What is EMDR and Can It Really Help?

To be fully transparent, I thought Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) was a load of crap for a really long time. I mean, just look at the name, Eye Movement Desensitization, what the heck does that even mean? How is moving my eye’s around going to heal my panic or trauma? Let’s get real here! Sounded like another fast fix promise meant to prey on people in pain.

BUT…One year, close to my birthday (that’s when all our yearly training requirements are due) I realized I still needed to take more training courses to meet my annual requirements. The only course that fit my schedule was an introduction to Mindfulness and EMDR. “Ugh,” I thought.

Turns out, everything is always as it should be. I got to experience first-hand the fast and immediate benefits of EMDR. We did a simple practice exercise in the training. Going through the protocol on an insignificant frustration allowed me to let go of a frustration and wound I didn’t even know existed, least of all how significantly it was impacting my daily life! Each day after that was brighter, easier, and more peaceful for me. I literally felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders (and for those of you who know me, know I not the rainbows and optimistic type). This was truly an amazing experience.

So, naturally I sought out my own EMDR therapist to see if it really worked or if it was a fluke. I needed to know I didn’t drink the EMDR Kool-Aid. “Had to be a fluke, right?” “Eyes moving, still sounded silly to me.” But low and behold, it was not. Next thing I did, was sign up to become an EMDR therapist. Extensive training later, I can officially say I drank the Kool-Aid and am honored to be part of the club.

So you are still probably wondering…

WHAT THE HECK IS EMDR?

EMDR is a form of therapy that allows you to deeply heal from symptoms of emotional distress. This type of deep healing is often believed to take years of processing and talk therapy. Repeated studies have shown that by using EMDR therapy you can have the same benefits as years of other forms of treatment.

EMDR was originally used to treat clients suffering from trauma and has proven to be the most effective method of treating PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It has since been proven to be an effective treatment for anyone with anxiety, eating disorders, phobias, relationship issues, depression, grief, addiction, and more.

During EMDR sessions, the therapist uses bilateral stimulation (right/left eye movement) to stimulate both sides of the brain. The theory is that this continual movement releases traumatic or emotional experiences that reside in the nervous system. This then taps into the mind/body connection, allowing you to heal both emotional and physical symptoms simultaneously.

Many people like EMDR because they can begin to process experiences or feelings they aren’t able to easily talk about.

WHAT ABOUT SKILLS? DON’T I STILL NEED THEM?

Absolutely! EMDR is a therapy that allows clients to heal from past negative experiences and core belief systems that are holding them back, similar to CBT. However, it often is combined with other forms of therapy to meet your individual needs as the client. For example, EMDR can be combined with CBT or DBT. Many times panic, depression, anxiety, or PTSD can prevent you from learning the day to day coping skills and interpersonal skills that are needed to be effective in your daily life.

If this sounds like something that would benefit you or you want to learn more contact us today to schedule your free consultation!

SMART PHONES: FRIEND OR FOE?

Teens today are growing up in a different world than any of the generations before them. They are the first generation to be born with Smart technology already completely in existence. Even the millennials to some extent grew up as the technology advanced. Though tech is always advancing, for the iGens internet, apps, FaceTime, and more have been at their fingertips from birth. I have watched my 2-year-old niece know how to unlock a cell phone and by 3 know how to use YouTube for kids.

There is a growing mountain of research that shows a correlation between the rise of smartphone usage and rates of depression, suicidality, and anxiety in teens. The pressure of always being connected to your social life doesn’t allow teens time to relax and decompress after school. Not to mention that social media is not an accurate representation of a teens social world. The pressure to “fit in” or be “perfect” is unrealistic (but I could probably fill a page on social media alone). So the downside of smartphones/technology seems overwhelming apparent:

  • Social media pressures
  • Seemingly unavoidable access to damaging or dangerous apps
  • Argument inducer between teen and parent
  • Increases rates of depression and anxiety/decreases ability to cope
  • Can be addictive

However, nothing is ever one-sided, there are positive aspects of smartphones. There are apps that help with mental health issues and teach coping skills. Many of them are FREE: Calm, Moodpath, SuperBetter, and Happify for example. There are also apps that help you as parents organize your life, which can make things less stressful. As a parent of a teen this can make a big difference. I personally use apps tracking grocery lists and weekly recipes, such as Yummly or Anylist. Taking as much work out of chores as possible is a lifesaver in any busy household. Teens often feel the same way, they use apps to help them study and organize their school/homework.

Sometimes, I think to myself, I wish there was app to make me want to work-out or stop me from eating sweets late at night. However, that is some of the downside again. Smartphones can do so much for us we stop practicing doing things for ourselves. That is where parenting comes in. Not only do the iGens, your teens, have it harder now than ever, as parents so do you. You have to set limits around screen time. You have to teach them how to wait and be patient; how to feel distress, how to fail and how to succeed. You have to teach them how to be in the moment not just take pictures of the moment, how to have a conversation not IM in code, how to enjoy activities and relax not just engage screen time to distract.

I was talking to one of the parents I work with the other day who stated that she feels that kids shouldn’t have phones until at least 7th grade. I don’t know that would ever happen. Kids today often have smartphones in elementary school. Then I heard about this school cell phone pilot program in Boston:

At the City on a Hill Circuit Street charter school in Boston, students entering school in the morning are met by administrators fanned out at the front door with their hands out. One by one, they take students’ phones, slip them into a soft pouch, and lock them closed with a snap that works like the security tags you find on clothing at department stores. Students take their pouched phones back, but can only unlock them with a special device at dismissal time, nearly eight hours later. 

Naturally, the students were outraged. How could this be happening? How can they live without their phones? How will they socialize? Connect? Communicate?

However, much to their surprise it turned out to freeing for them. Forced freedom!

One student reported that” she doesn’t reach for her phone as much anymore because if you don’t feed the habit; the habit eventually slows.” Students reported having more conversations and paying attention more in class.

Smartphones are a part of our lives. There is no way around that. As parents you can help your teen learn to not feel tethered to their phone. Ironically, there are apps that help limit screen time.

If you need help support your teen with screen time or other parenting issues I can help. Contact us to schedule your parent screening today!

3 SIGNS YOUR TEEN MAY BE DEPRESSED AND 3 WAYS TO HELP THEM

Teen depression rates are rising. You probably see on the news or in your social media feeds posts about teen suicide. This isn’t meant to scare you, but to inform you. Teenagers today are struggling with overwhelming emotions. They are facing unrealistic pressure and expectations of trying to the best. They often need help learning how to recognize and understand what they are feeling. Let’s talk about signs of when you may need to help your teen manage their emotions.Teen depression rates are rising. You probably see on the news or in your social media feeds posts about teen suicide. This isn’t meant to scare you, but to inform you. Teenagers today are struggling with overwhelming emotions. They are facing unrealistic pressure and expectations of trying to the best. They often need help learning how to recognize and understand what they are feeling. Let’s talk about signs of when you may need to help your teen manage their emotions.

Sign 1

Social Withdrawal This is typically an indicator a parent will notice when their teen doesn’t want to social with their peers. Some teens withdrawal from some but not all friends. This is a good time to ask them what is going on. Remember to be validating and role model understanding. Depending on how they answer will determine your next steps. If there is a barrier you may want to seek outside support such as counseling.

Sign 2

Increased and Unexplained Aches and Pains  Depressed teen often complains of not feeling well. Common aliments include headaches and stomach aches. It is important to take them to their primary care physician to rule out any medical causes. Depression can lead to physical complaints that may impact school and social avoidance.

Sign 3

Irritable or Angry I know you are thinking isn’t every teen moody, but that’s not entirely accurate. While the brain is still developing impacting their mood shifts, the type of irritability and anger I am referring to is yelling, fighting, rage, cursing, or property destruction. Depression in teenage boys may look different than girls, boys may be more outward destructive behaviors. They may appear more oppositional and get involved with the wrong crowd, while girls may become more withdrawn.
Let’s talk about ways can help!

3 Ways to Help Them

1. Make face time a priority

This may simple but for some it is harder than it sounds. Quality time can say “you are important and a priority.” Take time each day to be totally focused on your teen.

2. Limit Screen Time

More and more research is showing the negative impact screen time is having on mental health. Teens often go online, play video games, or watch YouTube to avoid dealing with their emotions. Social media also creates tremendous pressure for teens to be perfect, comparing themselves to perceived versions of others’ lives. This is a standard no one can live up to. Talk to your teens about the impact of social media. Have social media contracts or discuss online safety.

3. Get active with your teen

Exercise is a great mood booster. Ask your teen what they want to do. This is a great way to bond as well. Suggest activities such as sports or hiking or promote volunteering or being a mentor.

This blog reviewed some of the signs may indicate your teen is depressed. There are many more that you can find here. Observe your child, get to know them, monitor if they are off their baseline. Ask questions and keep the dialogue going.

IF YOUR TEEN NEEDS HELP DEALING WITH DEPRESSION, I’M HERE TO SUPPORT YOU.

Click here to schedule you FREE 15-minute consultation call so that we can connect and discuss the next best steps for your teen. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

DBT: FOR MORE THAN BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER

A key component of DBT is skills training. DBT has 4 modules of skills, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. Each module helps individuals develops skills to manage their emotions more effectively and develop improved quality of life. The skills training and treatment of DBT is applicable to people with a wide range of mental health conditions to improve overall well-being, emotion management, and decrease negative emotions and distress. Therefore, DBT treatment or DBT informed therapy may be beneficial for individuals with depressionanxiety, eating disorders, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Read the full article on Psych Central

HOW CAN DBT HELP MAINTAIN RELATIONSHIPS

Most communication today is done digitally, via instant messenger, texting, Snapchat, etc. In a world where communication is literally at our fingertips it can be hard to feel connected.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy or DBT offers an entire module to teaching skills to help with learning to communicate openly, more clearly, and in a meaningful way.

Read the full article on Psychreg