Jewish Family Serives Now Offering EMDR Trauma Therapy

Published Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A grant from the Thomases Family Endowment of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation allowed for Jewish Family Services to send two counselors for EMDR training. As one of those counselors, I recently completed the part 1  training. Now, Jewish Family Services is offering EMDR trauma therapy.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a form of therapy that helps people heal from trauma or other distressing life experiences. EMDR therapy has been extensively researched and has demonstrated effectiveness for trauma.  EMDR is a therapy proven to help reduce symptoms related to anxiety, depression, addiction, and other emotional problems.

EMDR has a direct effect on the way the brain processes information and recovers from traumatic memories and events. This process involves communication between the amygdala (the alarm signal for stressful events), the hippocampus (which assists with learning, including memories about safety and danger), and the prefrontal cortex (which analyzes and controls behavior and emotion). While many times traumatic experiences can be managed and resolved spontaneously, they may not be processed without help. Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create feelings of being overwhelmed, of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.


EMDR therapy does not require talking in detail about the distressing issue or homework between sessions. EMDR, rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process. EMDR therapy is designed to resolve unprocessed traumatic memories in the brain. Part of the therapy includes alternating eye movements, sounds, or taps. For many clients, EMDR therapy can be completed in fewer sessions than other psychotherapies. People (and research) report making more progress in less time with EMDR therapy than in talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Shay Kahani-Erez has experience with seniors, adults, children, and families from diverse backgrounds and populations. She likes to combine art therapy, mindfulness, talk, and behavior therapy as well as EMDR in her work with clients. Jewish Family Services accepts insurance and offers sliding scale rates. Home counseling is available for homebound clients.

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