Therapy in L.A.

  article of the month

October 2009

by Carol Boulware, Ph.D

EMDR is an acronym for a new psychotherapeutic technique called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. When people suffer from trauma, it often ties into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is the time when we process out daily emotions. Some trauma may be so painful, that the REM process rejects it. EMDR is an intensified version of REM, developed to handle trauma in its most serious form. EMDR allows a client to process an emotional experience that he/she cannot yet talk about. Following an EMDR session, clients often find an ability to talk about the trauma freely. Most importantly, it can eliminate stress surrounding the traumatic event, with the purpose of allowing new life in the emotionally difficult memory.

How Does It Work?

The therapist works gently with the client and asks him/her to revisit the traumatic moment or incident, recalling feelings surrounding the experience, as well as any negative thoughts, feelings and memories. The therapist then holds her fingers about eighteen inches from the client's face and begins to move them back and forth like a windshield wiper. The client tracks the movements as if watching ping pong. The more intensely the client focuses on the memory, the easier it becomes for the memory to come to life. As vibrant images arise during the therapy session, they are processed by the eye movements, resulting in painful feelings being exchanged for more peaceful, loving and resolved feelings.

What are the Symptoms that can be helped by EMDR?

· High anxiety and lack of motivation
· Depression
· Memories of a traumatic experience
· Fear of being alone
· Unrealistic feelings of guilt and shame
· Difficulty in trusting others
· Relationship Problems

What is the History of EMDR?

Since the initial medical study in 1989, positive results with EMDR have been reported with the following populations:
· People who have witnessed or been a victim to a disaster such as rape, accidents, earthquakes, fires, murder, gang related violence
· Clients suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
· Sufferers of phobias, panic disorders and anxiety attacks
· Chemically dependent clients
· Persons exposed to multiple losses
· Crime victims and police officers who were once overcome with violent memories
· Accident or burn victims

Although a relatively new therapeutic technique, EMDR is meeting with much success all across the country. EMDR is a natural process. The client and the therapist become partners on a journey to help move traumatic and blocked energy. Together they work to transcend and free up the energy, so the client can return to their natural grounded state of being. The goal of this work is to help the client heal, so they can return to their life in peace.


Dr. Carol Boulware is a Psychotherapist and a Certified EMDR Therapist practicing in Santa Monica and Redondo Beach. She is a member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network. Contact Dr. Boulware at (310) 395-3351 or Her website is

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