Kay Simmeth Counseling Group

Individual and Relational Counseling, EMDR Therapy and Consulting

EMDR Therapy: The important step to fully heal

EMDR Therapy for effective treatment of anxiety and depression

I recently came across this TV news clip from a station in Wisconsin. It is yet another great testimony to the effectiveness of EMDR Therapy in healing trauma and anxiety.

Key quote:

“Chris says EMDR therapy was the final, important step to fully heal.”



Common myths about EMDR

Recently I came across an article by Sarah Jenkins where she describes common myths about EMDR.  I have also heard these same issues raised as questions or concerns when discussing EMDR with prospective clients, and appreciate Sarah taking the time to respond to them.  Here are some highlights of the article:

EMDR Myths or TruthsMyth 1: EMDR is a new therapy.

As Sarah points out, next year will be the 25th anniversary of Dr. Francine Shapiro’s groundbreaking realization of the connection between physical movement and disturbing thoughts.  The fact that many are only now becoming aware of this treatment often leads to the assumption that it hasn’t been around very long.

Myth 2: EMDR is not research based.

Given the availability of direct access via the internet to research publications, this myth is easily dispelled. The research is accessible, and it’s increasing each year.

Myth 3: EMDR is just “wagging your fingers back and forth in front of a client.”

EMDR has a specific protocol that requires progression through successive stages.  Physical motion is but one aspect of the therapy, and should not be entered into without preparation.

Myth 4: EMDR is a one- to five-session therapy approach.

While EMDR often provides significantly quicker results that traditional talk therapy, each case needs to be treated individually.

Next Steps:

Are you suffering from fear, anxiety, or phobias and have not been able to make progress to overcome them?  You don’t need to live this way.  Help is available in the form of effective EMDR therapy.  I have seen it work for hundreds of clients and would love to discuss how we can work together to bring the change you need in your life.  Contact me today!

Are you a therapist who is interested in providing EMDR as modality for your clients?  As an EMDRIA Approved Certified Consultant I provide training and consultation in EMDR to clinicians.  Contact me to discuss.

EMDR Peak Performance Coaching: Living Into Your Best Self

One of the rewards of my work is seeing people break through blocks and barriers that have been holding them back for years. When my clients get that fresh opportunity for success, they can realize the goals they have set for themselves, whether it be career or personal goals.

Consider your own life goals and any barriers that might be holding you back from achieving them!

Peak Performance Coaching: Living Into Your Best Self

Back in 1875 when one of the first American-rules college football games was played, the British saw coaching as unsportsmanlike. While Harvard followed the British sporting ethos, Yale hired a coach for their college football team. In the first thirty years of play, Harvard beat Yale only four times.*

Peak Performance CoachingToday, we couldn’t imagine a high level athlete without the support of a coach, someone whose job is to make sure the athlete is playing at his or her peak ability. And watching the Olympics this last month we’ve seen the way years of personal training by renowned coaches have helped these athletes become the best in the world.

Most of us aren’t world-class athletes looking for ways to improve our game – we’re professionals and students, spouses and friends — individuals working to be successful in our work or family, church or social communities. And many of us have areas in our life where we seem to run into a mental glass ceiling, that barrier that keeps us from being our best selves.

The ability of a coach to view our performance from an outside perspective and offer suggestions for improving has value far beyond sports. Peak Performance coaching applies both coaching principals and the tools of EMDR therapy to any area of life where a person feels intimidated or encounters obstacles that make it difficult to move forward with success. The following story is an amalgamation from several of my own experiences using Peak Performance EMDR Therapy.

From most outsider perspectives Andrew was a successful family man and attorney. After five years with a small law firm, he seemed poised to become partner. But losing his mother to cancer and supporting his aging father seemed to have derailed his career. When a new partner was hired from outside the firm, he felt shut out. Rather than wait to be fired, he made a lateral job change with a less prestigious firm and found himself settling into a mediocre career. Andrew felt stuck, unable to reach the potential he knew he was capable of.

When Andrew decided to come in for EMDR therapy, we worked through the negative belief he was un-consciously holding, his fear of failure. As Andrew shifted his beliefs to those of success, he regained his energy and confidence. He was able to identify the kind of career he wanted to have and pursue it with an honest and positive belief, confident that he could reach the level of success he desired.

Recognizing the barriers
For some people, the barriers to success seem clear. A high school student with extreme test anxiety knows he needs help to get his best SAT score. A professional woman who is afraid to drive on the freeway finds her job opportunities limited. Taking the step to seek out appropriate help such as peak performance coaching or EMDR therapy is so important to creating possibilities for success. I’ve seen the results, the freedom and assurance that comes from people who have engaged in the process of shattering the barriers – students walking into an SAT test with confidence or professionals driving down the freeway to a new job.

For many of us our negative self-beliefs hide themselves in our sub-conscious. They play out in small moments, that can affect our relationships, our willingness to take important risks, our self-confidence about trying something new. Some questions you might ask yourself to recognize what might be holding you back are:

  • Do I have goals that I establish and sabotage?
  • Do I feel bored in my career?
  • Do I feel stuck at a level of performance that I can’t break through?
  • Do I limit myself in order to avoid failure?
  • Do past setbacks keep me from taking risks?
  • Do I say no to challenges that interest me because I’m unsure of the result?

How Peak Performance Coaching and EMDR Therapy works
Bringing peak performance coaching and EMDR therapy to engage these barriers to success means having someone who can help you take a long and wide perspective of your life situation. They can also help you recognize patterns, identify the root cause of those barriers, and the negative beliefs that are holding you back from success. EMDR therapy is useful in working to process those root causes, helping to change negative beliefs into positive ones. And finally, a peak performance coach can help you create the tools and systems you need for long term success.

Call me and let’s work together to help you achieve your maximum potential!

* The Harvard/Yale football story above came from a New Yorker article which portrays the value of coaching to help many professionals achieve their peak performance. You can read it here

EMDR trauma therapy after Arizona firefighter tragedy

EMDR therapy for trauma recoveryKVOA in Tuscon, AZ recently ran a broadcast highlighting the work of local EMDR therapists in helping those who were impacted by the Arizona firefighter tragedy. Julie Miller, an EMDR therapist specializing in trauma therapy in the Tuscon area, does a great job describing how EMDR works and why it is so effective in trauma recovery.

Here are a few key quotes:

“When someone has something traumatic happen there are places in the brain that literally go dark. So what seems to happen with the bilateral stimulation, left, right, left right, either eye movements or kinesthetic stimulation, that both sides of the brain will just light up. And so, they can finally work through the issue that they’ve gotten stuck with,”

She also highlights the fact that EMDR can be effective for treating not only the trauma but other secondary effects:

“Anything that was impacting them, with depression or anxiety, that’s going to be removed if it was based on the trauma. So it’s a way to put the past in that past and be able to move forward with their lives.”

Click here to view the full article and broadcast.  There is a 25 second advertisement but it’s worth the wait.

EMDR trauma therapy for trauma recovery

Healing From Trauma: Effective Trauma Therapy With EMDR

Two individuals are robbed at gunpoint. One experiences overwhelming helplessness and has a hard month. But by the end of that time, he has pretty much resolved and integrated the incident into his life. The other person experiences intense rage. Years later, she is still struggling with the negative, life-changing aftermath of the trauma.

As seen in the above example, not everyone reacts to trauma in the same way. Just as pain thresholds differ, so do trauma thresholds. But as William Shakespeare wrote in his play Othello, “What wound did ever heal but by degrees?”

Having studied trauma intensively over the past couple of decades, researchers now know that a traumatic event’s impact depends on the perception of it. Perception is influenced by a number of factors including age, physical characteristics, level of support, etc. Thus, emotional trauma can result from a single extreme and deeply felt experience or from a series of low-intensity events. Even everyday happenings — falls, difficult births, betrayals, medical/dental procedures — can cause the same lingering traumatic effects as extreme or violent events, such as physical abuse, combat or serious accidents.

Fortunately, even traumatic effects that linger for years can be resolved, and the result can be a new present-day reality that includes, but is not dominated by, a traumatic past.

“The same immense energies that create the symptoms of trauma, when properly engaged and mobilized, can transform the trauma and propel us into new heights of healing, mastery and even wisdom,” writes Peter Levine, author of Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma.

The Natural Trauma Response

Levine and others contend that emotional trauma goes unhealed when the natural trauma response is interrupted and feelings unleashed by the event remain unresolved. Because of this, anxiety, anger, depression, guilt, hopelessness, self-blame, shame and other feelings freeze up inside of us.

That “freeze” is not just emotional, but it is physical as well. Recent research indicates that parts of the brain become altered by traumatic events. These disruptions are actually visible on brain scans.

Just what is a natural trauma response? It’s the whole continuum of emotional and physical sensations that occur with the first inclination that something is wrong or dangerous. To understand it, Levine suggests that we look at how animals respond to danger, real or perceived.

After the animal has instinctively chosen to fight, flee or freeze, and the danger has passed, the animal twitches and trembles throughout the entire body, essentially “shedding” the tension required for alertness and quick response.

Human response to danger — real or perceived — can also involve shaking, sweating, crying, laughing or shuddering. Just like the animal, such responses are natural and part of the body’s effort to return to a state of equilibrium. They are crucial to the recovery process, and they may go on for hours, days or weeks.

Too often, however, we deny this process or don’t give it its due. We say to ourselves or hear from others, Pull yourself together. Forget about it. Get up and shake it off. It’s time to get on with your life.

And when we do that, when we ignore the emotional and physical sensations that continue after a traumatizing event, we interrupt the natural cycle, short-circuiting our natural ability to heal. This sets us up for a damaging traumatic aftermath.

“The animal’s ability to rebound from threat can serve as a model for humans,” Levine writes. “It gives us a direction that may point the way to our own innate healing abilities.”

Life After Trauma

The incidence of serious negative events that typically evoke traumatic response is surprisingly pervasive in our culture today. A 20-year study released in 2005 by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that of the 17,337 middle-class participants, a startling 64% had experienced one or more of eight categories of traumatic childhood events.

The study showed a significant connection between this childhood trauma and disease, depression, drug use and/or suicide.

Perhaps that is because unresolved trauma can undermine basic human needs. Dena Rosenbloom and Mary Beth Williams, authors of Life After Trauma: A Workbook for Healing, identify these basic needs as safety, trust, a measure of control over one’s life, self-worth and intimacy.

EMDR is a highly effective way to deal with unresolved trauma, whether that single extreme incident or a series of low intensity events. By processing upsetting experiences, those memories lose their power. When trauma is fully resolved, people find that the basic needs of safety, trust and control over one’s life are restored. Many people come away renewed and ready to live the rest of their life on their own terms.

Author’s content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Additional Resources for Trauma Therapy

I highly recommend a new book by Francine Shapiro, the creator of EMDR:

Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy

View the Resources page of my website for additional books on this and other topics.

EMDR therapy discussed in NYT

This New York Times article provides additional background on EMDR (the form of psychotherapy therapy that I practice) from the woman who developed it.