California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

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Using EMDR treatment to battle PTSD

by Mike Mangas

Monday, June 17th 2019



With days like Monday, having high heat, gusty winds, and dry vegetation, put many of us on edge, especially after last year's devastating fires.

Wildfire season gives me this foreboding feeling that it's just a matter of time. If you feel the same way, you're not alone.

But here's something that might help: a pencil.

"Everybody was affected by those fires. There isn't anybody in our community who didn't know somebody who lost everything. And so there's the survivor's guilt, as much as there is the trauma to those who lost things." said Dr. Forester.


Some alphabet soup for you, a potential help for PTSD is EMDR.

Many mental health professionals use "Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing" (EMDR).

This is how it works; lateral eye movement followed, by deep breaths while focusing on the problem.

Dr. Dalene Forester of Redding is a past president of the EMDR International Association, and has trained hundreds of therapists in its use.

"EMDR helps, kind of, for lack of a better word, just flicks the brain to do what it would naturally do to process difficult information, so that we learn from it, and we grow rather than become stuck, paralyzed, and cause of our problems in our functioning."

Dr. David Gasman is a retired psychiatrist who has used EMDR on hundreds of his patients and friends.

"This is wildfire season, and people are becoming afraid even thinking of fire, that this could happen once again, and it certainly could. So they have unnecessary fear. Sometimes it's good to have concern, but having unnecessary fear that cripples your daily activities is not good." said Dr. Gasman.

He used EMDR on his friend Beckie Richardson several years ago to help her with a fear of flying and of large crowds.

"Once I got on the plane I was fine. When we got to Israel I was fine. I was aware of my surroundings and the people, but I wasn't anxious any more. It was a really, really good thing to do." said Beckie Richardson, a patient being helped by the EMDR.

She says she's flown since then and never had a problem.

Once a patient is stabilized, EMDR can be effective in as little as a few minutes. But the experts agree, don't try this at home.

"I just would not recommend that because you don't really know what's going to happen when this comes up, and you've got to be trained to deal with whatever it is that comes up." said Dr. Richardson.

Although it looks a little like it, they say this is not hypnosis.

If you want to do more research, google "EMDR".

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Further information can be found at

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The Redding Regional Chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (RRC-CAMFT) is a professional organization that serves the interests of Marriage and Family Therapists throughout Shasta, Tehama, Siskiyou, Modoc, Trinity, and Lassen Counties. We would also like to extend a warm welcome to all members of the Chico-Regional CAMFT to attend any of our events. 

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