Friday, April 28, 2023

Learn About EMDR for PTSD


Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) 

This amazing information is from the EMDR Institute, found online at, and EMDR is an evidence-based treatment widely available to treat PTSD. It is an eight-phase treatment that focuses attention on three distinct time periods: the past, present, and future. Sessions often last between 60-90 minutes. 

The eight-phases include: 

History-taking: In this phase, the therapist obtains a detailed history of the client’s past memories and current struggles. During this phase, the therapist will try and identify targets for the EMDR processing (these can be distressing memories or incidents). 

Client preparation: This is where the client learns techniques for active healing trauma processing. The therapist will go over strategies, suggest relaxation techniques, and other coping strategies that can help their client deal with emotional distress and maintain improvements as the sessions progress. 

Assessment: In this phase, the client is asked to picture an image closely related to the target memory and to elicit the negative response and beliefs associated with the memory. The client is also asked to identify a positive belief that they would like to believe instead. 

Desensitization: The therapist ask their client to focus on a specific memory, belief, or emotional trigger while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation (BLS). BLS consists of alternating right and left stimulation, whether it’s tapping of the toes or tapping on the shoulders. It can also include audio or visual stimulation with the use of light. This stimulation may include eye movements, taps, or tones. 

It is believed that BLS used in EMDR activates both hemispheres of the brain, which is believed to have a soothing effect, dim the intensity of the memory while allowing the client space to process it without an overwhelming psychological response. This continues until that memory is no longer triggering for the client. 

Installation: With the help of the therapist, this is where the client starts to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Continuing to review the triggering memory with BLS, the client is asked to assess the emotional response and rate it against the positive belief (brought up during the assessment phase) they would prefer to associate it with.  

Body scan: Here, the client is assessed for changes in body sensations when thinking of the negative incident and positive thought. Any remaining tension in the body is targeted by the therapist for additional processing. 

Closure: Client’s will be asked to write down any thoughts or emotions that arise during the coming week, and will be reminded of the self-soothing techniques they learned during the session to process any negative thoughts that may surface. 

Reevaluation: This phase is to review and/or assess for other targets that cause distressing emotion within the chosen memory. 

EMDR is one of the treatments available for PTSD, and there are several great options. Don’t stress out about which treatment to choose. Most cognitive-behavior therapies for PTSD work by exposing clients repeatedly to anxiety-provoking stimuli, either in their imagination (imaginal exposure) or in real life (in vivo exposure). When exposure to either type is sufficiently prolonged, clients’ anxiety dissipates.

If we try one treatment for PTSD and it doesn’t work, we have others more to fall back on. If we try others and they don’t work, we may be dealing with Complex PTSD, treatment-resistant PTSD, or have co-occurring disorders to work through. Do not lose hope, this simply means we have a little more work to do with our treatment professional to come up with a more targeted course of action.

We value your feedback and ideas! Reach out on our Community Facebook Page!


If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

Friday, April 7, 2023

Finding a Therapist - The "How To"


This week, I spent time helping a reader find a mental health provider and I want to pass along the "how to" so you can help yourself or a loved one. 

The word “therapist” is a generic term for someone who conducts therapy with clients. Many mental health professionals fall into this category: licensed professional counselors (sometimes called licensed mental health counselors), licensed social workers, and licensed psychologists. I keep saying "licensed" with each of these because it is important to check a therapist's state license and ensure that it is valid. Each state requires mental health therapists to complete continuing education each year and therapists are beholden to state licensing boards. It is important to check our provider's license.

There are different levels of counseling/therapy: outpatient counseling is a standard weekly or bi-weekly office or telehealth appointment that is generally 50 minutes each week. Inpatient counseling is when we stay at a psychiatric facility for more intensive care. Intensive outpatient counseling is when we attend counseling several hours a day each week. 

Counseling can be done face to face or by telehealth. Both work. Telehealth is a great option because we don't have to travel and can complete many forms online ahead of our appointment. 

Most mental health professionals are licensed state by state in the U.S., which means that a licensed counselor in Texas cannot see a client in Washington state. BUT a counselor in Laredo CAN see a client in Houston - or McAllen, or Corpus Christi, or anywhere else in the state of Texas. This is especially important for telehealth; we can see a counselor anywhere in the state where we live, and that opens up possibilities. 

We can get a list of providers from our health insurance or use a listing service like or Psychology Today.

When calling offices to make an appointment, we need to know the following:

  1. Is the therapist taking new clients?
  2. Do they accept our health insurance?
  3. Can they address our specific mental health issues?
  4. When is an "intake" available?
Our initial call may sound like this:
"Hi, I am looking for weekly outpatient therapy for PTSD through telehealth. I have XYZ Health Insurance. Are you accepting new clients? If so, what is your first intake availability?"
An "intake" is the initial appointment with a provider in order to get your background information and create a plan together for your treatment. It is collaborative in nature and does not lock you in. 

I encourage you to call several providers. If you need immediate care or are feeling like you want to un-alive yourself, don't bother with this process: go straight to the emergency room or call the crisis line at 988. They will help you find a regular provider once you are feeling more stable. 

You deserve to recover and regain your life.


If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD