Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

 “I want EMDR. My cousin and a lady in my Bible study group said they had it and it worked quickly.”  Here at A Chance to Change we are receiving more requests for sessions with clinicians who utilize body-based therapies that engage the five senses. EMDR may be the best known.

What can you expect from an EMDR session?

1.       To NOT tell the therapist the details of the events you wish to resolve. This is to keep you safe.

2.       Focus on one event at a time - perhaps an automobile accident.

3.       You will be asked to imagine an internal calm place.

4.       Questions to help focus the session. “What is the first image that comes to mind when you think of this accident? Do you hear any sounds when you see this image? Smells come to mind? Tastes in your mouth? Sense of touch? Do you have any physical sensations in your body when you think of this event now?  What emotions can you identify right now when you think of this event?”

5.       You will then be asked to rate the intensity of the emotions, physical sensations between 0-10, with 0 being neutral of no intensity and 10 being the highest you can imagine. 

6.       At least one negative belief will be identified. “If I were not such an idiot I would never have had the accident.” That belief will be rated between 1 (totally false) to 7 (totally true)

7.       A positive belief that you would rather have about yourself will also be identified. “I can learn from this.” It too will be rated between 1 and 7.

8.       The next step is to imagine that you are watching the event on a small black and white television or that you are a passenger in a car and watch this event happen as you pass by.

The purpose of this is step is to have emotional distance from the event as you process it in your mind and body. Reliving the event by re-feeling the full extent of the emotions and physical sensations that you had at the time of the event actually slows the healing process.

9.       As you “watch” the event, some type of bi-lateral stimulation will occur (defined in bullet 10). The purpose of the bi-lateral stimulation is to activate the right and left side of your brain to assist your brain/body to finish processing the distressing event.  I like to think of this process as a small creek with a beaver dam across it. The bi-lateral stimulation removes the beaver dam so the water can flow freely again.

10.    The bi-lateral stimulation may be done in several ways. The therapist may use fingers or have a wand for you to follow with your eyes, some tappers to hold in your hands with an alternating pulse, heads phones with a tone that alternates between the ears, or some combination. You may be asked to alternately tap your thighs or cross your arms, giving yourself a hug, while tapping your shoulders alternately. The bi-lateral stimulation will be in sets, while you silently review the event internally. questions to keep the session focused on the healing process, the clinician will periodically stop the bi-lateral stimulation to ask. The clinician may also ask you to periodically visit the calm place you designed at the beginning of the session to give your mind and body a rest.

11.    The processing is complete when all distress is at zero or neutral. The negative belief is totally false and the positive event is totally true.

The biggest difference in sessions where the therapist utilizes body-based therapies, such as EMDR, is less talking by the therapist while you silently resolve the distress you are feeling. An event is considered resolved when you can talk about it and remember the event, if you wish, without distress. The goal is to integrate the event with all of your life experiences.


Possible benefits of body-based therapies such as EMDR: comparable outcomes to cognitive based therapies in fewer sessions. Possible risks: it is possible to experience rapid change for which you are not prepared; there can be some distress between sessions as your body/brain continue to release emotions and physical sensations; family and friends may be unprepared for the changes you make.

For more information on EMDR and the 30 years of research go to: www.emdria.org

Blog provided by Rita Crockett MBA, LPC, LADC

Why Does Everyone Sound Like the Charlie Brown Teacher?

Me and Mom.jpg

After my mother passed away from dementia last September I immediately felt relief as I left her bedside and walked out of the facility she had died in, but what I didn't expect to feel was the overwhelming grief I have had to carry with me every day since then. I walked back to a "normal" life as a mother, a wife, a sibling, a friend and an employee, but all I could hear were noises. I would go to meetings, drive my children from gymnastics and choir, talk to my friends and hug my husband, but no one made sense to me. I stopped caring about the things I once loved, like late night conversations with close friends, running, going to movies or playing with my young children.

My world was in slow motion. All I wanted to do was sleep and the tiniest inconvenience would stop me in my tracks with fear or helplessness. I would cry suddenly, huge gulping bursts at stop lights on my way to work. Every chance I could, I closed my office door to fight the urge to run away and put my head under a pillow. I told people what I knew they wanted to hear, "I'm fine. Yep, busy with work. Those kids really keep us running. I am glad she isn't suffering anymore. Things are great. Thanks for asking." What I really wanted to say is "I'm not fine. I am devastated. I was screwed over and I am angry. I wish she hadn't died. I need her and, of yeah, my intense fear of getting this devastating brain disease has all but consumed me. How are you and your family doing?"

Pretty sure 9 out of 10 people would have run away. Here's the kicker, on some mornings, the sobs still happen and I expect them to sneak up on me from time to time. I still have days when getting out of bed hurts me physically because grief and depression hurt.  Death is a part of life, grief is a part of life and the trauma we all faced after she died is most definitely part of life. 

I am lucky enough to work around great counselors who have spent time checking on me, imparting their knowledge and skills with me and being supportive. I am in counseling to help me move on and grateful for it. If you are suffering, you can get help--just tell someone. 

A Chance to Change. 405.840.9000 

Getting Your Child Help for Mental Health and Addiction Issues

Getting Your Child Help for Mental Health and Addiction Issues

Bringing attention to the ever-changing, growing substance abuse epidemic in Oklahoma, A Chance to Change's Iona Cunningham had the chance to educate Oklahomans through two different media outlets this week and was featured on Wednesday night's KOCO 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm newscasts where she talked with Paul Folger about identifying when your child or children could benefit from a mental health and/or addiction assessment. Iona gave concrete advice on ways to identify issues or changes with your child:

  • Are they sleeping more or less?
  • Are they irritable, angry or unusually moody?
  • Are they hanging out with a new group of kids?
  • Are they avoiding you or other adults?
  • Are they expressing themselves differently than usual, i.e., shouting, being quite when they are usually chatty, etc.?
  • Have they lost interest in activities?
  • Are they unusually energetic or lethargic?

Iona advises all parents to "trust your gut." She says  that you as their parent know your child best, if you suspect something is wrong, air on the side of caution and have your child come in to A Chance to Change for an assessment. Better safe than regretful! 

Most of all, believe in yourself as a parent and be gentle on yourself. 

KOCO news story HERE