What in the world is EMDR?


Last week I completed part 1 on the road to EMDR therapy training. It was the most fulling and emotional taxing trainings I have ever engaged in. It was 1000% worth it!

EMDR has been proven to be one of the most effective treatments for people with trauma. Because so many people have trauma, I treat people with trauma in my therapy practice. I also provide clinical supervision and need to keep the clinical tools in my tool box sharp. At the end of the day I wanted to ensure I can offer the best therapy practices to my clients. 


As a black therapist the majority of my clients are black singles, black couples, or people in a multicultural relationship. The history of generational trauma runs deep for many, and I feel it’s critical for people of color to have access to clinicians they identify with who are trauma trained. 


What exactly is EMDR you may ask?


EMDR, as with most therapy approaches focuses on the present concerns of people, while going back. The approach of EMDR believes past emotionally charged experiences and trauma tend to overly influence the present emotions and thoughts a person believes about themselves. One common example of this is a person may have deep feelings of being worthless, although they know they have to be a worthwhile person.


EMDR Therapy helps you break through the emotional blocks that keep people from living a healthy emotionally life.


How exactly does EMDR achieve this? 


EMDR uses rapid sets of eye movements to help people “update” distbuting experiencing, similarly to what occurs in deep sleep know as REM sleep. During REM sleep people alternate between regular sleep and REM. This sleep pattern helps people process things that are troubling.


EMDR Therapy replicates this sleep pattern by alternating between sets of eye movements or tapping and brief reports about what you are noticing. This alternating process helps people “update “the memories to a healthier present perspective. 


EMDR really works. in complete transparency I was skeptical at first. Maybe it’s the Brooklyn in me and I needed to experience it to believe it’s effectiveness. EMDR really works and I am a believer!

If you are grappling with trauma from your childhood, a recent incident seeking support from a therapist trained in EMDR may be worth exploring. 

The Armor can come off sometimes, right?

Vanessa Watson-Hill, LCSW

The gift of armor has been passed down for generations for black women. Out of necessity armor was and is still needed to navigate many social forces such as racism, sexism, and classism in the United States.

The armor born out of self-protection and used to cope with weight of racism has become a permanent fixture in many women’s wardrobe.

Many generations later we are armed with data that tells us the weight of the armor many black girls and women wear is too heavy.

For over a decade I worked as medical social work in New York City. Every day on my units, I saw the toll of the armor black women carry. The majority of my younger patient’s admitted with complications of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease where often black women.

My patient ‘s with new amputations due to the complications of diabetes often where black women. My patients who needed to be placed on dialysis due to kidney failure from Hypertension 9 times out 10 black were women in their forties or fifties.

The CDC reports HIV is the third leading cause of death for Black woman thirty-five to fifty-four. This was reflected of many of the newly diagnosed patients with HIV in my work. My patients who grappled with crippling depression often were black women. Sadly, many of my patients who declined therapy referrals often were black women.

All of this is heavy stuff, complex, and there are no easy solutions.

I can offer three tips to help you begin to take action to address how this impacts your life.

The first step is self-awareness. Many times, women are not aware they are wearing armor at all. An erosion of self often occurs when you are conditioned to always be strong. That is because you are conditioned to place and think about the needs of everyone else before your needs. In my clinical work I often find my clients who are 95% black women struggle with identifying their needs. This is something I unpack in my capacity as a Therapist.

Going to therapy with a culturally competent therapist in your area may be something that will help you learn more about how your carry your armor. A therapist can help your develop healthier tools to help you with managing your armor.

Commit to intention self-care practices. Selfcare can be taking a walk in the morning before the kids get up. Self-care can be listening to relaxing music during your two-hour commute home. Selfcare can be sitting down and reading a non-work-related book for one hour a week.

Wearing armor 24/7 365 is killing many of us. Sis, I want you to live a full and healthy life.

Let’s start breaking the chains of unhealthy pattens that simply is not serving us in 2019.