Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.
Who can benefit from EMDR therapy?
EMDR therapy helps children and adults of all ages. Therapists use EMDR therapy to address a wide range of challenges:
Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias
Chronic Illness and medical issues
Depression and bipolar disorders
Grief and loss
PTSD and other trauma and stress-related issues
Substance abuse and addiction
Violence and abuse
How is EMDR therapy different from other therapies?
EMDR therapy does not require talking in detail about the distressing issue or completing homework between sessions. EMDR therapy, rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process.
EMDR therapy is designed to resolve unprocessed traumatic memories in the brain. For many clients, EMDR therapy can be completed in fewer sessions than other psychotherapies.
How does EMDR therapy affect the brain?
Our brains have a natural way to recover from traumatic memories and events. This process involves communication between the amygdala (the alarm signal for stressful events), the hippocampus (which assists with learning, including memories about safety and danger), and the prefrontal cortex (which analyzes and controls behavior and emotion). While many times traumatic experiences can be managed and resolved spontaneously, they may not be processed without help.
Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create feelings of overwhelm, of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories, and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.
When I ask my clients if they have experienced trauma, often the answer is, “no.” Many individuals think of trauma within the lens of “Big T” traumas, or specific traumatic events. Some examples are those who have been exposed to war, terrorism, catastrophic events, and physical or sexual abuse. While not an exhaustive list, these are some of the most painful experiences an individual can experience during life. However, a person does not need to have experienced a specific event to experience the negative impact of trauma in their life.
Sometimes, an accumulation of distressing life events and beliefs in the form of “little t” traumas can produce a similar negative response in individuals. Some “little t” traumas can include interpersonal conflict, financial difficulties, abandonment or enmeshment, attachment wounds, breakups, moves, etc., resulting in pervasive negative beliefs about oneself or the world around them. The accumulation of these events is important to consider in their impact. Many individuals come to therapy due to this accumulation of “little t” traumas, often noting difficulty pinpointing what is distressing in particular, yet noting a feeling of powerlessness or unhappiness in life.
Whether you have experienced “Big T” or “little t” trauma there is hope in many treatment options. One modality that is helpful with both “Big T” and “little t” trauma is EMDR therapy. Sometimes, clients are unfamiliar with this modality. This short video gives a brief intro to EMDR, and how this treatment can help neutralize the distressing events, while helping the client connect to a more positive belief about themselves.
Wasatch Family Therapy is excited to announce this school year’s social skills group. This group is opened ended allowing kids to come into the group throughout the school year. There is a six session commitment, but children can stay longer, if needed. Groups are $50 per session, due at the time of the group. Please contact us at 801-944-4555 to register for the group.
Sex therapy is one area of mental health that
doesn’t always get talked about. Many
individuals feel hesitant to bring up sexual concerns with their therapist,
waiting until later in the therapy process to introduce the topic. Others misunderstand what sex therapy is, and
continue to struggle on their own.
What is sex therapy?
Sex therapy is therapy to improve sexual
functioning and treat sexual dysfunction.
Sex therapy can be done in individual and couples therapy.
What happens in sex therapy?
Just like other areas of therapy, in sex
therapy, the therapist will complete an intake process with the client to
gather information on the nature of the problem and begin to create a treatment
plan. This plan might include goals
about visiting with a medical doctor to rule out or diagnose medical issues.
Is sex therapy safe for my value system?
Just like other areas of therapy, your
therapist is trained to be respectful of and work within their client’s values
system. If you have any concerns that
the content of sex therapy might not fit within your values, talk to the
therapist up front. Talking about our
sexuality with a therapist can be a new experience, and that might feel
uncomfortable, but therapists want to make you feel as safe and at ease as
Will the therapist take sides?
The therapist’s job is not to prove one person
right and one person wrong, but to explore the history and nature of the
concern. The therapist will help the
couple or individual explore their beliefs and values surrounding sex,
identifying and helping to shift harmful or inaccurate beliefs, and provide
resources and educational materials. The therapist will create a safe,
supportive environment as the clients create new, value congruent, healthy
patterns of behavior.
What can a sex therapist help me with?
A sex therapist can provide support, education
and hope in creating sexual wholeness.
They can work with a broad range of sexual issues. Desire discrepancy (where one partner has a
higher or lower libido than the other), problematic sexual behaviors (particularly
compulsive, or what are sometimes referred to as addictive behaviors), LGBTQ
issues (orientation concerns, transitioning, or parenting), trauma, infidelity,
“sexless” marriages, orgasm concerns, ED/premature/delayed ejaculation, painful
intercourse, polyamory, kink, pornography concerns, or resolving
If you have been struggling with an area of
your sexuality or sexual relationships, but have been hesitant to talk about
it, schedule an appointment with Alice at 801-944-4555 today. Sexual health is an important aspect of good
mental health, and you do not need to suffer alone when there is hope and help
While it is perfectly healthy and effective in therapy to
disclose any personal information about your life to your therapist that you
desire, here are some things you do not want to be sharing with them:
Media Accounts: That’s right. Therapists are bound ethically not to have
any relationship with a client outside of the therapeutic one. Social media is
something you share with family, friends, and co-workers (maybe). You likely
don’t want your therapist seeing everything you post, and your therapist likely
doesn’t want you to see what they post in their private life. This could alter
the therapeutic setting. If your therapist has a professional or business
social media account, these are okay to follow, but not personal accounts.
The therapeutic relationship is a unique one, and for that reason, some clients
I work with feel a sense of gratitude and they want to communicate that. Some
clients feel the need to give a gift or “return the favor” in some way. I
always reassure my clients, the work we do together is not a favor, it is a
business arrangement and you already paid me. Therapists have an ethical
obligation not to accept gifts from their clients.
Your therapist should never be related to you, even if it isn’t by blood. This
comes back to that multiple relationships thing we talked about earlier under
number 1. People in your family already have opinions about you and a serious
investment in you. This would drastically impair their ability to be
therapeutic and your ability to feel the comfort of unbias. I would extend this
rule to close family friends or other significant people in your life.
to personal events: Though many people want to share the exciting and proud
moments of their lives with their therapist, this is best done verbally in
session. There is no need to invite your therapist to your wedding, baby
showers, graduation, or any other personal event in your life. Rather, come to
your next session with all the wonderful details you want them to hear about. They
will be happy to hear about it!
Yep, we’re going there. For most people, this is well understood. However, some
people feel very close and connected to their therapist and in rare cases start
to develop romantic feelings for them. Under no circumstances should a client
and therapist ever share intimate or romantic relations. For my professional
license, this boundary still stands if I am no longer seeing the client in
therapy. There are plenty of fish in the sea. Don’t even consider this one.
There is someone out there who will understand you and make you feel safe that
is not your therapist.
While all of these boundaries were written to the client,
therapists have the ultimate responsibility to make sure that healthy
boundaries are taking place in their practice. If your therapist has breeched
any of these boundaries with you, it is time to have a conversation with them,
and likely seek a new therapist.
Abuse is a tough topic to talk about, but it’s so important that we know signs to watch out for. While physical abuse is easy to identify, emotional abuse can be more subtle but can be just as damaging (while most everyone has mistreated their partner at times, we are talking about repeated and consistent behavior). Here are some signs of emotional abuse in marriage:
Every married couple has problems, so why is it that when we’re struggling in our marriages we can feel so alone? I recently sat down with the ladies of “Good Things Utah” to answer some marriage questions that viewers had written in. Perhaps some of them will mirror your own experiences.
As a teen growing up in Cache Valley, I loved summer. The outdoor possibilities were endless. However, I couldn’t understand why my mood took such a terrible hit in October and November. As an adult and many years later, I do now!
Do you dread the thought of winter? Its long nights and short, hazy, or foggy days? Does the thought of snow and cold make you long for the warmth of spring with its longer days and beautiful green grass?
If so, this blog is for you.
How to Beat Winter
Over the years I’ve noticed that many, many people struggle with their mood in winter. In fact, health care professionals have even created a term for it. That is, Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Here’s 5 solid ways to turn winter from your sworn enemy to your BFF.
Get Out of the House
Sitting in your home and lamenting winter from November through March isn’t going to help. In fact, it will only make you detest winter more. Definitely move your body!
Get To the Gym
Exercise during winter will help you fight the feeling of low energy and lethargy. You don’t have to be a gym rat to get a significant boost to your mood and motivation. Just be consistent and take it one easy/moderate/challenging workout at a time.
We all know the benefits of getting summer sun in moderation on our bodies. The sun promotes vitamin D development which enhances our mood. It stands to reason that if you hole up inside all winter your mood will take a significant hit. Get outside, even in January, to feel better.
Get Out of Dodge
While many of us would love to live in St. George or even Phoenix during the winter, that isn’t feasible for most. What is feasible is taking a vacation down south. Whether it’s St. George, Phoenix, or even Honolulu, definitely get of out Dodge. Your mood and motivation will love you for it!
Get To the Mountains
When the inversion season hits (and it will), most people find the weather intolerable. Want a solution? Simply get to the mountains. Getting above the inversion will revitalize you as the sun feels amazing. Whether it’s to ski, snowshoe, or just to drive to Park City, you’ll definitely feel a benefit when the sun warms your face.
A Parting thought
These five ways to change your thinking about winter will definitely help. Choose 2 of the 5 and do them consistently. You WILL feel a difference!
While this is a likely a subject for another blog post, eating healthier, getting adequate (don’t over do it!) sleep, and surrounding yourself with emotionally healthy people will also pay you wonderful winter benefits.
Michael Boman, LCSW is a therapist with 18+ years experience working with individuals, couples, and families. He is also a believer in exercise and taking care of oneself. He welcomes your comments.
We all experience forms of trauma at some point in our life. Some trauma is obvious and very serious. While other trauma can stem from minor events which we may not always classify as traumatic; such as, feelings of embarrassment during a presentation or public event. Both large and small traumatic experiences can resurface and manifest themselves in our lives as increased stress or anxiety. Sometimes individuals do not realize that the stress or anxiety actually stems from some form of trauma. So, how do we rewrite the traumatic events of our life? EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy, is one form of therapy that has been proven to be extremely effective in helping individuals overcome the negative effects of stress, anxiety, and trauma.
Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy may sound like a strange and scary form of therapy. You may have questions, like “What do eye movements have to do with therapy?” or, “I like my senses, what exactly does it mean to be desensitized?” While, I do have experience and expertise in facilitating EMDR therapy, I am not a scientist, or a doctor so I’ll leave it up to an expert to answer some of the more detailed questions. The following article provides an excellent overview of what EMDR is, and some of the more intricate details about how it works. This is a great starting place for individuals interested in EMDR or learning a little more about this form of therapy.
A while back, my garage was burglarized and my new mountain bike was stolen. I left that morning disgruntled, frustrated and very upset having had my garage broken into. It was fortuitous that I was going to EMDR training the day my bike was stolen. My colleague was able to use EMDR for my experience with my bike. Upon coming to training that day I was livid, so livid I had a difficult time being present. That afternoon during my brief EMDR treatment I started out resentful and angry. Funny enough, I left the session frustrated that I was not frustrated that my bike being stolen. EMDR had worked and I had been able to process through the event and overcome the negative emotions I likely would have felt.
If you, or someone you know, is interested in beginning EMDR therapy please contact me at 801-944-4555 to schedule an appointment to learn more.
Here is a list of some of my favorite recommendations for books and podcasts to help keep the therapy going outside of therapy. These books and podcasts cover a variety of topics, from brain and behavior, child care, depression, and mindfulness. I particularly like Tara Brach’s mindfulness podcasts, as she offers listeners a dose of humor along with insight, and guided meditation.