EMDR Therapy - A Truly Holistic Treatment
A young woman in her late 20’s came to my office complaining of panic attacks that left her
devastated. When faced with simple tasks, such as taking out the trash, making dinner, or
cleaning the house, she felt utterly overwhelmed and simply could not function. She thought
of herself as a “failure.” Every little mistake she made (little things like using the “wrong” salad
dressing) sent her thoughts into a negative spiral that often ended with suicidal thoughts. As we
worked together, it became clear that thoughts about not pleasing her husband usually sparked her panic attacks. At first, I wondered if she was in an abusive relationship, but after some questioning, I realized she wasn’t. Her husband suffered from anxiety, which didn’t help. But overall, he was supportive, had reasonable expectations, and worried about her outlandish behavior.
We started doing EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) with some
childhood memories of her strict and volatile father. She experienced fear and anxiety as if
she were a scared little five year old girl. Through the reprocessing, she found ways to protect
herself, and she started to understand that her behavior was not the cause of his rage. She
finally felt like she was in control of her own emotions and could handle whatever
feelings came up. It was liberating and empowering for her.
She started to transform completely. She reported feeling more confident. She started working
and taking pride in her work. She began to stand up for herself to her husband. Asking him to
clean up after himself and take out the trash. It was an amazing and FAST transformation.
This is just one of many success stories that I have seen in my practice since becoming an
EMDR therapist. Client after client, I have seen drastic changes in behavior, mood, thoughts,
I always claimed to be a “holistic” therapist because I talked to my clients about food,
exercise, supplements, and the connection between mind and body (I am also trained in holistic
nutrition). I worked with clients to become more in touch with their bodies and how they felt
emotion in their bodies. But I kept running into limitations. I knew that the changes that needed
to happen were not solely in the rational thinking mind, nor were they solely about being more in
touch with their bodies. So I read, took training, and read some more -which led me to EMDR.
EMDR was the answer that I was looking for. It is truly holistic, strength-based therapy. It
incorporates components of psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, and somatic therapies. It has
elements of positive psychology and mindfulness. It addresses the past, present, and future
lives of clients. It is truly “holistic” and has been the most effective and fastest treatment I have
If you know someone who has PTSD, who has self-defeating beliefs about
themselves, or who cannot “let go” of the past, tell them about EMDR. I would love to
spread the word about this therapy I have become passionate about. I encourage you to
contact me if you have questions about EMDR or would like to send your clients for
supplemental therapy where they are getting “stuck” in traditional talk therapy. Feel free to
contact me anytime!
Kelly O’Donnell is a licensed clinical social worker, an EMDR therapist, and a certified holistic
health coach. She specializes in helping women get mental clarity to realize their
full potential - mind, body, and spirit. Reduced anxiety, freedom from past traumas, joyful
mood, weight loss, and gratitude for life are just a few benefits of working with Kelly.