Let’s demystify this special trauma therapy that so many people are talking about, “EMDR,” which stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.” We’re thrilled to offer this unique and super effective technique at PWH. Sam is fully certified, and uses EMDR with all of her clients because of its transformational power. EMDR actually rewires brain circuitry and permanently changes the way that we receive and filter information, for the better, by way of cleaning out and healing trauma wounds. It can be done in-person and virtually.

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What is EMDR?

When we experience traumatic or disturbing events—that is, something that causes our system to feel like it’s in danger—the bridge between the emotional part of our brain (limbic system) and the reasoning/logical part (neocortex) collapses due to a traffic jam of information. So, the logical part of the brain goes offline and the memory stays stuck in the emotion center. We are meaning-making beings, so when something feels so awful or inexplicable, we make ourselves active in the narrative, which makes us feel more in control—beliefs like, “If I had been good enough…” or “If I hadn’t put myself in that situation…it wouldn't have happened,” "I'm a bad person," "I'm broken," "I'm not safe," "I don't deserve good things," "I'm too much," "I'm a failure," "I'm stupid..." play on repeat. We blame ourselves, even when it wasn’t our fault and really had nothing to do with us at all. But it gives us the illusion of being able to control the future by making different choices.

When we experience anything moving forward that reminds our nervous system of that emotionally charged event, the old feelings, body sensations, and negative self-beliefs get reactivated, and you feel like the original wounding event is happening again right now.  

EMDR rebuilds that bridge so we can link helpful, adaptive information you know to be true in the safety of the present moment, with the negative material from the past that didn’t get to be integrated properly. We move it back to long-term memory storage, but without the emotional charge, so that it's not going to punch you in the face anymore. 

We can’t modify what’s going on in the emotion center of the brain with just "talk therapy" because talking lives in the logic center of the brain, and in the case of stuck points, the connection between them is down. But once it has access, the brain knows how to untangle the stuck points and reweave the threads together smoothly.

EMDR includes re-processing memories, along with “bilateral stimulation”—or side-to-side eye movements or back-and-forth tapping against our bodies. There's something about side-to-side stimulation that helps us process things. For example- during REM sleep, we process the most information we do all day, including what was too overwhelming to process while we were awake. That’s what happening during dreams.

EMDR clears out the glitches, ironing out memories by fully integrating them. After we do that, the memory feels over and in the past. This helps you to process new information and file new memories in a more helpful, accurate way moving forward. In other words, EMDR creates new neural networks to be able to process things in an adaptive way now. 

>>>The goal is to complete the nervous system's stress response that's getting reactivated, clear the memory out, and add adaptive information to it, so that you can more easily discover who you are and how you actually deserve to be treated.

What does an EMDR session look like?

Early EMDR sessions are centered around history-taking, identifying your specific goals, gathering of strengths and positive things in your life, learning inner resourcing coping strategies, taking stock in ones you already have, and then uncovering a roadmap of memories that are all connected.

When we begin reprocessing memories, we bring up an image, the negative belief about yourself that goes along with it, the feelings, body sensations, and distress it activates, and then we desensitize and prompt you to notice your way through the memory and whatever stands out in your awareness, while tracking your eyes side to side or tapping your hands against your body (or holding tappers). At various points, I prompt you to pause and tell me what you’re noticing at that moment. I encourage you to let whatever happens happen, including any pent-up emotions that have been lodged deep inside, to come out and be released. I talk as little as possible while all of this is happening, allowing you to discover your own insights that are already within you!

Once we bring your distress level all the way down, we install a positive belief that feels empowering, so that it becomes linked up with the memory instead of the negative one, and we foster space to allow your body sensations to neutralize and relax. Some memories take one session and others may take 2-3 sessions. Either way is totally fine, as you will continue to naturally reprocess in between sessions as well.

What's the difference between EMDR and hypnosis?

In hypnosis, you’re in an altered state of consciousness. In EMDR, you’re fully in the room with me, and have a dual-awareness. I’m asking you to notice and observe what comes up in your mind, like you’re on a train noticing what you see out the window as the train pulls into the station. Things will happen, but you will know that it’s not happening to you right now in the present moment. You can stop at any time—you are in full control.

How long does EMDR take?

In my experience, to see tangible results, it takes at least 6 months-1 year, depending on our starting point, your goals, how focused we stay on this process, and how frequently we meet. I see most people make massive change in 1-2 years, seeing and experiencing themselves differently, for the better. I always recommend starting out meeting weekly, and then we decide when it feels right to space sessions out.

 *20 minutes of EMDR reprocessing accomplishes what say, 6 months of talk therapy might. And the change is permanent.*

Client Feedback

"Finding Sam has really changed my life including my emotional, mental and physical health. I have been working with her and doing EMDR sessions for over a year now. I never thought I would be able to reprocess so much trauma that has caused me to live in a state of baseline anxiety for years. EMDR has made such a difference in how I feel day to day and my body’s reaction to various stressors. Even long term GI issues like IBS have improved because I am able to deal with stress better. I really didn’t know how good I could feel! She also gives you so many tools and “tricks” that I feel well equipped to use to handle daily stress, life, and family issues. As a healthcare provider myself I cannot recommend her enough."


Looking for a trained EMDR Therapist licensed in NJ or NY? Let’s chat! I’d love to get to know you, your goals for healing, and relay how I can help. 

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Monmouth County, NJ