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Kammer Quoted in Self Magazine on EMDR


Fordham GSS clinical professor Rachelle Kammer, Ph.D., was quoted in a recent SELF magazine article detailing eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Kammer, an EMDR-certified therapist, also sat down with GSS News recently to shed light on this treatment modality and her experience with the field.

The SELF article was also mentioned in a feature piece the same magazine wrote on American musician Kesha, who has been a recipient of EMDR.

Some excerpts from the article:

EMDR was originally developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and like many scientific discoveries, it came about almost by accident: “Dr. Francine Shapiro, the psychologist who originated it, was walking through a park, thinking about some upsetting memory, when she noticed that when she moved her eyes back and forth, she felt calmer,” Rachelle Kammer, PhD, LCSW, an EMDR-certified therapist and clinical professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, tells SELF.

“Some people go through a traumatic or otherwise stressful experience and they’re okay, but for others, the original sounds, feelings, images, and thoughts can stay locked in their brain and body,” says Dr. Kammer. In that case, they’ll either keep reliving it—which is what happens with PTSD—or the associated emotions and memories may end up manifesting as depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, she adds.

And while studies have yet to show any harm from the treatment, either, the EMDR Institute, founded by Dr. Shapiro, does point out that “as with any form of psychotherapy, there may be a temporary increase in distress” as well as an unexpectedly “high level of emotion or physical sensation” as you recall memories in a session. Experts like Dr. Kammer also note that EMDR needn’t be an either-or choice and is often used in conjunction with traditional talk therapies.

According to the EMDR Institute, this type of therapy follows an eight-phase protocol. The entire process—from start to finish—typically takes just four to 12 sessions to complete, though Dr. Kammer notes that it can go on longer for people with more complex issues (like multiple traumas, for example). Each session usually lasts from 60 to 90 minutes.

In the first phase, the therapist takes your full history (they might ask you about your support system and whether you’ve done therapy before, for example). In phase two, they’ll explain how the EMDR process works and help you develop ways to calm your body and mind when faced with emotional distress (what EMDR experts call “resourcing”). Some examples: identifying go-to images that evoke peaceful, positive emotions (like a favorite hiking trail or sandy beach) as well as proven stress-reduction tools like deep breathing exercises, says Dr. Kammer.

“We’re just asking for the headlines. I don’t need the client to tell me everything about whatever it is they want to address,” Dr. Kammer says. Instead, she explains, the goal is to get you focusing on the memory just enough to bring up some of the thoughts and emotions associated with it.

Finally, phase eight, or “reevaluation,” happens at the start of the next session, when you and your therapist will evaluate how well the treatment is working, based on your level of emotional discomfort. Ultimately, the goal with EMDR is that the memory will still be there, but it’ll no longer feel like it’s wreaking havoc on your life, according to Dr. Kammer.

As Dr. Kammer explains to her clients, “EMDR can help people process these experiences and eventually get back to their natural state, where they’re no longer emotionally overwhelmed.”


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