What is EMDR?


We are pleased to announce that Balance and Potential is now offering EMDR trauma therapy. Interested in learning more about how EMDR therapy can help? We talked with clinical EMDR therapist and trauma specialist, Renee Caverly-Gillett. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.




What is EMDR?

Renee Caverly-Gillett, M.Ed., M.S., LPC, NCC, CPCS

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a therapy proven effective in clinical trials to work through, and reprocess, traumatic experiences and negative life events. One thing that sets EMDR apart is that it is a way of working through trauma without experiencing extreme distress.

Recovery is relatively quick as compared to other therapies for trauma. Also, EMDR can be simultaneously effective on multiple traumas, if they are interrelated.

What would be an example of that?

So, for example, say all your traumas have to do with fear. You have trauma where your house is broken into, and you do EMDR to address that trauma. That can better prepare you to address another trauma to do with fear, such as physical or sexual assault.




   “Everybody has different reactions and experiences with negative life events.”





So, this can address traumas from your past. Can it treat trauma in the present?

Yes, absolutely. We can work to identify your day-to-day triggers. Doing that can help you calm down your emotions. Say, for example, you still have to associate with your ex-husband and that is something of a trigger for you. Let’s work on that for three to four sessions, so that you are better able to handle that. But, what’s affecting you day-to-day is likely rooted in a past event.

It’s sounding like trauma is pretty common.

Trauma is defined as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” This can range anywhere from combat, sexual, emotional, and/or verbal abuse to a divorce, a loss, and/or a chronic illness (negative life events) etc. Some people are not aware of how traumatic negative life experiences can be.

Everybody has different reactions and experiences with negative life events. A divorce might be traumatic for one child and another child is not traumatized. Using EMDR protocol, we can check how traumatized someone has been by their negative life experience, in other words, by their trauma.




“If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or panic attacks, these are often symptoms of trauma.”





How does that work?

There is a specific protocol that an EMDR therapist must follow. In addition to that, I have my clients write down a list of positive life experiences and a list of negative life experiences. Most people recall more negative experiences that are memorable. You may say, “This happened, but, I don’t think it’s affected me.” However, triggers you have might indicate that that’s not completely true.

Why might someone suspect they had not been affected by a trauma?

Out of necessity, in many cases. Say your house is broken into, and you’re thinking, I need to protect my kids, I need to call 911. The next day, your life is supposed to go on like it always did. I need to take the kids to school and pick them up. So, the brain pushes that off to the side so that you can function and survive.

The brain is designed to heal. It represses or blocks the intensity of the trauma. However, if you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or panic attacks, these are often symptoms of trauma.

So, how does it work? Is this hypnotism?

No, it is not hypnotism, nor is it related to hypnotism. You are in complete control the entire time.




“We work to get you to a place where you can go through life and remember the trauma, but feel normal.”





So, what is the eventual goal of EMDR therapy?

The goal is to reduce and work toward eventually eliminating your negative symptoms. We work to get you to a place where you can go through life and remember the trauma, but feel normal.

EMDR can help to decrease symptoms of distress in the moment, as well as longer term symptoms of anxiety or depression. So, for example, meeting with your ex-husband, you may begin to stand up straighter and feel more self-confident. Things like that.

Is it possible we may suffer from trauma stemming from the pandemic?

Yes. People are already experiencing extreme anxiety. The loss of a job, being isolated socially, medical situations, these can all be very traumatic. This is a very emotional time for everyone.

That said, our bodies and brains are made to heal. We are survivors. EMDR can empower people and help them to get their lives back.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Call me and ask me some questions. It’s never a bad time to begin working through trauma.



Renee Caverly-Gillett M.Ed., M.S., LPC, NCC, CPCS






Renee is currently accepting new clients. Call Balance and Potential at (678) 644-0039 or email Renee@BalanceAndPotential.com for more information.


5755 North Point Parkway,
Suite 79

Alpharetta, GA 30022

(678) 644-0039

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