NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Integrating EMDR and Somatic Psychotherapy

In prior articles, I've discussed how I use an integrative approach to psychotherapy to tailor therapy to the needs of each client. In this article, I'm focusing specifically on the integration of EMDR and somatic psychotherapy as a powerful combination to overcome psychological trauma.

See my articles: 

Integrative Psychotherapy

Integrating EMDR and Somatic Psychotherapy

How EMDR Therapy Developed
EMDR therapy was originally developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. in the mid-1980s for PTSD (postraumatic stress disorder).  It is one of the most researched therapies that has been shown to be effective to help clients to overcome trauma.

Since that time, EMDR has been shown to be effective for other problems, including performance enhancement, substance abuse, development trauma and other problems (see my article: EMDR Therapy and Performance Enhancement).

Enhancements to EMDR Therapy
EMDR therapy has also changed since its inception to include various enhancements to make it more effective for a wide variety of clients in therapy.  

One of those enhancements is the recognition that EMDR combines well with most other therapies, including psychodynamic psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioral therapy and mind-body oriented therapies, like somatic psychotherapy (see my article: Contemporary Psychoanalysis and EMDR Therapy: A Powerful Combination to Overcome Trauma).

Combining EMDR Therapy and Somatic Psychotherapy
Combining EMDR therapy and somatic therapy works especially well for clients who are cut off from their emotional and physical experience of their body.  These clients often intellectualize about their problems.  They might be able to talk about their problems with significant insight, but that's where their experience ends.

Unfortunately, this usually means that their problems don't change.  So, they can remain in regular talk therapy for years and they experience no resolution to their problems (see my article: EMDR Therapy When Talk Therapy Isn't Enough).

By combining EMDR with somatic psychotherapy, the psychotherapist helps clients to connect to their experience on an emotional and physical level so that the client is no longer intellectualizing with about their problems (see my article: Experiential Therapy, Like EMDR, Helps to Achieve Emotional Breakthroughs.

The use of somatic psychotherapy also helps to titrate the therapeutic work in a way that makes it manageable for the client, and since every client is different in terms of his or her window of tolerance, this makes the combination of EMDR and somatic therapy ideal for tailoring the therapy to the individual client's needs (see my article: Expanding Your Window of Tolerence in Therapy to Overcome Emotional Problems).

For instance, if a client is processing a traumatic memory from childhood with EMDR therapy and she begins to feel afraid, a psychotherapist who uses somatic psychotherapy can help the client to calm down and ground by asking her to become aware of how her feet feel against the floor and how the floor and all the other floors below support the weight of her body. 

The therapist can also bring the client's attention to other parts of her body where she feels calm and safe.  Then, when the client is ready, they can return to processing the trauma with EMDR.

When the client knows in advance that the work will be titrated in a way that she controls based on what feels manageable for her, she is more likely to be open to processing traumatic experiences that she might have been reticent to do before.

Using somatic psychotherapy with EMDR also helps to integrate changes made in therapy because the therapeutic work is experienced more fully based on the mind-body connection rather than just depending on an intellectual integration.

Getting Help in Therapy
EMDR and somatic psychotherapy are a powerful combination for processing traumatic experiences as well as for performance enhancement.

If you have unresolved traumatic experiences that are holding you back and preventing you from maximizing your potential, you could benefit from working with a licensed mental health professional (see my article: How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

Rather than struggling on your own, you owe it to yourself to get help from a skilled psychotherapist who can help you overcome your problems.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who uses integrative psychotherapy in.a dynamic and collaborative way to tailor each treatment to the needs of the particular client.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or Email me