The Mechanism
Quite a lot of studies have been conducted on how, by moving your body’s left and right sides in an alternating fashion (e.g., by so called bilateral stimulation such as drumming, walking, boxing), even chronic stress responses can be gently. “thawed down” and replaced with a feeling of calm and groundedness. For more information on this therapy that is called “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing” (EMDR Therapy), please visit EMDRIA.org. EMDR therapy is now the top treatment for PTSD in America.

The Treatment
While EMDR therapy has been around since the early 1990s, a recent protocol within the EMDR therapy field has shown that we do not need to take a trauma at a time in order for the body to resolve it. Instead, we can allow the mind and body to briefly touch upon the understandable traumas (instead of diving into them for resolution) and still receive the desired elimination of the stress response. Find more information on this short-term protocol.

What Are You Dealing With?
For any residual impact of abuse experienced, addiction, or other undesired behavior that is difficult to resolve, the theory is that underlying deep trauma has prevented the fulfillment of a survival or necessary need. Because those survival needs must be filled in some way, fulfillment comes from being “hooked up” with the dysfunctional behavior/identity in the mind. The person returns unconsciously to this dysfunctional behavior/identity because it is actually an attempt to fulfill the survival or unfulfilled need that could not be resolved from earlier trauma. The greater the trauma, the greater the addiction intensity.

Feeling State: A Normal Feeling Fused With Trauma Becomes A Dysfunctional Feeling
The “hook-up” I just mentioned is called a Feeling State. In other words, a feeling becomes fused to a traumatic memory. As EMDR Therapy processing gently “un-fuses” the feeling from the traumatic memory, the behavior/identity issues will resolve or cease, and the authentic self will rise automatically. For instance, if a girl is traumatized and feels trapped in terror for not being safe, (a primal need) she may resort to a drug high to make her feel safe. NOT returning to the drug high is just like telling her brain that she can’t be safe, which is why it is so extremely difficult to stop the addiction. In her case, drugs = safety, which, however, is not real safety.

Examples
In the case of Gender Dysphoria, the “drug high” for a girl who is desperate to be male, (assuming the Feeling State is safety), is feeling she is a male since being a girl was not emotionally safe due to abuse issues. Asking her not to be male is just like telling her brain that she can’t be safe, and there’s the real issue.
With this in mind, how can we resolve the “hook-up?” to unhealthy feelings? Studies show that the brain knows how to heal itself with the help of a therapist guide. The therapist helps the client describe the memory that causes the disturbance and the feelings that have been linked to the memory.

Treatment Outcomes
The traumatic memory can carefully be resolved, the stress response can be reduced in therapy and by the client’s use of self-regulation strategies. Thereby, the “need” for the unwanted behavior and/or addiction decreases. Some of our clients, whatever their addiction such as drugs, homosexual/heterosexual porn, Gender Dysphoria, electronics, etc., either almost or completely end their addictions, and they begin to go away often within the first three sessions. In some cases it may take a month, sometimes four or more months depending on the how complex and wide-spread the trauma was:
The addiction or undesired behavior essentially ceases because the trauma and the feeling state have resolved. During and after resolution, it is essential that inborn needs for safety, affirmation, approval/affection, and other important needs are fulfilled in healthy ways that the client determines truly work for him or her. This may sound miraculous at first.

Does this also work for chronic pain conditions, e.g., vulvodynia, dyspareunia, vaginismus?
The mechanisms of stress and trauma reduction described above also applies to (medical and psychological) conditions involving chronic (sexual) pain. Clients with chronic and complex pelvic pain with whom I used the EMDR protocol noticed a decrease in pain plus a decrease in disturbance of other memories linked to the pelvic floor (e.g., family of origin trauma, trauma induced by medical providers/treatment). There is relief from chronic conditions!

Long-term Benefits
Recently conducted studies that contain a follow-up visit after a year of treatment show that good treatment outcomes appear to be permanent. Therapists and clients are impressed by the quick and thorough success of this type of processing. No guarantees of success can be made by any therapist for any issue, but we are greatly impressed with efficacy to date.

Risks
What’s the risk of this therapy, you ask? Common factors associated with any form of professional therapy include, e.g., that uncomfortable feelings are being stirred up. At the same time, the relief of the stress that is created through the functional (bi-lateral) movement during the processing. This relief seems to positively overshadow the potential discomfort with touching upon difficult memories. Please let us know any questions you may have. We are most happy to explore this therapy with you.