EMDR Therapy

EMDR Therapy

EMDR-therapy-Identity-Ann-Arbor

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an approach to psychotherapy that was created to help people heal from symptoms of trauma and psychological distress caused by upsetting life experiences. EMDR is performed by a mental health professional like a therapist, counselor, social worker or psychologist, who has been formally trained in EMDR therapy and its techniques. At Identity Counseling Psychology, our therapy practice located in Ann Arbor, MI, we offer both traditional talk therapy for issues relating to trauma, as well as EMDR therapy as a form of treatment. IDENTITY clinician Jaymin Cox, LMSW, CAADC, specializes in trauma counseling and has been trained in EMDR therapy. Check out Jaymin’s profile to learn more, or contact us today to schedule an intake. 


What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and it’s a unique form of psychotherapy that was created to treat symptoms of trauma, although it doesn’t require patients to talk about the traumatic experiences that they’ve endured. EMDR has been highly beneficial for patients dealing with trauma and PTSD, as opening up about the surrounding events or memories tends to be a painful, slow-moving, and sometimes impossible feat.

The goal of EMDR therapy is to help patients fully process negative past experiences and sort out the feelings, memories, and triggers attached to those experiences so that they can heal in a healthy way. EMDR is an integrative style of therapy, in which practitioners use bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, sounds, or taps, to divert the attention of patients while they recall painful or traumatic memories. Exposure to trauma in this indirect way alleviates its intensity and allows it to be worked through and addressed in a safe setting. Processing past psychological pain is an important step that makes room for healthy healing and coping moving forward.

EMDR sessions follow a specific sequence of phases, which can generally be completed within 4-8 sessions. The therapist and patient can then reevaluate whether more treatment is necessary or wanted. EMDR can be used as a stand-alone therapy or alongside other forms of treatment.

What Does EMDR Therapy Treat?

EMDR therapy is particularly effective for those who struggle to talk about their past experiences. It was originally designed to treat post traumatic stress, but EMDR can be used to address any adverse experiences or negative memories that may be impacting or leading to mental health concerns. 

Therapists have been known to use EMDR for issues like:

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

In EMDR therapy, patients are helped to identify and work through the negative memories or experiences that cause them distress in order to make room for proper healing. There are eight phases in EMDR therapy, which consist of the following steps:

1. History and treatment planning

This phase involves the therapist and the patient reviewing the patient’s past experiences, current concerns, and future goals, as well as identifying the target memories and events that may be traumatic and need to be fully processed. 

2. Preparation

During this phase, the therapist will explain the treatment process and establish trust with the patient. The therapist will also go over coping strategies for any distress or overwhelming feelings that may arise during the treatment. Stress management and coping techniques may include things like deep breathing or mindfulness exercises.

3. Assessment

In this phase, the patient brings the target event to mind and discusses his or her associated negative thoughts, beliefs, and even physical sensations when thinking about the event. The therapist records and evaluates these observations. The therapist and patient together then pick a more positive and desirable cognition or belief related to the event. They discuss, measure and record how true the new, healthier association feels to the patient.

4. Desensitization

Desensitization is the phase where the bilateral stimulation occurs. The client thinks about the target event while the therapist administers sets of side-to-side eye movements, sounds, or taps. This stimulation diverts the client’s attention while they are simultaneously giving attention to the target memories. The therapist breaks periodically to check in on the patient and evaluate how they’re feeling. The sets of eye movements, sounds, or taps are repeated until the event feels less disturbing. 

5. Installation

This phase is used to strengthen positive and healthy replacement cognitions related to the event. The desirable beliefs and associations that were previously discussed are the target of the bilateral stimulation in this phase. The therapist again checks in with the client periodically to measure how true the healthier cognitions feel as the bilateral stimulation continues. 

6. Body scan

In this phase the therapist and the patient check in to see if the patient is now able to   bring up memories of the traumatic event without experiencing psychological distress or any negative feelings that aren’t relevant or healthy. If the patient is still not able to process the memory without experiencing unhealthy physical tension or emotional disturbances, continuation of the bilateral stimulation may be deemed necessary. 

7. Closure

Closure is a phase that occurs at the end of every session, even if the target event is not  fully processed. This is important because EMDR therapy can take several sessions to complete, and the patient must always reach stabilization before a session is over and they leave therapy, as bilateral stimulation can be overwhelming, especially at first. Reaching closure can include calming exercises, guided imagery, or discussion of the session. 

8. Reevaluation

This phase occurs at the beginning of every session, and it consists of evaluating and measuring the residual distress related to the target event that may still be in place, as well as evaluating and measuring the perceived accuracy of the new positive beliefs related to the target event. If the client is still experiencing unhealthy levels of disturbance, the session resumes with desensitization. If healthier beliefs are accepted, the patient is ready to move on. Both the patient and the therapist assess the progress that has been made. 


How IDENTITY Can Help

Identity Counseling Psychology is a psychotherapy practice in Ann Arbor, MI that specializes in counseling for issues related to trauma. Our therapists are passionate about tailoring therapy services to the individual needs of the patient, and this might include techniques like EMDR. Jaymin Cox, LMSW, CAADC offers EMDR therapy at IDENTITY, and is trained in trauma counseling and EMDR techniques. EMDR operates under the theory that disturbing memories, events, or experiences can lead to unwanted mental health symptoms, and that processing trauma is important to make room for healing. However, this is often difficult without the help of a mental health professional. If you are dealing with symptoms of trauma, but struggle to discuss or relay painful emotions, EMDR therapy might be a good fit for you. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.

It is important to note that due to the nature of EMDR therapy and its potential for producing vivid visual imagery and/or body sensations, the clinicians at IDENTITY cannot engage in this therapy with anyone who dissociates or has a dissociative disorder at this time. If you are interested in EMDR, but are unsure if you dissociate, please talk to your therapist. All EMDR clients will be screened for dissociation prior to beginning treatment. 


Clinician Interview – Meet Jaymin Cox, LMSW, CAADC

Clinician Interview – Meet Jaymin Cox, LMSW, CAADC

Jaymin-Cox-Identity-Counseling-Psychology-Ann-Arbor
Jaymin Cox, LMSW, CAADC

Interview with Jaymin Cox, LMSW, CAADC

Check out our clinician interview with new IDENTITY therapist, Jaymin Cox, LMSW, CAADC. Jaymin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor practicing at our office in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Jaymin is passionate about working with adults and young adults dealing with a variety of mental health concerns, offering therapy in specialty areas including trauma and PTSD, addiction, grief, relationships, and self-esteem issues. Contact us today to schedule an intake appointment with Jaymin.


What is your specialty?

I specialize in trauma and addiction issues. Since I began working in the addiction field as an intern in 2014, I have been very aware of the role trauma and PTSD play in people’s lives, and what it can lead people to do. I have created psycho-education projects about trauma, and I have geared my training and orientation towards trauma since I was an intern. It’s my passion, and helping people heal is what I enjoy doing.  

What made you want to become a therapist?

I’ve always wanted to help people, just how I help them has changed as I’ve gotten older. When I was 14 I wanted to be a psychologist, but then that quickly changed to wanting to be in the military. I was in the Navy for a couple of years, and afterwards I returned to school. While I was getting my bachelor’s degree, I ended up volunteering for America Reads, and taught kindergarten one day a week for a year in a low-income area. Through that experience, I decided to get a master’s in social work. My first internship was at the Salvation Army in Tucson, Arizona, which was an inpatient rehab. This was my first experience doing addiction counseling and it ended up being a focus of my career so far.

What can clients expect when they first come to therapy? What is a typical therapy session like with you?

When they first come to therapy, I think they can expect to laugh and learn a lot more than they would expect. I try to create a safe and relaxed space where ideas can flow, and people don’t feel judged. My aim is to give people knowledge and tools, and then help them use those tools effectively. I know that I would want to have all of the necessary information about my concerns of the day, and about the tools I could use to achieve my goals. I think people are often surprised at how quickly I can help push away the clutter and get to the bottom of whatever concerns they have. The therapeutic process is a lot less frightening or doom and gloom than people often expect.

How have you seen therapy be helpful to your clients?

From my observation, therapy can create a domino effect in a person’s life. Once you start taking care of your mental health, other things start improving. Therapy helps us understand why we do things that felt unexplainable prior to therapy, but once we know why we do things, it’s easier to use the coping skills we’ve learned, and our problems start to seem manageable. Once we’re able to address our problems in a meaningful way, we often feel better about life and our place in the universe. I think for many of my clients, therapy has given them a space to speak openly about fears they didn’t talk about before and helped them overcome those fears.

What do you think are the most important considerations when looking for a therapist?

It’s ok to shop for a therapist who is the right fit for you. You want someone you feel safe being emotionally open with and someone who is a good listener. Without those two things, it will become very hard to craft solutions to your specific situation. You also want to consider the therapist’s training and experience working with your specific issue, and whether they will challenge you to meet your goals.

What do you hope your clients walk away with?

Therapy is like dancing, except the dance is between the client and their lives, and the therapist is the dance instructor. Hopefully, you’ll be a little bit better at dancing every time you leave therapy, and you’ll feel a little better about understanding the steps. 


Visit Jaymin’s profile to learn more about his counseling services or to schedule an appointment. 

Clinician Interview – Meet Jessica Davis, LPC

Clinician Interview – Meet Jessica Davis, LPC

Jessica-Davis-LPC-Headshot-Identity-Ann-Arbor
Jessica Davis, LPC

Interview with Jessica Davis, LPC

Check out our clinician interview with the newest member of the IDENTITY team, Jessica Davis, LPC. Jessica is a Licensed Professional Counselor practicing at our office in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Jessica is passionate about working with adults and young adults dealing with a variety of mental health concerns, and offers therapy for specialty issues including trauma, depression, anxiety, relationships, personality disorders and more. Jessica is currently accepting new patients. Contact us today to schedule an intake appointment with Jessica. 


What do you specialize in?

I specialize in counseling adults and young adults. I have experience working in university counseling settings, as well as with older adults in a community mental health setting. My clinical experience and interests include relationship concerns, trauma, personality disorders, existential and identity concerns, and issues relating to the LGBTQ+ population.

What made you want to become a therapist?

I have always had an interest in psychology, especially psychopathology. I initially planned to pursue the research side of psychology and worked as a research assistant; during this time, I realized that the part of this work I enjoyed the most was interviewing and interacting with study participants. This value of personal connection led me to pursue mental health counseling.

What can clients expect when they first come to therapy? What is a typical therapy session like with you?

The first therapy session will be different from other sessions. The purpose of this session is to gather information, get to know each other, and answer any questions or concerns the client may have about the therapeutic process.  I use the first appointment to begin to understand the client’s background, reasons for seeking treatment, and important people and events that shaped them. Subsequent therapy sessions will consist of deeper exploration, intervention, and work toward therapy goals.

How have you seen therapy be helpful to your clients?

For many clients, it can be beneficial to have a relationship in which they are fully supported and heard. I have seen my clients benefit from having the time and space to process and explore concerns, learning new coping skills to manage their distress, and understanding how their beliefs about themselves and the world have been shaped.

What do you think are the most important considerations when looking for a therapist?

I believe that the most important contributor to success in therapy is a close, collaborative, and genuine therapist-client relationship. I recognize how difficult it may be to share deeply personal fears, thoughts, and experiences with another person. My goal is to create a comfortable and supportive environment in which you can fully express yourself without fear of judgement.

What do you hope your clients walk away with?

I hope clients walk away with a deeper understanding of themselves, the skills to tolerate distress, and the ability to incorporate what they learn about themselves into their daily life.

Visit Jessica’s profile to learn more about her counseling services or to schedule an appointment.