and relief, actually increases the problem. My work typically involves helping family members learn new ways to respond to the OCD and to help the sufferer learn to get through rather than escape their anxiety.
Eating disorders often arise from dissatisfaction with one’s body and a desire to achieve a more desirable shape. What follows is an ongoing battle with food, a search for the perfect strategies or rules which will produce that ideal body. Sadly, the more one works to find the perfect strategies, the less successful they feel and their self-esteem drops. It’s common to find problems with depression, anxiety, and relationships appearing as the struggle with the eating disorder continues. There may be more conflicts with friends and family or even the complete loss of relationships as the eating disorder takes over the person’s life.
Treatment is done in stages, beginning with stabilizing eating and exercise, then developing a more flexible and realistic approach to food, replacing black and white thinking with more self-acceptance and effective problem-solving, learning healthy ways to relate to one’s friends and family around food, and finally correcting distortions in body image. Specialized techniques are used at each stage of the treatment process. Effective treatment typically involves collaboration with physicians, dietitians, psychiatrists, and families.
Excess weight and obesity are a concern for many people. Most of my clients have tried dieting many times over a period of years and have been unable to achieve lasting weight loss. The problem lies in the diet, not in the person. Diets are designed for short-term usage; to achieve long-term loss, people have to find ways to change the behaviors that lead to weight gain. This is a complex matter; it involves changing the way one eats, the way one thinks, emotional reactions, and often, relationships. To lose weight and keep it off, it is important to find the strategies that promote weight loss without suffering.
We help people develop the personal strategies that help them build a life in which they can enjoy eating, exercise regularly, lose weight slowly, and keep the weight off. We target one skill set at a time rather than trying to make massive change overnight. This allows people to see their progress so they don’t fall into the despair that leads many to give up their attempts to lose weight.
People who have had bariatric (weight loss) surgery need special skills to adapt to life following their surgery. The 2 most common surgeries are gastric bypass and lap band. Surgery alone will not guarantee lasting weight loss. Patients willing to work on learning to manage their behavior, thinking, emotional reactions and relationships before and after their surgery to increase their chances of achieving the long-term weight loss they seek.
Chronic pain can lead people into depression, anxiety, absenteeism from work or school and withdrawal from relationships. Over time, pain sufferers become watchful, waiting for the next time the pain will take over their lives. While it may not be possible to eliminate pain totally, it is often possible to reduce it significantly using hypnosis, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and lifestyle adjustments. We assist people in learning all 3 strategies.
Chronic medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, neurologic conditions all require people to develop skills to manage those conditions. The need to manage medical conditions every day leads many people to feel angry, depressed, anxious, or deprived or to ignore the issue altogether. These feelings can lead to reactions which worsen the medical conditions they arise from. I help people find ways to work through these feelings and develop healthier approaches to their lifestyle and medical management.
A cognitive behavioral therapist (CBT) practices a form of therapy for mental health or psychotherapy that helps patients identify and correct negative or destructive thought patterns, feelings and behaviors. Cognitive and behavioral therapists often teach clients the techniques and skills they need to heal successfully. They often focus on the thoughts, emotions, perceptions and behaviors that a client engages in and the ways in which these are connected to one another, allowing the therapist to work on various levels in a client’s life
Psychoeducation refers to the education offered to individuals with a mental health condition, and when appropriate, their families, to help empower them to deal with their condition in an optimal way. A goal is for the patient to understand and be better able to deal with the presented illness. Also, the patient’s own capabilities, resources and coping skills are strengthened and used to contribute to their own health and wellbeing on a long-term basis.