I am a clinical
psychologist who mostly does individual therapy with older adolescents and
adults. While I have in the past seen some couples with success, I do not have
the specialized training for marital therapy and normally refer couples to
other therapists who do specialize in marital therapy.
I was in a private
practice in Houston, Texas from 1974 until 2011 when I retired and moved to
Madison, Wisconsin (I know, most people retire and move south). Now I have a
new, small private practice. I limit my practice to 15 clients per week.
I am an EMDR specialist.
I am an EMDR International Association Certified EMDR Therapist and Approved
EMDR is, to say the
least, a very unusual therapy. It is so "not logical" that I first
refused to even consider going to an EMDR training.
EMDR integrates a
variety of approaches to psychotherapy depending on the situation. However,
EMDR is a very specific approach to therapy. EMDR, an "accidental
discovery" in 1987 by Francine Shapiro, now rests on the belief (theory)
that the issues we face today are the result of incompletely processed adverse
life experiences, the most severe of these being trauma. Normally our minds
process information from both good and painful experiences in life and over
time integrates them into our network of memories that make up what I call
"the fabric of our lives."
The Healing Process:
The natural healing
process of the body is blocked if, say, a cut on our arm is too deep for the
skin to easily mend together or if the wound becomes infected. In such cases,
we need stitches to hold the wound together until the healing process is
completed or we take antibiotics to eliminate the infection which is blocking
our physical healing.
When events are too
powerful for the natural and normal healing process of our minds to process,
the experience becomes "blocked" and does not move from an immediate
experience to "just a memory." These incompletely processed memories
continue to influence how we see things, think, feel and behave, whether we are
aware of it or not.
The primary focus of
EMDR therapy is the therapist and client figuring out together what adverse
life experiences are the underlying causes of the problems that brought the
client to therapy. Once these experiences are identified, the EMDR processing
of these events is begun. In some way that is not fully understood, the EMDR
process releases the natural healing mechanism of the mind which got
"stuck" and did not fully process the painful experience. When a painful
memory is fully processed and integrated, it no longer has the power to cause
problems. How many past experiences need to be processed with EMDR varies
greatly from person to person. A single event, recent trauma can get fully
processed in as little as three to five sessions, including the initial
evaluation and preparation. Other situations take more sessions.
I had been a therapist
for 19 years when, in spite of my extreme skepticism, I began my training in
EMDR therapy. The results of this training were stunning.
For years I had worked
with many very fine people facing significant life challenges -- relationship
issues, self-esteem issues, long-term depression -- most of whom did benefit
from therapy. However, for the most part, they learned to cope better with
their challenges but never truly got over the life experiences that were the
underlying cause of their problems. Life experiences in childhood,
adolescence and even adulthood that continued to be experienced as much more
present than "just history."
With EMDR I saw people
painful experiences and feeling and
being free from their negative effects.
Before EMDR I repeatedly
saw that people often got insight into the cause of their problems. However,it
became clear that insight doesn't necessarily free us from the events. We may
understand a lot more about why we are the way we are, but we essentially have
not overcome the negative influence of these life-changing events. With EMDR
therapy, people moved beyond insight to .
Because EMDR was such a
"good fit" for me as a therapist, I was allowed to learn how to
supervise the practice of EMDR by therapists in formal training weekends. I
later became an Approved EMDR Consultant, and thus consult with other EMDR
therapists to help them with the challenges they face. If I do not have the
particular expertise needed, I refer them to other Approved Consultants, just
as I refer clients to other therapists when I believe I am not the best person
Like most therapists I believe
the foundation that is necessary for successful psychotherapy is a trusting and
sound relationship with my clients. My experience is that most people connect
with me rather easily and quickly. When there is not a good fit, I refuse to
allow them to spend their money and time with me as their therapist. I tell
them, "You have enough problems already. You don't need to have to learn
how to get along with your therapist when there are many other good therapists