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How does EMDR Therapy Work?

Recently I had the honor of being on the "Going Inside" Podcast, with John Clarke, where we talked about all things EMDR Therapy.

Watch the interview on the YouTube link below. You can also listen on Spotify or iTunes.

How EMDR Processes and Heals Traumatic Memories ft. Dana Carretta-Stein

In this episode of "Going Inside," host John Clarke engages in a deep conversation with Dana Carretta-Stein, an expert in EMDR therapy, exploring the intricacies and nuances of trauma therapy and EMDR techniques.

Key Topics Discussed to answer the question of How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

1. Core Ingredients of EMDR Therapy:

   - Dana emphasizes the importance of therapist-client attunement as the cornerstone of effective EMDR therapy, enabling therapists to observe nonverbal cues and guide clients through processing.

2. Flexibility in EMDR Protocol:

   - The conversation highlights the need for therapists to adapt EMDR protocols to individual client needs rather than rigidly following a standardized approach, fostering a more holistic therapeutic environment.

3. Client Engagement and Belief in Therapy:

   - John and Dana discuss the significance of client engagement and belief in the therapeutic process, drawing parallels between EMDR and clinical hypnosis in leveraging belief as a catalyst for healing.

4. Holistic Approach to Trauma Healing:

   -  The importance of addressing trauma holistically, considering not only the specific trauma but also its broader impact on clients' lives and mental health, is underscored as a central tenet of trauma-informed care.

5. A Therapeutic Relationship and Therapists’ Roles:

   - The discussion emphasizes the therapist's role as a facilitator of healing, emphasizing the collaborative nature of therapy and the therapeutic relationship's significance in promoting client safety and trust.

This episode provides valuable insights into trauma therapy and EMDR techniques, emphasizing the importance of client-centered approaches and therapeutic adaptability in facilitating healing journeys.

For more information on Dana visit: 

To learn more about EMDR Therapy and how it works, check out The EMDR Therapy Progress Journal

EMDR Therapy Interview Transcript:

John: This is Going Inside, healing trauma from the inside out. Hosted by me, licensed trauma therapist, John Clarke. Going Inside is a weekly podcast on a mission to help you heal from trauma and connect with your authentic self. Tune in for enlightening guests, interviews, immersive solo deep dives, real life therapy sessions, and soothing guided meditations.

John: Follow me on socials, at JohnClarkeTherapy on Instagram,TikTok, and YouTube and apply to work with me one on one at johnclarktherapy. com. Thanks for being here. Let's dive in. Dana Coretta Stein is a licensed mental health counselor, EMDR consultant, author, and owner of Peaceful Living in Scarsdale, New York.

John: Dana is a passion is passionate about the importance of trauma informed care and the effect it has on emotional, physical, and mental well being. She loves to learn about and educate others on compassionate evidence [00:01:00] based and effective counseling interventions to help individuals of all ages achieve fulfilling relationships and optimal wellness.

John: Um, Dana, how are you doing? It's so good to see you after many years, 

Dana: many years. I'm doing really well. Very excited to see you and just pick 

John: up where we left off. Yeah, I know. Right. I mean, just a little insight for the listeners. Um, I met Dana Business retreat basically years ago. This was Joe Sanox retreat.

John: And, um, I was kind of getting, going with my other business, my business coaching business, private practice workshop, and, uh, um, yeah, and you were working on your businesses as well. 

Dana: Yeah, like building the practice and just getting more into trauma focused stuff. 

John: Yeah. I'd love to hear, you know, how you got to where you're at today.

John: You know, I stumbled across, um, your Instagram where you're making some really amazing, uh, EMDR content, trauma [00:02:00] content, and, um, built up quite the following. You've got some books under your belt. It's really cool to see what you've built, but yeah, maybe just. Building off of the intro there. What else should people know about you?

John: Yeah. 

Dana: Um, I'm just super passionate about trauma informed care. I'd like spent so much time in the therapy world of focusing on diagnosis and anxiety and things like that. And then, you know, once you get trained in EMDR therapy, you really zoom out and see like, wow, it's really not about pathologizing people at all, but about getting curious about what happened to them.

Dana: And. Starting to see the whole person, and that's just what I've. Like, I feel like my life's work is, is to help make that really easy to understand and make wellness really easy to achieve for as many people as possible. It's just, it's my love and yeah, that and also mom and a wife and those fun things too.

Dana: And I love my kids more than life 

John: itself. Totally. Yeah, I heard this on a [00:03:00] podcast the other day that, um, some high percentage of graduate schools do not train therapists to treat trauma, uh, which resonated with me and was the situation I found myself in after, you know, six or seven years in the field and having a lot of clients talk about their trauma, not knowing that, uh, unintentionally I was probably making it worse or exposing them to their own traumatic memories and doing nothing about it other than reflecting and going, um, until I got.

John: EMDR trained in 2015 and then the Monday after the training, it's like, I'm going to start using this to actually help people move forward, you know, and, and process these traumatic memories. So I'm curious like how you came to EMDR and, and why EMDR out of all the different modalities for treating trauma.

Dana: Yeah, so I was actually really, really lucky. Um, I, I graduated and right after I graduated, um, connected with Barbara Heffernan, who's an amazing psychotherapist. She was in Norwalk, Connecticut at the time, and she [00:04:00] took me on as part of her group practice. And, you know, I was brand new, really hadn't worked anywhere yet besides, you know, when I was doing clinicals and stuff.

Dana: And she said, you know, uh, I do a lot of EMDR therapy, you know, you should check out the training. And I said to her, what's that? Never heard of it. Wasn't taught in school. So I was like, yeah, sure. I'll do the training. Like I'm new. I'd love to learn. Did the training and was really at an advantage because I hadn't really gotten very ingrained in any type of modality yet.

Dana: So I really got, you know, EMDR was. The first thing that I really took and grabbed hold of, um, and thank God for that. And yeah, that's how I found it. I did the training and just got more and more into it after the training, did consultation, got certified, became a consultant. And, you know, trauma is, you know, the more you learn about it, the more you're like, wow, how does not everybody see this?

Dana: Right. 

John: Yeah. It really does give a [00:05:00] new lens for things, or even when You know, as we talk about pathology or someone comes in and says, um, what brings them to therapy maybe is anxiety or they're drinking too much to tamp down a nervous system response that is, guess what, driven, you know, the, the, the fuel for that is, is trauma, right?

John: Or the engine. for that is trauma, untreated trauma. Um, even people that a lot of times, like either have been to traditional talk therapy or in my, you know, my, my group practice, everyone is EMDR training. We're all trauma therapists. A lot of therapists will send people to us as an adjunct to say, Hey, we're doing traditional talk therapy and it's It's not working, right?

John: Or this trauma piece is like in the way they're stuck. And so they come to us for that. Um, 

Dana: yeah. Yeah. And that's where MDR can be amazing because it can be done adjunctively. Right. And you know, one thing I always say is to make sure, you know, the MDR therapist does communicate with. The, the weekly therapist, just so there's no triangulation or things like that that can happen, [00:06:00] but it does really help because, you know, everybody needs to talk and so talk therapy can be really beneficial to people.

Dana: So they might not want to give that up, but they do need that other something of, you know, you sit with clients and you hear their story and you're like, okay. We, we know where it's coming from. Now what? Yeah. Yeah. Now what do we do? And you're kind of stuck if you don't, if you're not trained in EMDR, you yourself feel stuck because you're like, Okay, but it's not cognitive.

Dana: I don't know what to do with this. Now. Yeah,


John: right. Yeah. Yeah. What to do with it. Right. Once, once you get a client talking about their trauma, what to do with it. Right. And again, that's the dilemma I found myself in. Um, I want to step back for a second and kind of, um, Well, you can pretend like I know nothing about EMDR because you're the first person on this podcast to come and talk about EMDR.

John: And so, um, uh, first of all, for the people listening, people dealing with trauma in their lives. How do you know if EMDR is [00:07:00] right for you? How do you prepare for it? How do you know if it's working? How do you find an EMDR therapist? I know you have a book that helps clients, um, navigate the process of EMDR.

John: So I'm really curious to integrate that into the conversation, but yeah, maybe just starting from like, what is EMDR and how do you know if it could help you?

Dana: EMDR stands for eye movement, desensitization and reprocessing. And there's all these. It's words that sound computer like in the EMDR language, and it really drives me a little crazy.

Dana: Like, there's all these protocols, and there's processing, and basically, it's a trauma informed model. So, you know if it's right for you if you have present day symptoms that are rooted in past experiences. That being said, some people don't realize that it's rooted in past experiences. They're like, well, I'm just an anxious person.Dana: Nobody's born an anxious person. We're born with a nervous system that's wired for protection and survival, but if you're starting to label yourself as an anxious person, that chronic anxiety was learned somewhere. So it's about taking those present day struggles, where you're struggling in your life, whether it's, you know, anxiety, feeling depressed, uh, struggling in your present day relationships, and connecting that.

Dana: To earlier life experiences and then actually processing them and we can get into what that means, but really helping your brain relearn those events so that they're no longer stuck in their natural raw state so that your brain still feels like they're still happening right now. 

John: Um, can you. Maybe talk about, um, this idea of like, really, what is trauma?

John: You know, I had a client recently who came to me and said, um, you know, I, I don't have any, any trauma, you know, nothing significant like that in my life. And then he immediately went into this, um, story about how he was severely bullied in preschool. [00:09:00] Um, so it's like, I think that, you know, there's confusion around what is trauma or if I haven't like been to war and back, do I have trauma or could I have PTSD?

John: Right. 

Dana: Right, right. The easiest way to define trauma is trauma. And this is really from Gabor Matei, who I love is trauma is an experience. Trauma is what goes on inside of you as a result of what happened to you. So you can have an incident like, you know, natural disaster, for example, she's like a common one and one person might be traumatized from it and one person might not be the event itself.

Dana: Yes, we might perceive as traumatic and you know, just day to day. But how that person felt, how they perceived that experience is what impacts whether or not they were traumatized from it. So it's really about the internal experience. 

John: Yeah. Um, I'm going to throw [00:10:00] another example here. Personal example is, uh, I was an E. M. T. For four years and looking back on that experience. Yeah, it was a huge part of my life and Like any EMT or first responder, um, you know, I was exposed to horrific scenes. Um, and I would run hundreds and hundreds of calls every single year, right? Sometimes, you know, 5, 10 calls in a day, right? And those people are having the worst day of their life and you're going and helping.

John: Um, out of all of those years and all those, you know, thousands of calls or whatever, there was really only one. That stuck that stood with me or stuck with stuck with me. Sorry. Yeah, let's see my trauma starting to scramble my brain And it had to do with Helplessness I went on a call where basically I thought we were ready for the call And then some people didn't show up and people didn't want to go into the house with me to help [00:11:00] so even though I was like prepared in uniform similar like An ER doctor, right?

John: They're seeing horrible things, but they have tools and resources to help and do something about it. My sense of agency was disrupted then, right? I was going into this stressful situation, but then no one was, was helping me. Um, so that one stood out to me and taught me so much for me about like, what is trauma or what, in this case, what is more traumatic than some other calls that were just like disturbing or gory, right? 

Dana: Right, right. Yeah. I mean, it's a perfect example because it's about what happened inside of you. You felt like in that can really have someone you can either freeze or feel anxious or shut down. And that's what we're talking about is, is the internal experience, which is so important. And another thing I always love to point out because someone's like, Oh, you know, I never experienced anything traumatic happening to me.

Dana: Trauma is also what didn't happen to you. Yeah. Which a lot of people don't realize of really not growing up in an environment that was safe Whether it's physically safe Emotionally safe not feeling cared for is huge Huge and so when some people like well nothing traumatic happened to me Michael Maybe what didn't happen to you that you wish it did.

John: I think a lot of people don't know what's normal, right? You know, for instance, I had a Client who had a medical issue as a kid and their parents just didn't help, right? Just kind of gas lit them and ignored them. Um, that is so traumatic, right? I mean looking at that You know, what's interesting too is I told a client recently Because trauma also has this imprint on your future on your sense of self and also in your relationships, right?

John: Or the you know some of my trauma clients When things are good That's when they're most anxious because they're always waiting for the other shoe to drop, right? Or if someone is getting close to them and they're like falling in love, it's like, that's when defenses get high [00:13:00] and protective parts and IFS terms, you know, get activated.

John: Um, and sometimes people don't know that, uh, not everyone has that internal. You know, chaos going on, right? Some people did actually have the white picket fence upbringing where things were normal, things were safe, parents were consistent and steady and warm or whatever. Um, and some people, you know, had that type of upbringing.

Dana: Yeah. I mean, the best example I always use sometimes to like interject my personal life is, you know, my husband and I, we both grew up very, very differently. I'm from a very traditional Italian family. We're loud and crazy and chaotic. And my husband is quiet Jewish family and his, his mom, we always talk about who, you know, she's had her own histories of trauma.

Dana: She's not nurturing at all, but that's how she always. was. So that was consistent versus my crazy Italian family. You kind of never knew what you were getting. So I [00:14:00] was always way more anxious and some people would be like, well, that doesn't make sense because your family is so loving and this and that

Dana: You're like, yeah, but you didn't know if they were in a bad mood. And then, you know, a wooden spoon would go flying or a slipper. My husband who's not super anxious is because he at least while he, you know, definitely struggled with not getting nurtured. He at least knew what to expect. That part was consistent for him.

Dana: So it's interesting how, you know, you never know how things are going to shape somebody in different ways. 

John: Yeah. We, you know, this, this subset of trauma. called relational trauma, right? It's a trauma that happens relationally and especially with caregivers, intimate partners, friends, you know, people that we expect to be there for us or be consistent for us and trauma happens there or abuse, whatever it might be.

John: Yeah. Yeah. But this idea of unmet needs, I think is a really good one. So a [00:15:00] lot of people think about trauma as like what happened to me, but in like, to your point, um, what didn't happen, you know, in my life, that's a great, um, you know, looking at the other side of the coin. So let's say that someone is on board and goes, Hey, I'm listening to this right now.

John: And maybe I had some disruptive experiences in my life that maybe EMDR could help with. Um, If they reach out to someone like you, um, how do you explain EMDR as to like, how it works and what an actual session looks like?  

Dana: So I always start with the, the first three sessions with any client is we're just getting to know each other and doing what I call phase zero in EMDR.

Dana: So really just. Establishing a relationship and building rapport and in those first three sessions, we gather more information to determine if EMDR is the right fit more likely than not. It usually is because it's applicable in many scenarios, but really, we're determining what type of treatment plan we're doing.

Dana: So we know we can answer the questions that most people ask, like, how long it takes, what does it look like, things like that. So we usually, you know, if someone calls and says, you know, how do I know if it's right for me? I'll say, well, what are the present day symptoms that you're struggling with? And in terms of what you want to work on, do you want to do comprehensive treatment where you go to the earliest experiences you can imagine, target them and work through them? Or do you just want to work on present day issues? And that's when we have the conversation of you could still do EMDR, but it's going to be more symptom reduction, not symptom resolution, which comprehensive treatment really provides. Yeah. We really give that, you know, overview of what to, uh, what to expect.

Dana: And then just, you know, the overview of how it all works are, you know, experiences are encoded in our nervous system and we need to be able to tap into the nervous system and feel those sensations and emotions [00:17:00] in order to process them. Yeah. In some cases it's that. That experience that we need to almost have that release or in cases like attachment trauma, it's about inviting in an adaptive response that we didn't get at the time, like a nurturing figure or a protective figure or something like that.

John: So, um, you know, one idea is that, that in trauma or when, when trauma is happening, or let's say a kind of classic example, kind of big T trauma, like an assault, um, the brain kind of stops processing the memory component of what's happening. And so the memories do not get processed into long term storage.

John: Um, that's a way I kind of think of it or like pitch it, start pitching it to clients. Um, Can you talk about the memory piece and like what EMDR does from a memory perspective? 

Dana: Yeah, absolutely. So when we experience something in the moment like a like an assault or something It like you said doesn't get encoded in the brain. The way I once had a supervisor explain it always stuck with me is imagine if you like, take like a piece of glass or something and you shatter it over your head and bits and pieces of the memory kind of gets stored like different puzzle pieces throughout your brain. So it's not a comprehensive picture.

Dana: It's not a story of this happened. This is the beginning, the middle and the end. So the memory itself gets stuck in its raw state. meaning that the images, the smells, the sounds, sensations are all stuck in that amygdala limbic system in their raw state and not encoded into the hippocampus where they do get encoded into long term memory.

Dana: So when we. Target a memory. For example, the way a target assessment is done in phase three is notice the image we frequently say, but it could just be the sensory component, the [00:19:00] image, the smell, something that represents the worst part of that experience. Because that's lighting up the limbic system, that, where that, that, those puzzle pieces are jammed up.

Dana: And now let's get the left brain online, which is the, you know, the storytelling brain. Now when you picture that image and those sensory components, what belief do you have about yourself right now? And then going back to the right brain, what emotions do you feel as you remember this? And where do you notice that in your body?

Dana: So it's really lighting up, you know, the left and the right side of the brain, the top down, so we say it's a bottom up, top down, left right treatment. So you're really involving the entire brain so you can Light up those little puzzle pieces and start putting them together so that they can be filed correctly in the part of the brain, the hippocampus that can store them as long term memory as a comprehensive narrative.

Dana: Like it happened, it's over now [00:20:00] and it's finished.


John: And a result that I find is that people can talk about what happened to them without the nervous system response. 

Dana: Yes! Talking head syndrome, that's what I call it. They're so disconnected from the felt sense.

John: yeah. And in a lot of times when they come in, you know, uh, well, what I find is that a lot of clients have some degree of psychological avoidance with the memory itself.

John: Right? So if I ask, I had a client today and I started asking her about this accident that she had. And, um, you could tell she was kind of stepping around certain parts of the memory. This is the first time we had talked about it. And also her nervous system got activated during some part of it. So I just had her kind of slow down, stop, notice that.

John: Okay. Right. Even, um, working on giving a number, right. Zero to 100, the sud scale, big MDR piece of like what's happening inside right now and developing that, that awareness, um, in preparation for doing. The actual reprocessing work. But, um, that was one thing I mentioned to her is like, at some point we have to kind of go toward the activation, right?

John: Or like you said, the worst part of the memory, the most salient part of the memory, uh, might be somewhere that we go eventually with the EMDR. And a big part of the EMDR therapist responsibility is, um, really titrating the work and making sure we don't flood the client, right. And overwhelm the client.

John: Cause I think, especially being new to EMDR and being excited in the client, being excited to like get through this Right. Like finally heal, just do it. Like, can we just do it in the first session? Right. Sometimes that eagerness can get in the way and a therapist might go, okay, great. Yeah. Let's start reprocessing that accident and end up getting a client flooded or there's only 10 minutes left, you know, before the next client.

John: So, um, it's, it's a potent treatment and you know, that the pacing of it to me is, is so important and takes time to develop.

Dana: [00:22:00] Absolutely. And you bring up such an important point because, you know, I think very often, especially a newly trained therapist, they get really excited to use it and we think of EMDR just as, you know, the reprocessing part.

Dana: It's like targeting the memory and working through it. But phase two, the resourcing is Such an important part of the process. And for some clients that is the work, right? No, that that's why we never want to skip phase two and phase one as well of, you know, let's learn some tools so that if you do get overwhelmed.

Dana: When we start reprocessing, we have an arsenal of stuff that you can rely on to help calm your nervous system. So it's not just co regulation of the therapist and I working together. Like, you know, I tell clients I can help you regulate all the time. I'm here, but I don't live with you. So if you do get activated, which guess what?

Dana: If we, once we start processing, the processing continues when you leave my office, I need you to have some self regulation tools. So [00:23:00] that you can trust that your nervous system can help you come back from a very distressed place. Yeah. 

John: Yeah. That, um, you know, clients will sometimes, um, have vivid dreams after the session, right?

John: To kind of prepare them for what's happening with their brain. To me, you know, the brain wants to finish processing those memories just like a cut on your arm wants to heal. Yes. If it has the conditions needed to heal, right? Right. Like it's covered and clean and It has, you know, things to help it heal or whatever.

John: So once that process starts, you can see those memories becoming consolidated and doing what they've been trying to do. Right. Ever since the event.

Dana: Yeah. Yeah. And that's what EMDR does is it taps into the brain's natural. Healing abilities that adaptive information processing, 

John: can you talk a little bit more about, um, once you get into the actual reprocessing, like what a session looks like or what a client could expect, um, even the kind of [00:24:00] mechanism of, of BLS, like that you help, um, establish with a client, how that works.

Dana: Yeah, absolutely. So the bilateral stimulation, the BLS is really what makes EMDR, EMDR, right? Those. Um, bilateral movements, and that can be audio. Uh, no, I'm going like this and saying audio visual, where you're tracking eye movements, tactile, where you have like the buzzers as I call 'em, or some people call 'em paddles or tappers, where those alternate vibrations one at a time.

Dana: Or some people do audio where it alternates tones. Or you can do multiple. Modalities at the same time. So for some clients, they might really need, they have a hard time getting activated. They're more hypo arousal. We might use two forms of bilateral, like tactile and visual. Um, so that really helps with.

Dana: So once we start the reprocessing work, they can get. activated enough into the window of tolerance to be able to [00:25:00] process a memory. And that basically looks like once we're ready to do that work, we go into phase three, which is target assessment, and that's very, very quick. It's a quick, quick process.

Dana: It's really just meant to highlight the components. of the memory and light them all up and activate the brain to reprocess and then jump into the actual phase for the eye movement part. So the components of memory are like the sensory component, right? So like the seven magic questions, as we call it with standard protocol, image, the worst part of the memory, the belief that you have about yourself when you focus on that experience.

Dana: What you wish you could believe about yourself, even if you don't believe it right now, to sell clients. How much do you believe that? Zero to seven, and you focus on that experience. What emotions do you feel right now as you're focusing on that? Zero to ten, how disturbing is [00:26:00] that to you right now? And as you focus on that image with that belief of I'm not good enough and feeling angry and that pit in your stomach, put all those things together and just notice what comes up and then I'll have them follow and I'll say to clients, just turn on your observer mind.

Dana: You don't have to actively think of anything. Just observe wherever your brain or your body goes. Yeah. Turn off the buzzers. I'll just ask you what you noticed, actively think of anything. Just what do you get now? 

John: Yeah, that's, that's wonderful. Um, yeah. You know, we also, we make these clips for social media and I'm also like, Dana's just crushing it right now with these little, like, that's such a clippable moment of like, I love that we both think like that.

John: Yeah. How does BLS work? I'm like, that's going to be a good clip. Uh, So you're giving me a lot of content here, which content is king. You know, that's all I think about. [00:27:00] Um, um, 

Dana: Content's great. Cause it helps it's digestible information so that people can get information that helps them heal. 

John: I think you're right.

John: And I think the way Yeah. People come to information now is, um, through things like an Instagram clip or learning about EMDR, even EMDR being in, uh, the media these days, you know, um, so that, that's a whole nother thing. Um, so yeah, the mechanism, the BLS piece, stimulating both sides of the brain, facilitating this communication of the two sides of the brain is, is really important.

John: Well, one thing that I love about EMDR is that, um, like you said, you just, yeah. Just hold the memory and then notice right or follow my fingers or whatever the tappers and then just notice Versus I think a lot of therapy and traditional therapy that is kind of insight oriented is like, okay You were abused when you were seven and now You like get scared anytime someone you're anytime [00:28:00] you're like intimate with someone And then we're, we're kind of like, you know, intellectualizing and drawing connections, which may be helpful to an extent to understand like that thing affected this part of my life, but again, it's like, what do we do about it?

John: Right. And this reaction that is so, so much deeper than cognition or then. You know, whatever is, is, um, it really uproots the trauma. Absolutely. 

Dana: Absolutely. Cause the brain processes information from the bottom up. So often I'll tell clients and for some people that the insight oriented therapies are enough, like the top down approaches work for them and can get them to take that information top down and integrate that into the lower levels of the brain when it doesn't.

Dana: That's when we know we need things like EMDR because the brain processes information from the bottom up. That means when we experience a situation, it goes, you know, brain stem, cerebellum, all of the non [00:29:00] thinking parts of our brain. So, our body starts reacting before our conscious brain, that prefrontal cortex, that up here, before that part of our brain has any idea what's going on.

Dana: So, we might start having like a racing heart, shortness of breath, panic attack or something and go, what the hell is going on? And that's the way it's like, well, what triggered you? I don't know. Yeah, I bet you don't know because your thinking brain didn't have a chance to figure out what was happening before your body started reacting.

John: Yeah. Um, I want to ask you a question that's, I guess, like, uh, more of an insider baseball question or whatever, but, um, like, what do you think is kind of the key ingredient of EMDR if you were to extract, like, what is the therapeutic component of it? Um, because as you mentioned, when. The way you describe EMDR [00:30:00] and even hitting on multiple pieces, like the memories, um, the body, even right, connecting with the body, um, and helping the body to do what it's trying to do, um, the belief part of the cognition part, right?

John: Those pieces are all in EMDR. Um, but yeah, what do you feel like is like really the core ingredient or is it really all of it? 

Dana: Attunement to your client. That really is. I think with anything, obviously with EMDR, but, um, in any situation, proper attunement to your client helps you really see their nervous system and see what's happening.

Dana: Because oftentimes during processing, there's a lot of nonverbal cues that come up. And if you're not attuned to your client, you might miss that. And, and be able to really help someone get to where they need to go. So I think that the, a core component of EMDR therapy is [00:31:00] the therapist being in a regulated state and being able to stay present enough and observe what's happening with the client and going from there.

Dana: I think it's so important because You know, I'm doing consultation for so many years now with other EMDR therapists, like one of the jokes I make all the time is everybody gets stuck on the NC. Why? Because therapists are trained in cognitive models. Solves it, but am I getting the right NC? Who gives a shit?

Dana: Like, what's their body doing? Don't worry about that. Yeah, so getting out of our own heads and just getting into that, you know, that intersubjective space between client and therapist is really, really important. 

John: It's interesting, you know, your answer, um, Surprised me in a delightful way, because I think you're right.

John: And for me, EMDR was the first like protocol protocol that I ever learned where literally I'm doing a session and I'm looking [00:32:00] at this darn piece of paper that has the protocol on it. And I just learned it two days ago. Right. And so a part of me is pretty scared about screwing this up or missing a step.

John: Right. And also. Like I mentioned, all the therapists in my group practice are trained in EMDR and a lot of them get trained as they get hired and so it's brand new and this anxiety of following it step by step or perfectly or losing my place means they end up getting caught staring at their. piece of paper when something's happening with the client, right?

John: And they kind of forget that they're a therapist first, um, or to really adapt the protocol to what's happening in the room or to that specific client. And that's something that I've like taken on my own and having done EMDR for years is I kind of have my own way of doing it, which in a way feels anti EMDR and anti like there's all these protocols coming out now and everyone has a protocol and there's.

John: I think there's some like obsession with that. And some people groups 

Dana: all the time. Is there a protocol for this 

John: fear of dogs? Like 

Dana: that's called anxiety. Standard protocol applies. Yeah. It's Francine Shapiro's, you know, the founder of EMDR therapy never intended for EMDR to be a structured set of protocols and phasesDana: She meant it to be. A way to conceptualize cases, a way to conceptualize symptoms and a client and what they're struggling with. And that's why I love Laura Parnell's work. You know, she's really attachment focused EMDR because, you know, watching her videos and stuff. I say to my staff all the time, we're all EMDR trained here.

Dana: And when we watch her stuff, we're like, Oh, you do all these things as a therapist. as an EMDR therapist and watching her do it is like, Oh, you do that too? Oh my God. Okay. So it is a thing. Like I'm not going off script here. It's just attuning to your client, which is good therapy. 

John: Yeah. And you know, what's funny is, um, you know, years ago when I got trained in clinical hypnosis and I used to do a lot of clinical hypnosis and I know that a one reason why it works is because it actually works.

John: Another reason why. Is because I have a strong belief that it's going to work and when clients come to me and back then, you know, I had, I had someone with a, you know, a phobia, a fear of vomiting and treated her in one session again, in part because hypnosis works in part because my belief that this would work and help her was so high and she was ready to let it go.

John: She was ready. To work through this fear, right? Same thing of someone who's really ready to work through their trauma, right? And, and, and move past it. Um, or whatever, really ready to heal. Um, and some people are not, they think they are and they show up and then maybe they're not, or maybe they get freaked out, right?

John: Or maybe. The therapist does go too fast or whatever it might be. But I find the same to be true with EMDR. And when I had a pretty [00:35:00] good hand on the model and my belief in it was really high, even if I wasn't doing the model perfectly, my clients were getting better, right? And, and some of them in as little as a, as a few sessions of EMDR, where they had had years of, again, traditional.

John: Talk therapy and not a lot of progress. So my belief in it is still high. And I really tell my clinicians like, yes, learn the protocol, like yes, learn the steps, but also really get clear on your belief in this model and your belief in really going back to just being a therapist, your ability as a therapist to be.

John: therapeutic to be attuned to be, you know, um, be present. 

Dana: Yeah. Yeah. The biggest thing that, you know, the biggest difference between like talk therapy or cognitive models versus EMDR is, you know, with something like CBT, it's. The therapist is the agent of change for the client versus with EMDR, the client's nervous system is the agent of change.

Dana: It's their own nervous system doing the work. We're just, the therapist is [00:36:00] just the conductor, so to speak, keeping the train on the tracks. And so that's what I tell clients is that, you know, this is you doing the work. I'm just guiding you there, but. As long as you're willing to go there. I know, I know it works.

Dana: I believe in it, right? And that's a huge part, like you said, but it's also there. Their willingness to do it and, you know, a lot of people are like, Oh, this isn't going to work for me. I've tried so many other things is can you believe enough to try? Yeah, 

John: yes. And what I've learned is the way that I pitch it, even let's say for a client who hasn't heard of EMDR, same way I would pitch hypnosis, which is with a very open hand of, Hey, there's this thing we could try.

John: I see you getting stuck on this memory or on this. Fear or whatever, um, we try this weird thing where you know Yeah, that in your mind and then you hold these weird tappers, right? And I'm willing for it to also not work and they see that that I'm not attached to it and [00:37:00] don't have a strong agenda about this 

John: Yeah, exactly. Like we've got other things we can try or whatever. And so the stakes are low In that regard, as I kind of set it up of like, can we get curious about what this is like and curious about how this goes and clients that have fears about EMDR of like, first of all, what if it taps into something I didn't know was there, which is a common fear, right?

John: Of memory, repressed memory, whatever. Um, or what if it's too much, you know, both understandable fears and, and what I tell them rather than like, Hey, it's not going to be too much. We're not going to find, you know, repressed memories because I don't know that. But what I do know is I'm going to be with you every step of the way.

John: Exactly. I totally hear that feeling. It makes a lot of sense that you're having those fears, um, and can we keep talking about those? And also, I'm reminding you that you have the break pedal, and so if we start getting into this work or into the reprocessing and you're like, dude, this is too much. Yeah. We work our way out of it.

Dana: yeah. Cause it's true. Like it's, you know, I tell clients like I'm, I'm not omniscient. If I did, I would be playing lotto numbers, not doing therapy. Right. 

Dana: it's, I don't know either. But we're gonna figure it out together. And that's huge for especially clients with that like attachment trauma of, you know, you went through traumatic experiences alone.

Dana: You don't have to go through the healing alone. And that's a big thing. You know, a lot of people are asking me, like, can you do EMDR by yourself? Like, we see that question all the time. There's programs that Claim you could do EMDR by yourself at home. I wouldn't recommend them because you don't want to go through that alone.

Dana: Because for some people who went through the trauma alone, that could actually just be re traumatizing. Yeah. 

John: I would agree. I wouldn't, I wouldn't recommend it. Um, and I think healing happening in the context of A relationship in this case, relationship with your therapist, um, that you, that you trust, um, is, is crucial.

John: Um, yeah, absolutely. 

Dana: I like to say to some clients who ask like, well, you could learn how to do open heart surgery on yourself, but would you, or would you want somebody who has all the skills and the training and the compassion to sit with you while you go through it together? Yeah. 

John: Well, you, you've given me more Instagram clips than I could have asked for so far, and so I'm, I've already embedded you, but 

Dana: you have my number.

Dana: You can always let me know  when you need me.

John: Can you just record like 17 seconds for me of pure gold? Um, we got like, you know, maybe five minutes left. Um, what do you feel like is, is unsaid so far with this conversation or anything you want to make sure folks hear today?

John: As we start wrapping up, what is unsaid?

Dana: That's a good question. Um, I think the biggest thing for like clients to [00:40:00] take away with this, you don't have to have it all figured out before you call a therapist. You wouldn't be calling a therapist if you had it all figured it out. All you have to know is you're struggling and you need help figuring out not just why, but you need help.

Dana: You know, getting to that deeper level, that body work, that somatic piece, you need someone to hold space for you so you can feel safe enough to go there. And so it's not, yeah, not have it all figured out. And EMDR is not like a holy grail. It's the only thing that works. You know, we see all the time clients ask, like, does it work for this?

Dana: Does it work for that? Like with like ADHD, for example, right? You know, ADHD is a neurological condition. It doesn't help. That, but it can help with secondary things like experiences that have affected you because of your ADHD. Or like bipolar traumatic memories that you have, like [00:41:00] shame and things like that, but things that may have, might've happened when you were manic, it can help with that.

Dana: Yeah. So of understanding what it can help with and what it can't. 

John: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's great. I mean, one benefit of there being so much information in the world now, or even again, someone being able to discover. EMDR, like through a TickTock clip is clients often come in with some knowledge of it. Um, and there's also a downside to that too, that they come in with just partial knowledge about this thing, or they have, they, I feel like, uh, this is going to be the magic fix for my life.

John: Or again, in reality, it's like, if, if this piece of the trauma work is in place, what other pieces are there, right? Whether it's, um, uh, the drinking or the cutting or the binging or the relationships, right? Or the health issues, whatever it might be. So really looking at the client holistically, I think is crucial.Dana: The whole picture is so important. 

John: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. Yeah. Yeah. Um, yeah. I can't thank you enough for doing this. Of course, I want you to let folks know how they can learn more about you, follow along, get in touch and the offerings you have right now for your work. 

Dana: Yeah, absolutely. So I own and operate an EMDR focused practice called Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling and we're licensed to see clients in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida.

Dana: Um, so they can just. go to our website, peaceful living, mental health counseling. com or for more information about me, you can go to two R's two T's. Um, everybody always leaves out a T somewhere and that has tons of information about the individual consultation that I offer to other EMDR therapists as well as all information about EMDR.

Dana: That's, um, Also on my, my Instagram and my TikTok, which is at the underscore EMDR underscore coach. So the EMDR coach is where you can find all that info on [00:43:00] my books. I'm going to have some online courses coming out soon. So all of those things, basically all things trauma informed care.

John: So cool. Yeah, we'll obviously put links to everything in the description.

John: Whether people are listening or watching on YouTube. Um, it's also crazy, you know, just kind of finishing where we started Dana, just how far you've come with all this. It's crazy, right? All your years ago. Yeah. I mean, you've just really established such a great business with your actual practice and also this kind of online brand you have, this personal brand you have with EMDR and trauma and everything you're putting out.

John: So I congratulate you on that and keep doing it. I'm proud 

Dana: of the fact that I'm close to you because you taught me a lot about brand. And all of those things, like I remember so many of our conversations from those conference rooms in Michigan, um, all, all of the things. And so like, I, I very much think of you all the time because I owe a lot of that to you.

John: That's too nice. Yeah. I just see it as [00:44:00] if more therapists could get online and talk about what they know, more people can get help and can suffer less. And so, That's how I kind of see it. You know, like the branding stuff, the marking stuff, the content is just really like a medium to helping people, which is what all you and I have ever wanted to do, right?

John: As therapists.

Dana: I always tell like other therapists I work with, if people don't know you're there, how can you help them? So really speaking to what you really love to do and the person who clicks with your message I mean like they'll find you and amazing things can happen 

John: Totally. Yeah, and that connection that personal connection can happen through a piece of content and there's kind of someone for everyone out there.

John: So That's great. Um, thank you again, Dana. I so appreciate your time and, um, we'll have you back sometime for sure. Absolutely. 

Dana: I would love that.

John: Thanks again. Thanks for listening to another episode of going inside. If you enjoyed this episode, please like, and subscribe wherever you're [00:45:00] listening or watching and share your favorite episode with a friend.

John: You can follow me on TikTok @JohnClarkeTherapy and apply to work with me one on one at See you next time.

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