Counseling Resource Blog

EMDR: Treatment Accelerator

You may have heard of EMDR therapy, but wondering what it is, how it works, and if it might be the right treatment for you. EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy and is used to treat a variety of mental health issues including but not limited to trauma, grief and loss, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, substance abuse, eating disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorders. EMDR can also be used to treat challenges such as low self-esteem and addiction (various types: shopping, gambling, internet, the list goes on). Studies show EMDR is one of the most powerful therapeutic treatments available to-date for the treatment of trauma. My aspirations for this article are to provide you with a clear explanation of what EMDR is and how it works, in a simplistic way.

Ok, so What is EMDR Therapy?
EMDR is a treatment developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro that consists of 8 standardized stages. The main component of the treatment is that it encompasses bilateral stimulation to activate the information processing system in the brain, while an individual consciously thinks of specified negative memories and/or thoughts.
The information processing system is what is activated during REM sleep (rapid eye movement-the 5th stage of the sleep cycle). During REM sleep, we dream while our brain diligently tries to organize all the information attained from our experiences that day.

During EMDR treatment, bilateral stimulation can be achieved by using one or more of the following methods, varying in intensity, frequency, and number of sets:

  1. Eye movements: this form of bilateral stimulation involves using sense of sight. Clients visually follow an object or lights that are moving back and forth.
  2. Tactile: this form of bilateral stimulation involves using sense of touch. This is usually accomplished with tapping or the use of pulsars that vibrate gently, alternating from left to right.
  3. Audio: this form of bilateral stimulation involves using sense of hearing. Clients listen to gentle tones that alternate back and forth, while wearing head phones or ear buds.

How Does EMDR Work?
It is believed that during traumatic and/or negative experiences, associated information may not process completely during REM sleep. Therefore, during EMDR treatment, when the information processing system is activated while the client actively thinks of these negative events, the brain is able to more effectively process the information, helping people heal and alleviate reported symptoms of distress.

In my practice, I provide an extensive assessment including varying psychometrics to ensure suitable candidacy and to prepare clients for EMDR treatment. I use a combination of all three bilateral stimulation during treatment when appropriate, utilizing pulsars made specifically for EMDR treatment. I often combine cognitive behavioral therapies with EMDR, as possessing strong coping skills are essential to managing life’s challenges. EMDR can be viewed as a treatment accelerator as it helps remove barriers that could be preventing one from moving on from a traumatic event or thought(s).

If you think you may benefit from EMDR therapy, consult with a licensed professional counselor to discuss your specific situation and needs to identify whether you are a good candidate for EMDR. Treatment can be very emotionally draining and emotionally painful as clients are urged to consciously think about traumatic memories, feelings, and/or thoughts they typically try very hard to suppress or repress.

For much more detailed information on EMDR, please see As always, you are welcome to contact me if you have additional questions.

4 Steps to STOP Self-Bullying

Many of us know what bullying is. Chances are that most of us have experienced it at one point or another throughout our lives. It’s a painful experience that can have lasting effects. Currently, many efforts go toward raising awareness about bullying, particularly in schools. These programs encourage those being bullied as well as those who witness bullying, to stand up and join the fight against it.

Some great resources include websites such as :

Text-A-Tip is offered to students of traditional high schools in Douglas County (among others) to anonymously report bullying to law enforcement. But, what if your bully, is YOU?

What is self-bullying and why is it an issue?

Self-bullying is when we criticize and nitpick about a vast array of issues, from the smallest, insignificant details of our flaws to the bigger things we don’t like about ourselves. We do this in the worst way possible: direct and often cruel, on-going self-talk that includes statements that we would probably never, ever, say to a loved one or even a stranger. Most people don’t realize it, but they engage in self-criticism several times a day. However, some people may be doing it much, much more than that. Self-bullying can begin in childhood and brew into an acute issue by becoming pervasive in one’s life (in varying severity), negatively impacting school performance, work performance, and relationships. No one is immune. It is an epidemic that affects people of all ages, gender, intelligence, ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds. In my practice, I often see it occurring with high achievers that tend to have perfectionist characteristics.

You might identify with one of these self-bullying scenarios:

  1. You’re the only one that knows it is happening (you bully yourself often, but no one would ever know it because you act like everything is fine).
  2. You might not realize you’re doing it or not be aware of the frequency/severity of the situation.
  3. You realize it, but do not know how to stop the persistent, judgmental automatic thoughts.

So many things in life are out of our control, which can leave us feeling stressed out and helpless. The good news is self-bullying is not one of them! A vital part to stopping this self-defeating behavior is to first acknowledge that it is happening and then taking accountability (which entails accepting that you have a choice whether or not to engage in it). Upon building awareness and taking accountability, you hold all the power to stop it.

Are you still debating whether you bully yourself or just engage in harmless self-criticism? Becoming the best version of ourselves is a lifelong task and is best attained with positive, encouraging, self-motivating behaviors. Ask yourself if you engage in any of the following:

  • Unkind statements regarding one’s failure to perform at an expected level in various settings (such as an exam at school, a project/presentation at work, or social interactions)
  • Overly critical thoughts/statements regarding specific parts of one’s body
  • Harsh thoughts/statements about one’s skills, intelligence, and/or overall self-worth

Repetitive negative thoughts during the course of your day can influence your behavior, self-esteem and self-image, preventing you from accomplishing your goals and enjoying a fulfilling life. If you are ready to take a stand against self-bullying, try the following steps:

Start becoming mindful of your thoughts. Upon experiencing a self-defeating thought, observe and notice you are being critical of yourself, without judging yourself further for doing so.

Think about what you just said to yourself. Say it out loud. How would you respond if someone you love said that about themselves? How would that make you feel? What would you say or do in that situation?

Offer yourself the same courtesy you would to others. Make a conscious effort to notice the positive. Make a list of attributes, characteristics, accomplishments, and your abilities of which you are proud. (Things your body does for you on a daily basis OR academic, personal, or business accomplishments you have achieved throughout your life).

Place your energy into encouraging and motivating yourself to achieve self-acceptance. If you are unhappy with how a situation turned out, you will gain much more from the experience by learning from it, than belittling yourself for it. Focus on your strengths and use your list of affirmations to help keep you motivated.

Most importantly, give yourself time. It’s a process to become aware of negative automatic thoughts and influence your mindset to stimulate positive automatic thoughts. Every day that goes by, you will get better at mindfully redirecting your mind to positive thoughts, while reducing negative ones. Every person and situation is unique. If you are struggling with these steps, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. A therapist can help guide and support you as you incorporate these changes to your conscious thoughts. Keep in mind- you possess everything you need to achieve this goal. Be patient with yourself and seize as many opportunities as possible to practice mindfulness.

5 Ways to Spice up your Long-term Relationship

1) Maintaining positivity

Daily life stressors can cause partners to limit their conversations to all the negative things that occur throughout their day. It’s easy to get caught up in discussing that annoying co-worker or the driver that cut you off on your way to work.  While it is nice to have your partner to vent to with frustrating experiences, it is vital to the health of the relationship to maintain a balance that includes positive conversation flow as well. Studies have shown that smiling stimulates Dopamine production, the neurotransmitter responsible for inducing feelings of happiness.  So, one of the ways you can add positivity and happiness into your daily interactions with your partner is by sharing with them something funny you heard that day or just being silly/funny in general.

2) It’s all about the small gestures

In the beginning of relationships, people often spend a great deal of time trying to receive the attention and affection of their partner. They take initiative to let them know how much they love and desire them. Throughout the course of the relationship, these gestures might start to lessen and even become nonexistent. Small acts throughout the day to show affection toward your partner will let them know you care, and might even serve as foreplay by nightfall. So, if you are looking to heat things up in the bedroom, it might help to take a closer look at your daily interactions throughout the day. Engaging in small acts of kindness such as making them breakfast or coffee in the morning (the acts you engage in should reflect your partner’s interests and likes), sending flirtatious texts/emails to them, or verbally expressing your appreciation for them (be as specific as you can to let them know what it is you love and appreciate about them; try to avoid vague compliments) will send the message that you care for and love your partner.

3) Add Variety

When you are in a long term relationship things can get repetitive and well, boring at times. New couples have so much to talk about while getting to know each other. Everything that is discussed is new information to each partner, adding anticipation and excitement. When you get to the point where you find yourself “going through the motions” by doing the same routine every week and not enjoying your time together, it’s time for a change! A change that doesn’t involve finding a new partner! Drastic spontaneity isn’t the key here (although some might enjoy that), but it is most effective when you try to engage in an activity that interests both of you and that neither of you have tried before. Some examples are going on a hike on a new trail together, going on that mutually aspired vacation, trying a new sport, or a new type of food. Sharing experiences that are new together can strengthen your connection, add excitement in your relationship, and help you build positive memories together.

4) Take care of yourself

Maintaining your health by exercising, eating healthy, and keeping up on personal hygiene can not only provide longevity to your life, but to your romantic relationship as well. Exercising will keep your blood pumping and give you a rush of adrenaline/epinephrine, which will naturally give you more energy and boost your mood. Eating healthy can provide you the energy and offer good balanced nutrition that boost the benefits of exercising. Adopting new exercise routines can be something fun you can do with your partner, a friend, or enjoy doing by yourself.

Keeping up with hygiene is sometimes overlooked as relationships age. At the beginning of relationships, couples often try to look their best, but as time passes and life changes (especially if children are involved) it can become increasingly difficult to maintain on a daily basis. It may be more realistic to get dressed up for one another on a planned date night. This can be done whether you are going out on the town together or having a romantic dinner at home. Looking your best can increase your self-esteem and might entice your partner to do the same. Feeling better about yourself can increase your confidence and improve your self-esteem, which consequently might increase your libido. An increase in sexual desire might encourage couples to take advantage of opportunities for intimacy and love making (which they may have otherwise passed up on), resulting in experiences that strengthen their adoration for one another.

5) Go ahead and fight…the right way

Fighting is bad, right? Not necessarily. Studies show it is more significant how couples argue rather than the frequency at which they argue. Couples that argue a lot and learn how to compromise in a way that makes them both feel valued and validated have a better chance at maintaining a happy long term relationship compared to couples who avoid having an argument about things that bother them or use accusatory and/or abusive language during their fights.

* It is important to note that the couples that compromise do not necessarily always “meet in the middle” in each argument. For example, if your partner loves a specific music artist and wants to go to a concert with you and you don’t, there is no middle ground. You either go, or don’t go. If this is very important to your partner, you might be more successful in compromising by agreeing to go, if he or she agrees to engage in an activity of your choosing for the next outing together. Engaging in reciprocal compromising validates each of your feelings and expresses that you value each other’s interests, wants, and needs.


I hope you found this to be informative and practical advice on improving your romantic relationships. My goal is to help couples have fun and enjoy life together, despite the hardships that are inevitable in long-term romantic relationships. If you have any questions, would like a FREE phone consultation, or set an appointment, please call (720) 580-1060 or email me directly at

EMDR: Treatment Accelerator

You may have heard of EMDR therapy, but wondering what it is, how it works, and if it might be the right treatment for you. …

4 Steps to STOP Self-Bullying

Many of us know what bullying is. Chances are that most of us have experienced it at one point or another throughout our …

5 Ways to Spice up your Long-term Relationship

1) Maintaining positivity Daily life stressors can cause partners to limit their conversations to all the negative things …