VIDEO: Why EMDR Works

What Therapists Need to Know to Treat Trauma Effectively

Deany Laliotis

While EMDR is best known for the treatment of PTSD, it’s evolved into a comprehensive, attachment-based approach that addresses a broad range of clinical conditions.

In the following interview, EMDR pioneer Deany Laliotis explains how EMDR works, who it works with, and how it's evolved over time.

Deany Laliotis, LICSW, is a trainer, clinical consultant, and practitioner of EMDR. She’s the director of training for EMDR Institute, Inc., and is the codirector of EMDR of Greater Washington.

Not only does Deany say a therapist treating trauma must keep the client close and connected to help manage their symptoms, but they should invite them to reflect and grow. "Help them appreciate that perhaps what they learned to do growing up was avoid their 'inner life' because they didn't have the resources they needed. Our challenge is to help the client appreciate this, and validate them." Then, she says, "invite them to stretch, to be curious. To approach their inner life."

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Topic: Anxiety/Depression | Trauma

Tags: Deany Laliotis | Depression & Grief | emdr | emdr therapy | post-traumatic stress disorder ptsd | PTSD | ptsd and depression | therapy for trauma | Trauma | trauma and recovery | trauma recovery | treating trauma

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2 Comments

Thursday, August 22, 2019 5:18:32 PM | posted by Jeffrey Von Glahn
I found Laliotis’s description of EMDR quite refreshing – except for one quite significant omission (see below). I’ve always thought of EMDR – minus the controversial bilateral stimulation aspect – as an excellent example of a transtheoretical or transdiagnostic approach. Laliotis’ overall formulation of EMDR fits right in with my proposed understanding of such an approach. That is, the typical problem presented for psychotherapy (until shown otherwise) has a psychogenic or interpersonal causation; unprocessed experiences are stored as an imprint; the most problematic effects of such events cannot be significantly altered by a conscious act; and clients provide a more accurate understanding of their experiencing than any concept. Given those features, my proposed therapeutic approach is my concept of therapeutic catharsis (See PN, May/June 2012, or articles in PsycINFO), and which I view as based on the assumption that there exists a natural healing process for psychological injuries, just as there is one for physical illness/injuries. My reason for bringing my pet concept (its origin was my theoretical doctoral dissertation) into this post is because there are many, many instances in the EMDR literature of clients crying, and quite deeply so, in a case presentation that has quite a positive outcome. In one of Shapiro’s first articles (1989) about Eye Movement Desensitization, as it was called then, a young woman cried deeply, for “11/2 minutes,” over a childhood incident of “sexual molestation.” When asked how she felt, she replied: “I feel like I’ve been exorcised!” In the discussion of each of these cases in the EMDR literature, I’ve yet to see crying even suggested as a possible change agent. All other therapeutic approaches exhibit the same self-inflicted blind spot about the therapeutic effectiveness of crying. My concept of TC offers a criterion for differentiating between a therapeutic emotional release and one that is not. It’s very simple – though it took me years to formulate it. A therapeutic emotional release occurs when the client’s emotional experiencing arises in an unforced/ unprovoked way, i.e., when it occurs coincident with the client receiving sufficient support for her/his experiencing. The third and fourth stages in the EMDR protocol are excellent examples of unforced activation (Shapiro, 2001). The forced/provoked activation of a client’s emotional experiencing is not therapeutic, primarily because the unexpected occurrence actives too much unresolved stuff and overloads the nervous system’s ability to process it. It’s forced activation that has been erroneously referred to as “retraumatization,” and which, unfortunately, has been misapplied to any instance of heightened emotional experiencing, regardless of how it occurred.

Monday, August 19, 2019 11:52:29 AM | posted by lorraine vinci
Very helpful and informative to those who are not well-versed in this type of treatmetn.