The professionals at Hospice of Santa Barbara strive to provide the highest level of service to clients by offering effective, cutting-edge therapies. Dealing with grief and loss is extremely difficult, but a new therapy has emerged to help individuals through difficult times. Called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), the modality has been used effectively to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The therapy uses eye movements in a unique way to process trauma and reframe the raw, vivid imagery associated with it in the hippocampus. As a result, the brain “refiles” the painful memory and individuals can deal with the trauma in a more objective manner.
People with PTSD experience overwhelming and painful emotions whenever they remember a past trauma. Those dealing with loss and grief often have similar reactions to emotional triggers. With EMDR, these negative emotions can be mitigated. EMDR involves the use of dual stimulation—both bilateral eye movements and tones or taps. During the therapy, clients recall past traumas in a safe environment while focusing on an external stimulus, the tone or tap. Practitioners then help clients find insight about the difficult emotions and make more positive associations with current triggers.
Multiple Hospice of Santa Barbara counselors have effectively integrated EMDR into treatment plans after becoming certified in the cutting-edge therapy. As a result of the therapy, many clients have reported greater feelings of ease and comfort than they experienced with talk therapy alone. EMDR does not replace the need for talk therapy, but rather serves as an important complement for clients with particularly difficult grief or trauma.
Those in the greater Santa Barbara area can access the Hospice of Santa Barbara’s grief services free of charge. People interested in EMDR should ask their counselor about the therapy and discuss whether the modality could prove helpful. People can learn more about EMDR and other therapies offered through the hospice online at HospiceOfSantaBarbara.org or by calling the organization directly at (805) 563-8820.