All Kinds of News for December 04, 2019
Optimum Performance Institute has been working for years with skilled practitioners in the community to provide our participants with bilateral, trauma treatment methods like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Now, for the first time, we have two licensed therapists on our staff who can provide this evidenced-based treatment in house. I asked Azra Mowlana and Elizabeth Weiner to talk more about EMDR in terms of their personal connection to the modality, and the specific benefits it offers in our residential setting.
Can you briefly describe your conceptualization of EMDR (process, intent) for our parents or families who may not be familiar with it?
Elizabeth: "I conceptualize EMDR as an intervention to stimulate the body/mind natural healing process. Just as a skin wound can heal with treatment; the mind also has a healing process. When it is interrupted, often due to trauma responses, the mind requires treatment to initiate the healing process again.
Our minds are set up like a filing cabinet. Since we are learning creatures, we file away pertinent data in our minds each night when we enter into REM sleep. We discard additional non-essential data like sensory stuff (e.g. smells and sounds). If we experience a traumatic event, our filing system is disrupted and we can default to storing all the data.
This can lead to PTSD symptoms where seemingly harmless stimuli can trigger an overwhelming response. EMDR allows the mind a chance to “re-file” the data from a disruptive memory without having all of the triggering material and negative cognitions included."
Azra: "A big part of EMDR, also, is the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model which targets past, present, and future situations - the treatment targets past traumatic experiences, current triggers, and possible future situations that may be challenging. Through fully reprocessing past, present, and future targets clients are not only able to move past traumatic experiences, they often have increased self-worth and sense of their own resiliency."
What inspired you to become EMDR certified?
Azra: "I saw amazing results from clients, colleagues, and friends."
Elizabeth: "Talk therapy has limitations. Awareness and insight do not always lead to symptom reduction. EMDR as an evidenced based treatment can produce real tangible change in (sometimes significantly) less time and I find that possibility very exciting!"
Who do you think is the ideal candidate for EMDR?
Elizabeth: "Most individuals can benefit to some degree, however, the ideal candidate would be an individual who has had one or more major life events which led to a significant change in overall well-being."
Azra: "It's also helpful that they have good grounding skills (mindfulness, ability to self-soothe, hobbies) which can be a lot of the prep work for EMDR."
What specific/relevant benefits do you think EMDR offers our OPI participants?
Azra: "Often our clients intellectually have the answers and insight to their problems, however, emotionally they get “stuck.” EMDR can help bridge that gap. Clients can downplay their past and neglect those "little t" traumas but something is keeping them stuck. Things like minor embarrassments, social isolation, and even a history of being in treatment can inform the challenges that prevent them from launching into independence."
Elizabeth: "Specifically in relationship to Borderline Personality Disorder; attachment wounds can also be addressed with EMDR and this can lead to a real shift in self perception. Reprocessing memories which are in some way associated with a sense of being 'bad', 'outcast', or 'worthless' can lead to more rational and self-concept such as 'normal', 'human', or 'essentially good' "
Do you have any personal or professional “success” stories you would like to share?
Elizabeth: "I am in awe of the speed with which young minds can heal as they have not yet been impacted by years of years of maladaptive defense mechanisms. When working with one young lady who had not been “quite the same” after her grandfather and her family dog passing in the same year; I found that only six EMDR sessions led to a complete turnaround in her sense of safety in the world and therefore in her ability to trust herself and others. She was able to return to enjoying school, friends, and family again."
Azra: "Part of EMDR training is practicing the protocol with other clinicians who are strangers and who you have no rapport with. Due to the model being very much about the brain healing itself, I was amazed at the transformations I experienced and witnessed within hours. As a clinician, I have had the pleasure of witnessing a client heal from an incident of sexual trauma in two sessions. Even she was amazed with the short amount of time and significant progress. Furthermore, she reports increased self-esteem and joy, and we have not completed all of her trauma targets. In addition to this client, I have witnessed other clients who have been in residential treatment for years, and EMDR is the only thing that has helped alleviate symptoms. I do not think its the cure all, however, in combination with other supports, it can improve long term results for our clients."
About Optimum Performance Institute
Optimum Performance Institute (OPI) was founded in 2003, is Joint Commission (JCAHO) accredited and located in the San Fernando Valley. OPI offers treatment focused on complex mental health diagnosis and challenges for young adults ages 17-28. Participants engage in real life experiences in an urban setting and work with a multidisciplinary team to forge the path to lasting independence.