Center for Creative Living

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EMDR - a therapy technique to help heal old trauma and psychological blocks.

            EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) is a therapeutic technique first discovered by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the early 1990's. It was originally used to help patients suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. As time went by, studies showed it to be very successful in treating PTSD, and it began to be used by therapists throughout the world to treat a variety of other issues. At the Center we have successfully used this versatile technique since 1995 to help people recover from such diverse problems as low self-esteem, excessive anxiety, procrastination, reactivity, childhood trauma, inappropriate anger, and other life issues.

            EMDR is based upon the belief that all of us have memories of past events stored in our sub-conscious mind. It involves having the patient target problem memories/feelings while doing certain simple eye movements, or other forms of bi-lateral stimulation. The memories targeted (many from early childhood) contain pictures, smells, feelings and judgments regarding the patient’s life. When memories are painful, it is normal for our brain to isolate them. In an attempt to keep from feeling pain, we avoid thinking about difficult past events.

            In doing this, little islands are created in our brains ... isolated neuro-networks ... of old painful memories. Sealed within these memories are childish and inaccurate perceptions and judgments about the events, about who we are, and about life itself. For example, an adult may have isolated memories about the death of a favorite pet from his/her preschool years. These might be stored in the brain along with feelings of anger, sadness, and guilt.

            Many of the judgments that were formed in childhood are not accurate, or only partially accurate. Since these judgments and beliefs are isolated from our higher thinking processes (they are sub-conscious), we are unable to edit or re-evaluate these early painful memories. They are like little islands that do not have a bridge to our frontal lobe - which is the area of critical thinking. This makes it impossible to evaluate situations using our current level of awareness.

            Even though these painful memories hold inaccurate assumptions and are isolated, many of our present day beliefs, and many of the decisions we make on a daily basis, are impacted by them. These little islands of painful memories can distort the "MAP" of how we see ourselves, and how we experience the world. EMDR is a technique that helps us to build a bridge, a neurological connection, between the old isolated neuro-networks and our brain’s ability to reason logically. We are then able to evaluate and re-process our earlier faulty beliefs. We can update our MAP.

            For example, a man may have decided he was not loveable because he felt abandoned by his father when he was quite young. He could benefit from EMDR as an aid to help him better evaluate himself and his life. The therapy might help him to see clearly that he was not responsible for his father’s decision. He can then understand that his life-long feelings of low self worth are not justified by the earlier painful event. EMDR is an excellent intervention for adults molested as children (AMAC).

            EMDR is a very powerful and effective therapeutic tool that can help us tap into our creative energies. It can help us to remove the psychological blocks that may have impeded our progress and kept us from living the fulfilling life we deserve. It can help us reduce angry re-activity. It can help us be the parents our children want us to be. And the good news, ... this positive restructuring usually takes place much more rapidly with EMDR than would be the case using the more traditional types of therapy.


    One of the beautiful things about EMDR is that there are no right or wrong experiences. Whatever comes up for you during a session can be used to aid in the healing process. You will begin identifying (and later processing) old negative beliefs. Clients generally leave the sessions feeling empowered by their new insights.

    We will explain the process in detail before the first EMDR session, and we will help you to integrate new information so that you can begin focusing your energies on building the life you desire.

    At the Center for Creative Living we have been using EMDR to help clients since 1995. Cliff Crain and Liz Hannigan are both experienced Level Two EMDR practitioners. Please contact the Center by phone (925-855-1745) or email us now at if you would like more information about this exciting technique and how it might be helpful in your specific situation.

            Many of us grew up in homes that did not encourage healthy development of the true self. Often we become adults with CORE ISSUES that are toxic to healthy living and relationship growth. If you can identify with any of the issues listed below, you may want to consider therapy, or EMDR.

            Which Core Issues are most troublesome for you now?

                                                CORE ISSUES*

            1. All-or-nothing thinking or "black and white" thinking
            2. Control issues
            3. Being overly responsible
            4. Trust issues
            5. Feelings (being flooded with them and/or controlled by them)
            6. Neglecting own needs
            7. High tolerance for inappropriate behavior
            8. Low (unhealthy) self-esteem
            9. Being real and/or feeling authentic about your life
            10. Un-grieved losses
            11. Fear of abandonment and/or being overly loyal
            12. Difficulty resolving conflicts
            13. Holding onto grudges and resentments
            14. Not wanting to be touched
            15. Difficulty setting clear and appropriate boundaries
            16. Difficulty giving and receiving love / relationship issues


* Many of these Core Issues were identified by Charles Whitfield, MD, in "Healing the Child Within"

A picture encouraging readers to learn about the Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing technique.

For more information and
educational videos about EMDR, go to

You can download a simple two page article about EMDR by clicking on the link below:


What is EMDR ?


Even if you are on the right track,
you'll get run over if you just sit there.

- Will Rogers

Center for Creative Living
199 East Linda Mesa, Suite 4
Danville, California 94526
Phone: (925) 855-1745   Fax: (925) 829-9426


Serving Alamo, Concord, Dublin, Danville,
Lafayette, Pleasanton, Pleasant Hill, San Ramon, Walnut Creek
and the entire Bay Area since 1994