EMDR Therapy for Black Folks: Fact or Fiction? Part 2

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As I type this, winter has begun, and I am looking out of a window. I see the sun shining, a blue sky, waves in a lake, and trees swaying out of this window. This moment is a reminder of the adjustments each season brings. It’s interesting how the mind and body are often resistant to change. Yet, every time a change occurs, we adjust. We reach a new normal and continue to thrive. Resistance to change is one of the most common indications of a trauma history. You see, many trauma survivors are not BFFs with change. This is because, for them, change also equals pain.

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Please know, as a trauma therapist, I understand this well. As a Black therapist, parts of me have lived this truth. As an EMDR therapist, I know that we can re-story the stories we tell ourselves about our pain. As an integrative and holistic therapist, I know that EMDR therapy can help. This post is the second part of our EMDR Therapy For Black Folks: Fact or Fiction series. In part 1, we provided a brief overview of EMDR therapy and addressed a few myths. In part 2, we will continue addressing myths. At Revitalizing Inner Self Essence, we believe that knowledge is power. Let’s look at how EMDR therapy can help you take your control back.

Debunking more common concerns about EMDR Therapy for Black folks

EMDR and the brain- What’s the connection?

Often, learning about EMDR also brings knowledge of our nervous system and our brain. As a Black therapist, it is vital to help you understand this connection. Trauma impacts our nervous system. Our nervous system receives signals from our brain to help us assess safety and danger. These signals are sent differently in trauma survivors, often more frequently but with inaccuracy at times. In other words, our bodies have a built-in alarm system. The alarm system of trauma survivors sends alerts and helpful responses. Sometimes these responses are accurate, while other times, these are false alarms. Using EMDR helps you understand your body’s response to these signals while overtime aiming to desensitize them.

How does EMDR help the brain?

As mentioned earlier, our bodies have a built-in alarm system. Things such as images, scents, words, events, or places activate this alarm system. EMDR therapy can update this alarm system to change how we respond to specific memories and distressing events.  As a result, EMDR therapy helps you rewire your brain’s responses to help your alarm system signal more accurately.

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What can I expect with EMDR therapy? 

If you begin therapy at RISE using a combination of talk therapy and mind-body medicine skills, beginning EMDR will feel slightly different. EMDR utilizes standardized protocols to desensitize activating emotions. Because of this, you’ll notice the use of manuals and EMDR specific worksheets. You’ll also experience less talking from the therapist and more observing/guiding. Lastly, you may experience various physiological responses such as crying or shaking. It is important to note that these bodily responses are a normal and essential part of releasing stored trauma. 

When do we start EMDR therapy?

At Revitalizing Inner Self Essence, beginning EMDR is slightly different. EMDR has a total of 8 phases. As a holistic and integrative trauma therapist, we extend the first 2 phases of EMDR to ensure readiness. Phase 1 is client history. Phase 2 is the preparation phase. During these phases, the therapist and the client develop a therapeutic relationship. As a trauma therapist, I am also assessing your mind-body connection. In other words, we extend these phases to build trust and to teach the client skills to observe and regulate physiological responses. Once the client communicates an ability to calm unwanted emotions, we are ready to begin EMDR. Because this is based on individual comfortability, there is no set number of sessions before we start EMDR.

Start EMDR therapy with a Black therapist in Baltimore, MD

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For many Black folks the idea of change or trying something new can feel scary. Even with a professional, it can still feel scary. Because while it is about trusting the professional, it also about trusting yourself and believing in your worthiness. It can be so easy to doubt your ability to heal and transform. Being cautious has saved us in so many ways. I get this and because of this please allow me to remind you, that anything you tell a therapist, you’ve already survived. Again, everything that you’ve been through, you’ve survived. At R.I.S.E, genuine help and healing are the focus. We journey to healing together, led by you and your goals. I’m so ready to help you and I don’t take helping you lightly.  Get started with EMDR therapy now:

  1. Contact me here with any questions about counseling.
  2. No questions and ready to get started with therapy? Schedule a consultation now.
  3. Say yes to taking your power back.

Other Services at Revitalizing Inner Self Essence in Baltimore, MD

The decision to start therapy is not an easy one. Finding the right therapist can feel hard. But I want to assure you that as a Black therapist, I am dedicated to creating a welcoming environment for you to process trauma and reconnect with yourself and your life. At my Baltimore-area practice, I specialize in helping survivors of trauma with EMDR therapy using holistic and integrative skills.  If you’re ready to get started, I am too. If you have further questions about me or my practice, please contact me.