Lori Kucharski, MA, LMFT, LPC
 (719) 360-2440

EMDR Center of the Pikes Peak Region, LLC

EMDRIA-Certified Therapy, Consulting, & Training
AAMFT-Approved Supervision

​​EMDR Therapy

Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is based upon the Adaptive Information Processing Model created by Dr. Francine Shapiro. It has gained consistent exposure over the last couple of decades as continued evidence supports its highly-effective use in therapy. 

It has been effectively used to treat:
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Acute Stress Disorder
  • Phobias
  • Developmental trauma from childhood
  • Military trauma
  • Addictions and substance abuse
  • Eating Disorders, including bingeing
  • Vicarious trauma in the helping professions
  • Vicarious trauma in first-responders
  • Panic Disorders
  • Agoraphobia
  • Depression (with PCP oversight)
  • Adoption-related issues
  • School or job performance
  • Family dysfunction
  • Post-traumatic issues, not otherwise specified​

EMDR is a neurologically-based therapy. It focuses on past and present experiences and helps the brain heal for future experiences. When trauma happens, the different parts of our brains aren’t "talking" to one another effectively, and even if we know better, we don't feel it. For example, we may logically or rationally know we're safe, but our emotional mind doesn't feel it. The past and the present "minds" aren't communicating effectively, so to speak. The amygdala and the thalamus (parts of the brain that assist in fight-or-flight) are overactive, and the prefrontal cortex isn't able to do its job of regulating the amygdala. This overactivation of the amygdala takes precident over all other functions, including the hippocampus' ability to evaluate and index situations. This is why it's sometimes hard to retain information and learn things when you're constantly stressed, and this is how PTSD is thought to occur. The problem is that you cannot stay hyper-alert constantly, and at some point, your mind begins to dissociate. The good news is that processing unresolved traumatic memories allows us to decide what is important and let go of the rest. 

Through EMDR Therapy, the thalamus re-regulates, the brain becomes synchronized at GAMA 40 hz, and the various parts are working together or are "re-integrated." You know it's working because you don't forget what happened, but it is no longer as distressing. You still care, but if your distress level around certain memories or triggers was a 9-10 on a scale of 0-10, let's say, now it's significantly less. Another way to look at it is that, if hypothetically troubling memories or nightmares were plaguing you frequently before, they've gone from being "in color" 7 days a week to "in black and white" 1-2 days a week. Ideally, you want them to not bother you at all anymore, period, but this could take some time, and a lot of relief is better than no relief. The more recent the trauma, the more likely the odds are that it can be helped quickly. For example, I've had clients have significant success after 1-2 sessions for recent traumatic events. Ongoing childhood trauma, though, can understandably take much longer. 

Francine Shapiro, PhD, the founder of EMDR Therapy, explains it as:

The unconscious is really composed of stored memories of previous experience that guide us automatically. These include unprocessed memories of earlier events that contain the emotions, physical sensations, beliefs, and behaviors that arise in the present. These memories are the cause of stuck experiences. Identifying those earlier memories allows us to see the parallels between past and
present experiences.

Shapiro’s Adaptive Information Processing Model of EMDR is well-explained by Dean A. Dickerson, PhD:

"The 'unconscious' is really composed of stored memories of previous experience that guide us automatically.  These include unprocessed memories of earlier events that contain the emotions, physical sensations, beliefs (and behaviors) that arise in the present. These memories are the cause of the emotional symptoms, negative behaviors, unpleasant thoughts and body sensations.  Identifying those earlier memories allows us to see the parallels between past and present experiences. Processing those memories allows us to learn what is useful and to let go of the rest."

EMDR Helps with Unresolved Trauma. 

I often hear from clients, “I didn’t realize that was traumatic. It didn’t seem like a big deal.” or, “Other people had it so much worse.”

It may not feel like unresolved trauma has a lasting effect, but it does.

Unprocessed trauma, especially in childhood, leads to neurological disrupt; which leads to social, emotional, and cognitive impairment; which leads to health risks; which leads to disease, disability, and social problems, and even early death (CDC, 2016).

Unresolved trauma, even stemming from childhood, has been linked to many physical ailments. The CDC estimates that about 65% of the population reports at least 1 adverse childhood experience, and as the number of adverse experiences in childhood increases, so do the following:

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Depression
  • Fetal death
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Poor work performance
  • Financial stress
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Risk for sexual violence
  • Poor academic achievement

A holistic approach to wellness increases vitality, healthy relationships, and a sense of well-being.

Treating all of the aspects of a person helps lower health risk, and increases likelihood that risks will remain low.
Please do not hesitate--seek help today.

For more information on EMDR, its benefits, and its uses, please visit www.EMDRIA.org.​

© Lori Kucharski, 2017