Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a trauma therapy modality that activates and encourages the brain to heal emotional pain. EMDR simulates the process in the brain that exists during REM sleep. This is when the brain does it's best processing, making sense of the experiences that occurred during the day, solving problems, and resolving emotional upset. Sometimes, an experience is so upsetting or occurs so pervasively, that the brain is unable to resolve it. The result could be intrusive memories, negative thoughts and emotional states, or unhelpful (and untrue) belief systems about oneself and the world. This is where EMDR can be helpful.
After collecting pertinent information about a person's current struggles and personal history, an EMDR-trained therapist will support their client in focusing on the images and messages associated with painful experiences. The brain is activated with bilateral stimulation which can be done a variety of ways, but often through back and forth eye movements. EMDR differs from talk therapy in that the client may focus silently on their experiences, allowing their brain to make sense of and reprocess memories with only limited insight from the therapist. Decades of research on EMDR indicate this modality can offer permanent relief from distressing thoughts and emotions faster than talk therapy alone. Just as the body knows how to heal physical injury, the brain can heal emotional injury when an environment conducive to healing exists.
You can learn more about the benefits of EMDR and how to find a trained therapist in your area by vising www.emdr.com.
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is primarily a couples therapy modality, though it is also used with individuals and families. Therapists trained in EFT focus on attachment and emotion in relationships. EFT therapists help their clients identify the unhelpful patterns that occur in disagreements instead of focusing on the content of a disagreement. For example, if a couple comes to therapy frustrated over an issue around household chores, the therapist will not focus on figuring out who will do what chores. Instead, they will guide the couple into a deeper conversation, identifying the meaning they attach to the conflict.
Decades of research on EFT suggests that couples develop negative cycles based on their attachment to each other and the emotions and meaning they link to their interactions. This means that couples often have the same argument over and over, with different situations providing the platform on any given day. EFT therapists help couples see that their chronic disagreements have deeper meaning. Once the underlying meaning is addressed, the conflict is disrupted. Repeated fights over household chores might really be about one partner feeling unappreciated and another partner feeling they can't get anything right. Once these patterns are identified, the therapist helps the couple join together to combat the negative cycle, stop blaming each other, and repair and strengthen their loving attachment.
You and your partner can use this worksheet to identify your negative cycle: Understanding Your Negative Cycle
You can visit www.iceeft.com to learn more about EFT and find a trained therapist near you.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy designed to teach people effective skills for living a more satisfying life. There are four main components of DBT. They are Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Distress Tolerance and Emotion Regulation. All four modules emphasize how to handle painful experiences effectively and stay in control of one’s thoughts, emotions, and behavior. DBT is especially helpful for people who want to learn real-world applications for handing distress and conflict in the moment.
Mindfulness is the foundation of DBT and is woven into all of the modules. A mindfulness practice allows people to be aware of what is happening both within them and around them. An important component of this is curiosity and non-judgment. DBT teaches people to notice their internal and external experiences without attaching labels such as “good” or “bad.” Mindfulness allows individuals to just notice what is.
Interpersonal Effectiveness skills help people achieve desired outcomes in their relationships. Focus is placed on respect for both self and others. Interpersonal Effectiveness training teaches individuals how to answer three questions: what do I want, how do I want others to feel about me and how do I want to feel about myself?
Distress Tolerance skills are designed to help people survive emotional and interpersonal crises without making things worse. Self-care, self-soothing, and resisting urges to behave impulsively are key components in this module. Moreover, a practice of radical acceptance is incorporated to help people accept what is and reduce the emotional suffering that accompanies resisting reality.
Emotion Regulation training assists individuals in creating a life worth living. Clarifying values, prioritizing goals, and creating realistic plans for goal attainment are key features in this module. Furthermore, skills for checking the facts and remaining mindful and in control of one’s emotions during non-crisis situations are also provided.
DBT skills can be taught in group or individual formats. I sometimes suggest clients get a DBT workbook for practicing skills in between sessions. My favorite is The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook by Matthew McKay, PhD, Jeffrey C. Wood, PsyD, and Jeffrey Brantley, MD.