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What Is EMDR?

EMDR is a form of psychotherapy which can be extremely effective in healing a range of symptoms of emotional distress from trauma caused by disturbing life experiences. EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Kathryn Grooms is a Certified EMDR practitioner and an Attachment Focussed EMDR (AF-EMDR) Consultant in Training with the Parnell Institute. Our therapists are specifically trained to address attachment traumas.

EMDR therapy incorporates eye movements or other bilateral stimulation into a comprehensive approach that processes and releases information trapped in the mind and body, freeing people from disturbing images and body sensations, debilitating emotions, and restrictive beliefs. This revolutionary therapy has helped millions of clients of all ages recover from such traumas as war, accidents, assaults, disasters, and childhood abuse. EMDR has been extensively researched as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and is considered to be an evidence-based therapy.

Traumatic events can have different effects on different people. While some people are able to move through various traumatic events or experiences and process them fully, others may not. If a traumatic experience is never fully resolved, it can manifest in other ways later in life and become interruptive or problematic.

In addition to the treatment of PTSD, EMDR is also used to treat the psychological effects of smaller traumas that manifest in symptoms of depression, anxiety, phobias, low self-esteem, creativity blocks, and relationship difficulties. Not only does healing occur much more rapidly than in traditional therapy, but as a result of EMDR’s clearing of emotional and physical blockages, many people also experience a sense of joy, openness, and deep connection with others. (Parnell)

Kathryn Grooms & Associates Psychotherapy is a team of trauma-informed, professionally trained therapists. We offer a nonjudgmental space, which is dedicated to supporting your growth and empowering the change you desire. We encourage every client to go at their own pace — specifically, a pace that meets their own unique needs.

We all have stories in our history. Some of these stories help us believe positive, affirming things about ourselves while giving us the ability to progress steadily through life, even when bad things happen. Sometimes we can clearly see these stories and we can understand that, yes, this bad thing happened to me. We can look back and acknowledge the pain or the trauma and we can see how we moved through it and processed it. These are the stories which have left a relatively positive imprint. However, we also have stories in our history which have left a negative imprint.

For example, perhaps our family environment was less than ideal. Or our social or cultural environment was inhospitable. There may have been a history of abuse. Or a specific traumatic event such as a car accident, a fire, or an illness. When bad things happen, sometimes we disconnect from ourselves and move into the fight, flight, or freeze part of our nervous system. During particularly traumatic or painful scenarios, the reasoning part of our brain — the frontal lobe — is somehow intentionally or instinctually “offline.” The part of our brain which processes thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. is not in use. The situation is so painful, so traumatic, that we almost move into autopilot.

In the end, we may move through the trauma, but we haven’t fully processed it. We’ve skipped the steps of processing which are necessary for healing. The psychotherapists at Kathryn Grooms & Associates Psychotherapy can work with you, using the EMDR technique, to help you revisit and reprocess these memories.

Attachment-focused EMDR (AF-EMDR) is client-centered and emphasizes a reparative therapeutic relationship using a combination of (1) Resource Tapping™ (Parnell, 2008) to strengthen clients and repair developmental deficits, (2) EMDR to process traumas, and (3) talk therapy to help integrate the information from EMDR sessions and to provide the healing derived from therapist-client interactions.

AF-EMDR extends the use and benefits of EMDR and bilateral stimulation for use with clients who have been typically less responsive to traditional EMDR protocols, due to acute or chronic relational trauma and attachment deficits. Those deficits include the effects of childhood physical or sexual abuse, neglect, early losses, birth trauma, medical trauma, parental drug or alcohol abuse, caregiver misattunement, secondary trauma, and the cumulative effects of all. These clients often present in therapy as depressed, with relationship difficulties or problems at work. They don’t feel fully alive. Childhood trauma has impacted their sense of safety and capacity to form close emotional relationships in adulthood.

Present hurts can sometimes trigger past trauma. When a person experiences a hurt — whether it’s a physical kind of pain or an emotional pain — and that hurt is reminiscent of an earlier hurt, they don’t just feel the pain. They can also feel or remember a narrative in their head. This narrative can be quite troubling. EMDR is a tool that can help address past trauma and rewrite the narrative.

For example, imagine a parent and young child at a playground. If the child falls, the parent may choose to pause for a moment and allow the child to struggle a bit to recover. They may ask the child if he or she is alright and then they might affirm to the child that they did a good job playing and getting up from a fall. They show empathy, without going to the extremes of either coddling or ignoring. But if you consider those two extremes, there are different narratives which may occur.

If the parent coddles too much, the child may grow up thinking they can’t handle anything or that perhaps they aren’t good enough or strong enough. Alternatively, if the parent ignores the fallen child, the child may feel ignored. They may sense that no one cares about them or that they aren’t lovable enough or good enough. These are just two of many possible narrative scenarios. And, depending on the degree of physical or emotional pain, present day hurts may trigger memories of that moment and that narrative from when they were young. In fact, their response in the present day becomes bigger, become compounded.

Attachment-focused EMDR can help heal this kind of relational trauma. By going deep into the person’s early relationships to identify triggers and unresolved or unprocessed events and traumas, one of our trained psychotherapists at Kathryn Grooms & Associates Psychotherapy will utilize attachment-focused EMDR to identify the trigger, revisit the memory, and use bilateral stimulation (part of the EMDR technique) to process those parts of the person’s history or their upbringing that they weren’t able to process because at the time they were simply “surviving it.”

Each of our therapists begins by taking a full history, seeking to fully understand the specific incident or the lifetime experience the client wishes to address. As a trauma-informed practice, we are acutely aware of the importance of exploring all of the parts of the client including the mental, social, emotional, and physical experiences which may be triggering or contributing to these unwelcome and deeply painful responses.

At Kathryn Grooms & Associates Psychotherapy in New York City, you’ll find a team of highly credential therapists who offer their clients a welcoming, nonjudgmental environment. We are a client-centered, trauma-informed practice where clients can feel safe and comfortable to progress past obstacles and move closer to the life they desire.

More reading about EMDR: click here


During this unprecedented time, you may be experiencing increasing feelings of uncertainty, loss, anxiety, fear, grief or rage. We are all experiencing a different reality and it can and will affect everyone very differently.

Whether you’re performing an essential job that requires long hours and potential risk to your health, or you’re navigating school re-opening, returning to work or continuing to work from home and practicing social distancing, please know that you are not alone.

We are pleased to offer the same level of compassionate care through the convenience and confidentiality of TeleTherapy services, accessible on your computer, tablet, or phone. We are welcoming fully vaccinated clients to return to the office for in-person sessions on a case by case basis.

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Have Questions?

Payment can be cash, check or credit card. (Please note: there is a surcharge of $2.50 per invoice.) Payment is expected at the time of each session. We are an out-of-network provider with all insurance companies. On a monthly basis we will be happy to provide receipts and/or completed insurance forms for you to submit for out of network reimbursement.
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Call Us: (347) 983-2233