How to Overcome Trauma with EMDR

In this episode of Functional Medicine Research, I speak with therapist Martina Barnes about how EMDR can help people overcome trauma.  I have personally used EMDR with great success in overcoming trauma and I routinely refer for EMDR to help patients get well.  One of the most important aspects of practicing functional medicine is understanding how much trauma can be connected to chronic illness.  Many patients won’t get well until they address their past and how it is affecting their current health issues.  All the healthy diets, supplements, exercise, sleep, exposure to nature, community etc. won’t be enough if there is underlying trauma history wearing you down.


Mental health professionals are severely underutilized yet they should be the first line of therapy for the majority of patients with chronic illness.  Unfortunately, they usually end up being the last.  This interview should help shed some light on the benefits of EMDR and how it can help you heal and get well for lasting health and well-being.

How to Overcome Trauma with EMDR

Below is a transcript on overcoming trauma with EMDR

Dr. Hedberg: Well, welcome everyone to “Functional Medicine Research.” I’m Dr. Hedberg and really excited today to have Martina Barnes on the show. Martina has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Western Carolina University and that was completed in the year 2000. So, many, many years of experience and Martina’s theoretical underpinnings are informed by attachment theories of human development which determine our interpersonal basis for relationships. And when working with individuals together, we seek to understand the attachment wounds developed in childhood and how your style impacts your relationship with yourself and others.

And Martina says you can transform your life by transforming the way your brain and nervous system are wired. She utilizes a range of evidence-based yet cutting-edge holistic modalities such as Trauma Resilience Model, EMDR, which is what we’re gonna be talking about today in detail, Internal Family Systems, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and mindfulness, and Martina has been a speaker and educator at trauma recovery conferences and seminars for victims of murder, suicide, and even sudden death. So, Martina, welcome to the show.

Martina: Thanks, Nick, and great to be here. I’m excited to share what I know about EMDR.

Dr. Hedberg: Yeah. I’m excited as well. This is something that I’ve been wanting someone on the show for a long time to talk about EMDR. This is something that I’ve used myself and recommended to many patients. So, why don’t we just talk about some of the basics and why don’t you give us an idea of what exactly is EMDR and what does it stand for?

Martina: Yeah. Great. So, EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. And it’s a modality that originally only used eye movements to help give the brain bilateral stimulation to help clear trauma. It’s gone to incorporate other types of bilateral stimulation. Maybe hand taps or also bilateral auditory tones can be incorporated as well. And it’s one of the most powerful trauma recovery modalities that I’ve ever utilized. It was discovered in 1988. So, it’s been around quite a long time.

Dr. Hedberg: And who invented EMDR?

Martina: Francine Shapiro who was a psychologist invented EMDR quite by accident. She loved to take long walks and when she was walking, she would notice if she was thinking about something that’s setting or something disturbing that her eyes would dart back and forth, back and forth, and then they would stop darting, and she would notice that she had cleared that disturbing thought. So, it occurred to her that she might be able to develop some kind of protocol that would involve the eye movements to help clear disturbing thoughts. And she first decided to try this on veterans who had PTSD.

Dr. Hedberg: Fascinating. And so, this modality, so, like you said, it’s been around for quite a long time and I’ve had it with two different practitioners. One used the lights and the handheld vibration device.

Martina: Yes.

Dr. Hedberg: And then the other one just used her hand with her finger moving back and forth. So, can you talk about the different ways to do EMDR? Is there any advantage to one way of doing it over the other?

Martina: That’s really up for debate. There’s been a lot of clinical studies on EMDR and some of the clinical studies have indicated or the meta-analysis of several research studies have indicated that there is a higher benefit to doing the eye movement. However, other studies indicate that that’s not necessarily the case, as long as the brain is getting the bilateral stimulation. So, when I began, I would say, probably the first 8 to 10 years, I just use my hand or my fingers and would have the client follow the backend force of my hand with their eyes. And sometimes I would speed up, sometimes I would slow down.

Then these machines, like the light bar came into and that could sound like the clinician use with you. There are handheld devices that individuals can use that they will administer, like, a vibration back and forth to the palms of the hands, which again is bilateral stimulation. And then as I mentioned before, sometimes auditory tones are used. And I found in my experience that it’s really dependent on the patient because some patients don’t tolerate eye movements well without feeling a little bit off-balance or dizzy, sometimes a little nauseous, some tolerate the hand vibrations or the hand taps better. So, some like a combination of the hand taps and the auditory stimulus. So, the most important component seems to be that you are getting the brain bilateral stimulation. So, personally, I have not found any significant difference. The differences are really in the individuals.

Dr. Hedberg: Let’s talk about trauma because that’s what it’s mainly used for. Trauma is such a difficult thing to deal with for any type of practitioner. And obviously, there’s different types of trauma. Some can be a single event or trauma can be an ongoing, you know, stress to the body. How do you define trauma? How do you look at trauma? And what kind of trauma do you think EMDR is best used for?

Martina: Those are all great questions. So, in the trauma recovery field, we often talk about big traumas and small traumas. And right now, as we’re recording this, we’re in a pandemic. I would say that to most everyone in the world, this is resulting in some type of trauma and defining trauma to be an incident that occurs to the brain that impacts the survival mechanism, the fight-flight mechanism. And it’s defined really as having an incident or several incidences or exposure to long-term incidences that are more than the body’s system can process. So, I would include in that the body, I would include the nervous system, I would include the brain. So, in my experience, single episode traumas such as having a car accident, going through a really difficult divorce, moving through the after effects of being raped or sexually assaulted or mentally abused, if it’s a single event like a car accident, for example, or one rape, or maybe several single incidences, I find that the EMDR is most helpful in clearing those types of trauma.

When you get into the trauma that comes out of childhood with repeated exposure to trauma which we call complex trauma, then the EMDR may need to be paired with some other modality such as the Trauma Resiliency Model, which is helping regulate the nervous system, or perhaps internal family systems, which is working with the young parts that are traumatized. We can also use EMDR. However, I find that we need a multipronged approach when there has been long-term exposure. Also keep in mind that if a child is exposed to physical, mental, or emotional abuse, alcoholism as a child or a parent that is mentally ill, then that trauma is occurring while their body’s developing, their nervous system is developing, and their brain is develop. So, it’s a much more complex situation that we’re trying to treat. Does that make sense?

Dr. Hedberg: Yeah. It makes perfect sense. So, for example, I’m just thinking through, you know, patients that I’ve had. So, for example, let’s take a woman who was forced to be a ballerina at the age of five, and she had an ongoing critical mother about her body and also, a highly critical, you know, teacher for years. That would be something that, like you said, that would be kind of an ongoing trauma that EMDR might not be the best thing for. Would that be correct?

Martina: Yes. That’s exactly correct because the neural pathways in the brain have been formed as that individual is developing. So, we can imagine those grooves are quite deep. If you contrast to that, another situation where a person has a single-event trauma, for example, someone came in with a car accident, they have not been in a car accident before, but it was quite traumatizing, they’re having PTSD symptoms, they’re having flashbacks, they don’t feel safe driving anymore, their startle response is quite heightened, then EMDR is such a beautiful and effective choice for that. Also, if a person has done, let’s say, one tour adaptive duty as a military person, and there are perhaps a couple of incidences that were quite traumatic, EMDR would be an excellent choice. One of the reasons is because we are not requiring the individual to go through that entire week counting or recalling of that trauma blow by blow. Instead, we work with a template, we work with a protocol, and we’re pulling out significant aspects of the trauma to treat. And because the brain has otherwise been healthy, we just need to clear some of the inroads, not vast amounts of the network. Does that make sense?

Dr. Hedberg: Yes. Yes. Definitely. Yeah. You know, as someone who is not trained in mental health as a practitioner, sometimes it’s difficult to navigate what type of modality is best to refer out for. And just, you know, over the years, I’ve tended to refer for EMDR, like you said, for specific events. And then I’ve referred for something like somatic experiencing for something that was an ongoing thing, like the ballerina example or the eating disorder and things like that. Do you have anything to add to that or can you give any other practitioners out there that are listening some guidelines for, you know, I mean, we, kind of, already covered that, but do you have anything to add to that, maybe some different trauma therapies that are out there like somatic experiencing that might be a better choice?

Martina: Yes. I believe you’re right on target when you refer, say, ballerina for sematic experiencing because her entire nervous system presumably would need to be kind of unwound from being wound up a certain way, for example. And I also find that the Trauma Resiliency Model is very helpful because it pulls from somatic experiencing and some other modalities. It’s a beautiful system that is beginning to be used throughout the world. There are clinical studies being done with Trauma Resiliency Model, and there’s also its sister model, the Community Resiliency Model. So, the woman who created the Trauma Resiliency Model after the Haiti earthquake, for example, she took a team of clinicians to teach community members how to build resiliency and overcome the trauma that came with the Haiti earthquake.

Another modality that I find extremely helpful for long-term exposure, complex trauma from childhood, is IFS, also known as the Internal Family Systems Model, or parts work. And that is also starting to get some real traction right now because there are clinical studies being done on it, it’s starting to be recognized as evidence-based theory or therapy, and it works with the very young parts of us that got traumatized, that had attachment wounds as children, and these young parts come up with adaptive strategies that make sense during childhood but may not make sense for the adults in their 20s or 30s or 50s and beyond. So, those would be the other two that I would mention.

There is one other that seems to be super helpful and I don’t know much about it, which is sensorimotor therapy. And they have elements of working with rewiring the brain, balancing the left and right side of the brain, and also unwinding the nervous system.

Dr. Hedberg: Excellent. So, some more specifics on EMDR so people can get a good idea. How many sessions are people usually doing with EMDR? Does it have just one or two in some cases, or is there a real minimum, and what’s your range of recommendations for EMDR sessions?

Martina: If the person has no history of trauma, then I would expect we can clear that trauma anywhere from one to three sessions. If that trauma was a single incident, but let’s say it happened years ago, for example, a woman who had been raped five years ago, she didn’t have any treatment, now, she’s going to court and the alleged perpetrator, she’s gonna have to face him in the courtroom, and now, all of the PTSD symptoms are reemerging. That person might require anywhere from 8 to 10, maybe even 12 sessions. But typically, the range is between 1 to 12. And again, if it’s just 100% that’s happened, then probably, one to three sessions. So, it can be a much shorter amount of time compared to traditional psychotherapy which is one of the reasons I love it. It just goes directly to the roots.

Dr. Hedberg: And let’s talk about the efficacy rate. So, obviously, it’s been around for a long time. I’m sure there’s tremendous research on it. What is the literature showing on the efficacy rate of EMDR?

Martina: The literature that I have looked at, it’s very high in terms of efficacy. Usually somewhere between 82% to 90% success rate, which is extremely high for a modality, a therapeutic modality. I would say I’ve been so fortunate in the last 20 years I’ve been doing EMDR to have on average an 85% to 90% success rate. There are some cases that I’ve had that did not respond to EMDR at all. And at the time that I worked with that individual, I didn’t have training in these other modalities that I could incorporate in. So, there’s lots of different factors involved in the efficacy rate because if you have generally, a high functioning person with a single episode or a few single episode traumas, their brains gonna recover much more quickly than if you have somebody, for example, whose brain is quite imbalanced. I’m thinking of a patient of mine who has bipolar and his brainwaves are moving almost constantly. And in addition to bipolar, he has ADHD. So, someone like that, it’s gonna be harder for the EMDR to work with because there’s other preexisting conditions in the brain. Does that make sense?

Dr. Hedberg: Yes. Yes. Definitely. Yeah. That makes perfect sense. The more traumas, the more layers, the more severe the case, probably, the more sessions and then the less effective EMDR might be for them.

Martina: Yeah.

Dr. Hedberg: So, you mentioned one case. Any other cases that really stand out in your mind from your clinical practice that you wanted to share?

Martina: There is one that comes to mind immediately. And I have permission from this individual to share it because she was so moved by the experience. She might’ve had one trauma prior to that. I think that she had… I’m trying to think. It may have been a car accident, and we cleared her trauma in about six sessions. And then some time went by and she witnessed a murder in her front yard. And she tried to heal from it on her own, she tried yoga and meditation, and she noticed that the longer the time, like the further away from the trauma she got. Instead of it getting better, it was getting worse and she was having panic attacks. So, she called me up and she said, “I’ve witnessed this murder in my front yard and it happened a couple of months ago. I’m not getting better. How many sessions do you think we could clear this in?” And I replied, “Well, you responded super well the first time to treatment. I expect that we could clear it within two sessions.” And she said, “Two sessions? This was really a dramatic trauma that I witnessed.” I said, “Okay, maybe three sessions.”

And so, she came and we had a very good rapport. And I would say she cleared out 70% of the trauma in the first session. She cleared the remaining 30% in the second session. And what I witnessed and I’ve witnessed this so often with the treatment of the EMDR is that as the brain begins to heal the trauma, it starts to move toward wholeness, health, wellness, and it switches around what was positive and pardon me, what was negative into a positive response. So, the brain will start to move forward and process that trauma, and then it will come up with positive associations, which is really hard to imagine with something as heinous as a murder, but in this case, rather than moving away from that neighborhood which was the neighborhood that there was quite a bit of drugs and crimes and so forth. Her response was I want to deepen my connection to the neighborhood, I want to deepen my connection to the community. And so, she then built a garden, a community garden for the entire neighborhood that she has kept up now for, I would say, 15 years. So, that’s such a beautiful example of how something so traumatic could be switched around and give the brain resiliency, not only to bounce stack and recover but to move forward in a really positive manner.

Dr. Hedberg: Yeah. That’s fantastic. Our mental health system just, you know, thinking about you talking about all this. It’s just…this kinda work, you know, just needs to be more mainstream and utilized more. And I just think all the people out there who have experienced trauma but have never gotten the help for it. You know, maybe they just developed, you know, things like depression or anxiety or other issues and they go to the psychiatrist and then get medication and really the underlying causes are just not really dealt with. That was just something I’m thinking of off the top of my head. And anything you wanted to add to that about how can we get this more mainstream, or how can this be utilized at a greater capacity?

Martina: I think those are great questions. And I will tell you that when the Affordable Care Act was passed, also known as Obamacare in our country, I started seeing patients who never were able to afford any kind of mental health care treatment. And now, they can come in, they can get trauma treatment, maybe they have a $5 copay. And so, I saw a tremendous benefit happening in that respect. And now, there are crisis centers, for example, rape crisis or domestic crisis centers where the counselors who work there are being trained in EMDR. It’s becoming more and more widespread. For example, in our own community, we have an organization called All Souls Counseling, and they typically have at least one person on staff who’s been trained in EMDR.

There are other very affordable, accessible options like open counseling or open path counseling, and on a larger scale, almost anywhere in the world now, especially in larger cities, you can go on to the EMDR website or the EMDRIA which is the international association, and you can find clinicians who offer EMDR, and you can also typically find organizations that are offering that. So, there are teams often that will go in to post-war zones or post-catastrophe natural disaster zones, and provide the EMDR at no charge. So, as more and more clinicians are trained and they’re able to be placed in nonprofits, they can give this service to individuals who are low-income poverty who could not otherwise afford to receive it. So, that to me is encouraging. It really is becoming more widespread. And in fact, insurance companies will pay for it. I believe the person has to be trained at least to the level two, the EMDR level two and insurance will reimburse it.

Dr. Hedberg: And you are trained to level two.

Martina: Yes. I did level one and level two training. And I did that within a couple of months of one another. And I’m super glad I did because as I was handling more and more difficult cases like when I worked at Hospice, for example, there had been a murder in the family, or there had been a suicide, and that’s just such atrocious types of violent death. And it’s really how I got into trauma recovery because I had done my internship at hospice, they wanted me to lead a grief group for a family and friends of murder victims, and then after that, I just kept getting handed all of these violent death cases. And I said, “Look, if you want me to do these cases, then you have to send me for training.” And I was super fortunate that I was able to get training within a few months of working at Hospice.

Dr. Hedberg: Excellent. I wanna ask you about surgical trauma and chronic pain. Have you seen any of that over the years where the patient gets a surgery, it could be a traumatic surgery but doesn’t have to be, it could be any kind of surgery, and just the experience with the nurses or the doctor or the staff or the experience of pain during the surgery triggers chronic pain in that individual. And if you have seen that, are you seeing any positive results with their pain levels?

Martina: Yes, absolutely. In fact, I mentioned earlier that EMDR was typically thought to only be effective in addressing trauma, but it’s gone on to all of these other levels like treating anxiety and panic attacks and phobias, etc. And chronic illness, medical issues, postsurgical issues, these can be very well treated with EMDR. So, as you said, perhaps the body didn’t have a full rebound after its healing and the person is left with chronic pain. Now, sometimes the chronic pain is able to be cleared through neuropathways in the brain with EMDR treatment. Sometimes it will not eradicate pain, but it will drop it to a level that is very manageable.

In fact, in 2006, I had a really severe episode of food poisoning in the middle of the night and I passed out and I hit my face on the porcelain toilet bowl, and I knocked my two front teeth out and I had bone grafts and bone infections and more bone grafts. And I ended up having about 16 dental procedures over the course of two years. So, I was living in chronic pain and I found a audio, it was a MP3, I believe from EMDR clinician in Australia who had recorded some meditations with the bilateral tones, for people dealing with chronic pain. And that’s really how I was able to get through my days. I would do it several times a day and it dropped it to a very manageable level. Then, of course, when all the healing took place, the pain was eradicated. So, I have some personal experience with that and have also had some fabulous success for patients who are experiencing chronic pain or they had, as you said, some kind of trauma with one of the medical personnel or perhaps the surgery didn’t go as it had been hoped it would go.

Dr. Hedberg: Excellent. Yeah. Chronic pain is such a complex disorder. You know, it’s the number one reason why people go to the doctor and I’ve just seeing that more and more and reading about it more and more how the, you know, the surgery or the staff, the personnel, can have a major impact on whether or not the pain just resolves like it should, or if it remains chronic.

Martina: Well, and that might be getting into the realm, too, of attachment theory because if the individual who’s in a very vulnerable place going into that surgery is mistreated, not treated well by one of the medical personnel, that’s a real violation to the nervous system, and we hope that we can have what’s called secure attachment with the doctors and nurses who are in service to us. And if we can’t have a secure attachment, then the body doesn’t have a chance to come out of the fight-flight, which is, I believe playing a role in the pain to begin with. And I was thinking also about with that attachment piece being so important, I was thinking about, you could take a client who has a trauma and send them to five different EMDR therapists who have all been trained in the same protocol and they may have really good success with a particular therapist, but not good success with another therapist. So, I’ve had individuals who had treatment from other EMDR therapists that it didn’t go well, it didn’t resolve the trauma issue. If I can create a secure attachment, if I can create that feeling of trust and safety with that patient, then that EMDR treatment or any other treatment that we’re offering is going to be a much higher success rate. I wonder if you’ve experienced that as well as a doctor.

Dr. Hedberg: Yeah. I mean, I’m really glad you brought that up because I tell patients this all the time when I’m referring them out for, you know, some kinda mental health support. I always explain to them that every profession is the same. You know, there’s good, there’s average, there’s bad, and then there’s just not quite the right fit, you know, for the individual. And so, I explain, you may have to see, you know, three, four, five even more, you know, practitioners to find the right fit and get the help that you need. And so, so many people, especially in alternative medicine, they’ll go and they’ll try one thing, one modality with one practitioner, it doesn’t help, and then they’ll say, “Well, that didn’t work for me.” So, like you were saying, you know, they’ll go get EMDR, and then they come to this, you know, final conclusion that EMDR didn’t work for them.

And you just have to keep trying. You know, you just don’t give up and you just have to keep trying to find the right person to help you. And then when you do find the right person, then you can get great results. There’s an old martial art saying that I like to tell patients and it goes like this. “It’s better to spend your life searching for the right master than to spend your life training with the wrong master.” And so, that’s just a really important point to make that it’s a journey sometimes, and sometimes you just have to keep going, you know, to find the right person to help you.

Martina: Yes. I’m so glad you’re speaking to that. And often when we’re seeking help, we are in a vulnerable position and we can feel quite desperate to get help and to get results from the help that we seek or the individuals that we’re seeking help from. And I just encourage everyone, even in that state of vulnerability, to do their very best, to listen to their body, and to listen to their inner wisdom to inform them as to whether or not that person feels like a good match to them because I remember after the accident with my mouth, I went to three different EMDR clinicians until I felt I met somebody I felt very safe with. And as soon as I felt that level of safety, my brain, my nervous system, my neuroperception, all of those components within me relaxed, and then the work was able to be accomplished. So, I’m right on board with you to say, “Don’t give up. Keep trying. If you don’t succeed, but you’ve heard really good results with a particular modality, try again.”

Dr. Hedberg: Exactly. And you mentioned a few other things that EMDR could help other than trauma. Did you want to expand on any of those? What are some of the other things that it can help with? I know you mentioned anxiety and a few others.

Martina: Yes. Some individuals have terrific responses if they have depression, especially if it’s situational depression, as opposed to clinical depression, and the clinical depression, as you know, there can be an onset with no immediate identifiable factors contributing to the clinical depression. Although I would argue having done this work for so long, that even in clinical depression, there are things that are components that have kicked it off that we’ve had as EMDR clinicians overall good success with depression. Surprisingly, we’ve had good success with the dissociative disorders where an individual might just stay silent or numb out or mentally take themselves away from the difficult traumatic situation they’re in. For example, if a young person is being… a child, for example, is being sexually abused, it’s very common to have a component of that trauma be the dissociation that happens. That’s way the brain knows how to protect us.

There’s been good results with eating disorders, with performance anxiety, grief, and loss as I mentioned with the Hospice work, and, of course, I mentioned sexual assault. Some individuals do really well with EMDR for sleep disturbances. It really depends on the individual and whether or not there are other components like hormonal imbalances, you know, for example. And some have had great success using EMDR to quit smoking or to address substance abuse and addiction. So, there’s really a broad, broad application. And you might find any number of EMDR clinicians will specialize in particular areas. So, if you’re struggling with, say, addiction, look for somebody who has experienced an EMDR specifically with addiction, or with anxiety, or with depression, or eating disorders because they’re going to have so much experience, they will be able to help you when the brain tries to block the EMDR from working effectively.

Dr. Hedberg: Excellent. And if it’s okay with you, I’d like to just ask you about some of these other modalities that you do and that you’re trained and see if maybe we could tie some of it together.

Martina: Sure.

Dr. Hedberg: The internal family systems has always seemed interesting to me, but I don’t know that much about it. Can you give us just kind of an overview of that and how you might tie that into trauma or even someone, you know, also doing EMDR?

Martina: Yes. Yes. So, this is a modality I’ve done for almost a decade that I absolutely love. It’s very dear and near to my heart because not only did it change my professional life, it also changed my personal life. And it’s based on the idea, I think it’s a reality as well, that our psyche is made up of more than one aspect, more than one ego state is another way of saying, and it doesn’t mean that we had multiple personality disorder, but we all have different multiple aspects of who we are. And Internal Family Systems puts or names the protective system, names it as managers and firefighters. So, an example of a manager might be, I have a part of me that’s excellent with time management. I have a part of me that is super relational and can connect with people in…pardon me easily. I also have a manager that can be perfectionists, or it can be a people pleaser, or somebody might have a manager that’s highly critical that tries to motivate them by being critical or judgmental.

And then we have the category of firefighters and these are extreme parts of us that will step in to try to help us cope when our pain levels, our emotional mental pain levels get too high or physical. So, an example of a firefighter might be a part of us that engages in promiscuous sex or any level of addiction, whether that’s an addiction to alcohol or substance or an addiction to work. So, those firefighters come in when the managers start to become overwhelmed and they step in to help us calm down, like calm the fire down. I noticed, for example, in the news, people who are reporting and the sheltering during the pandemic, the worst part of the sheltering, people were starting to bake again, people were increasing their alcohol consumption or their marijuana consumption. And these are examples of firefighters trying to bring comfort.

And so, we also recognize in Internal Family Systems that we have a self. We have a true authentic self that has quality such as compassion, and clarity, and calmness, and creativity. And when we help bring these managers and firefighters in relation to relationship with the self, they start to relax. They don’t have to do their jobs in the same way. Then we can go to what are called the exiles that hold trauma, that holds attachment wounds, and in general, hold pain and shame. So, the managers are busy trying to keep us distant from those wounded parts that hold the pain and shame. And if they’re failing at that because a situation feels overwhelming, then in come the firefighters to just take over because a stronger level of strategy is needed to keep us distant from the shame and the pain.

So, if I tie this to EMDR, before I understood about the protective system within the IFS or Internal Family Systems framework, I could be administering the protocol with the EMDR and find that every time we got too close to the pain, the person might dissociate, or the person might just stop. It was like somebody put the brakes on and we can’t go any further. So, what I’ve learned is that when that happens, I’m meeting a part of them and their protective system. I need to negotiate with that protector to get permission to continue with the EMDR. So, I know I gave you a mouthful there. Does all of that make sense, are you following, do you have any questions?

Dr. Hedberg: Yes. Yeah. It’s very, very interesting how you would tie that together. And then the other modality mentioned in your bio is TRM, Trauma Resiliency Model. Is there anything you wanted to say about that?

Martina: Yes. And I believe that clinicians, EMDR clinicians, you know, when I trained 20 years ago, we did not talk about helping the client gain some… what would the word be? Coping skills to help calm the nervous system down. I mean, there was one piece of the protocol in EMDR what we call installing a pleasant place. So, helping the person access a pleasant place that either exist in reality or exist in their imagination as a place that the client can go to, to calm down. However, what I feel was missing at that time was the lack of soothing skills or comforting skills to help bring the level of excitement to the nervous system, to a lower level. I’m not finding quite the right words for it, but, for example, with the Trauma Resiliency Model, we are helping the individual’s nervous system with resourcing. So, we’re bringing resources to the individual’s nervous system so that they can calm their nervous system, they can soothe their nervous system so we can get it to a level of enough calmness to then do the EMDR.

So, we would do that, for example, with a grounding or centering, teaching the client how to pendulate back and forth. And that’s something that comes out in somatic experiencing so that if the nervous system is at a super high point, we can teach a skill or skills to help drop that level of the nervous system, which is also gonna slow down the brain waves. Then the client’s able to soothe and calm themselves. So, if a person comes in with a really high level of trauma and a very severe trauma, I’m thinking, for example, the woman who came to see me when she was several months pregnant with her second child. And two months prior to that, her first child had been killed by a driver who ran her over on the street. And her nervous system was so freaked out, not a very clinical word, but freaked out. She could not even take a shower alone. That’s how frightened she was.

So the first step I had to do was help her with some skills and tools to modulate that level of fear within her brain and her nervous system. Then we could do the EMDR and she had a beautiful recovery and a beautiful turnaround, and she actually went from a place of complacency about her second child to a real excitement about her second child. So, tying it back to the Trauma Resiliency Model, if a person has been coping with this traumatic incident for a number of months or even years, and they’re having anxiety and they’re having panic attacks, if I administer the EMDR too quickly, I can make the trauma worse because it can just send that nervous system even higher into fight or flight. So, that’s why I believe, and I believe most EMDR clinicians would agree with me on that is we have to empower the client with some tools to help calm their nervous system down before we can go on and really get to the meat of the trauma.

Dr. Hedberg: That makes a lot of sense. Yeah. Well, this has been really excellent, Martina. Thank you for coming on the show.

Martina: My pleasure.

Dr. Hedberg: How would you like people to find you online?

Martina: If folks want to find me and learn more about it, they can go to and it’s just and you will find resources on there. Oh, pardon me. I have two websites now, Go to that website. That’s the therapy website, and there will be resources on there that help educate you about EMDR. And with EMDR, I can only practice within the State of North Carolina because it falls under therapy work. However, if somebody is looking for an EMDR clinician in another state or another part of the world, they can go to or they can go to EMDRIA, the international association, and put their city in and I would encourage them to look for at least a level two trained EMDR clinician.

Dr. Hedberg: Excellent. I urge everyone listening to look into EMDR if you believe that trauma is a part of your ongoing health issue. And for the practitioners out there listening, I highly recommend establishing some relationships with some local EMDR practitioners and begin using that in your practice as something to refer out for because I’ve just found that my results in practice are significantly amplified when we deal with all these other issues that we’re not trained to deal with. We have to go beyond diet, and supplements, and exercise, and sleep, and all these other things that mental health professionals like Martina can help patients with. So, thanks for tuning in everyone. You can go to to access a full transcript of this, and I’ll have links to Martina’s information there. Well, take care of everyone. This is Dr. Hedberg, and I will talk to you next time.

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