EMDR Solutions

Robin Shapiro, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W.

Psychotherapy Practice

Since 1981, I've been working with adults to assist them to clear trauma, deal with grief, illness, relationship issues, attachment deficits and goal attainment. I help couples enhance communication, sexual passion, and differentiation. I have experience with people of all sexual orientations and many ethnic and cultural backgrounds. As a social worker, I attend to issues of community, ethnicity, class, gender and "outsider" status.

I'm a synthesizer of therapy techniques. I don't believe that any one method holds the key to every problem. Important tools and perspectives in my work include EMDR, Ego State, Cognitive, Object Relations, Energy Psychologies and Movement therapies.

See Client/Practice Information, including privacy statement.

What is Trauma?

The American Psychiatric Association's (2000) definition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) tells us that PTSD comes after "a life-threatening event" that creates "intense fear, helplessness, or horror." It goes on to say that these events can include rape, war, car accidents, or cataclysms events. People with PTSD suffer intrusive dreams or visual, cognitive, or physical flashbacks of the event and a sense that it is still happening in the present. They try to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma. When they are reminded, they can have huge physical and emotional reactions. They may feel numb, or hyperaroused, hopeless, estranged, and not themselves. They may be sleepless, angry, and find it hard to focus. And they may feel that they or the world are doomed. If symptoms happen within a month of the bad event, they are called acute stress disorder After a month, these symptoms are PTSD.

(From my Trauma Treatment Handbook: Protocols Across the Spectrum, W.W. Norton & Company, 2010)

What is EMDR?

EMDR connects the "here and now" parts of your brain to the "there and then" trauma parts, until your brain says, "Oh, it's over. I'm okay." You focus on the memory of the traumatic event, the thoughts about it, the awareness of you're here-and-now emotions and sensations while responding to eye movements, hand taps or alternating tones. Your brain takes you through the event, and then it fades. EMDR has been around for 20 years and is backed by dozens of research studies proving that it works and is less distressing than many other trauma therapies.

EMDR works quickly on one-event traumas. It works more slowly on pervasive childhood trauma and neglect. It's been successfully used with performance enhancement, anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, phantom limb pain and other medical-related trauma including multiple-chemical sensitivities, and many other issues.

To see a short video (by the EMDR International Association) where EMDR patients share their EMDR healing stories, please click here

What is Ego State Therapy?

"Most of us have ego states, those bundles of neurons that manifest different moods, behaviors, and reactions depending on the demands of our external and internal environments. Think about yourself playing a game . . . driving on a familiar road . . . working with a difficult client . . . doing your shopping . . .walking into a party where you don't know anyone . . .or arguing with your beloved. Each of these situations calls forth a different set of reactions, a slightly (or maybe vastly) different response to your inner and outer situation. If you had a benign, well-supported childhood and later life, your ego states, or "parts" "live in the present; feel and manage the full range of emotions; hold positive beliefs about self and world, engage in appropriate behaviors, and have an adaptive point of view" (Schmidt, 2009, p.18) and are likely tied to ages and activities. "Every time I play with the dog, I revert to my eight-year-old self." "I always feel like a teenager when I walk into a party." "As soon as I sit down in my office chair, I become 'the therapist'. When I leave the office, I lose about twenty years of authority and responsibility." You probably can transition smoothly from one state to the other. And you If you were an abused or neglected child, you might have dissociative Emotional Parts (EP's) that would involve well trodden wide Action (SD) or Emotional (Affect theory, Panksepp) systems that may be fast to fire, intense in expression, and disconnected from adult problem-solving, and current reality. In some cases, particularly involving severe and chronic abuse and neglect,, you may have several Emotional Parts and "functioning in the here and now" parts, some of which may have strong separate identities, and some of which may be mutually amnestic. At any hint or reminder of threat your brain activates six-lane freeways of reactive selves/parts/ego states. "Wounded ego states [i.e. dissociative parts] . . . live in the past; are stuck in painful emotions, hold negative, irrational beliefs about self and world; engaged in unwanted or inappropriate behaviors; and have a maladaptive point of view. (Schmidt, p.18.)"

(From Trauma Treatment Handbook, Protocols Across the Spectrum. Norton, 2010.)

Ego state therapy works with these parts of us to clear trauma and promote conscious choice of how to react and function in the here and now. There are many kinds of ego state therapies. All involve bringing parts to consciousness, bringing the most adult parts of us conscious control, and healing old distress.

Schmidt, S. J. (2009). The developmental needs meeting strategy: A model for healing adults with childhood attachment wounds. San Antonio, TX: DNMS Institute.