EMDR for Confidence: My Story

I have been and EMDR therapist for a few years now and one of the important things about being a therapist is doing my own therapy, getting on the other side of all my own roadblocks. When I went to my therapist one of the questions she asked me is, “What is one of the things you would like to feel differently about in your life?” This is a great therapy question and such a helpful measure for success. My response, “I want to feel confident.”

Confidence is something I’ve struggled with most of my life. It’s manifested in difficulty making decisions, feeling small inside, doubting my skills and cowering in relationships with people who have big personalities. But since doing my own EMDR therapy and rewiring some old thought patterns, my outlook on myself and my felt sense of self has greatly shifted. It didn’t happen overnight. It happened over several sessions and required going back to certain events in my life and re-wiring my brains experience of them. It required looking at my belief about myself in relation to those event and seeing it in a new light.

Things like childhood bullying, conflicts with parents, elementary school classroom trauma. All these things are still part of my story, the experiences still happened, but my felt sense of myself in relationship to them has changed. As a result of that shift I have changed. I’m more brave, I make decisions with more ease and don’t feel small anymore. I still have stuff to work on because I want to be a better human and brighter version of myself, but I can honestly say, due to my personal EMDR therapy certain integral parts of myself have shifted.

Remote EMDR Therapy , Video On-line therapy

How can EMDR help during shelter in place in the time of Covid-19

Many of us feel unsettled in this time. For some people the uncertainty of our current situation mirrors other times of uncertainty in their lives and feels extra triggering. While we can’t undo the past, we can create a new understanding of it and enhance our ability to stand firmly in the present. By working on the underlying insecurities, anxieties and old belief systems that drive us we can strengthen our response to current events. 

Many people think EMDR is a tool that you can only use for past trauma. But it’s also a tool we can also use to clear out present day trauma. One of the most important building blocks of EMDR therapy is teaching people how to resource themselves, how to calm their nervous system and how to build on strengths already in them. 

Over the course of therapy I have seen my clients shift from feeling “not good enough” or “unlovable” to confident, strong individuals. 

EMDR is way of doing therapy that helps clients link their limiting beliefs or physical sensations to experiences and through that process, unlink the events allowing them to live more fully in the present. 

Updated on Week 13! Coping with Covid-19. Are you struggling to survive sheltering in place?

As we continue to shelter in place I’ve been reviewing my own coping strategies and realizing I need more! So I came back to this post to add on. The newer tips are at the top.

Below you will find some tips to help you find peace and security during this uncertain time.

Find joy, Joy is like gratitude when you focus on it, it grows. If this is hard for you you are not alone. Most of us have to be taught or teach ourselves to find and feel joy. Your joy might be as simple as your cup of coffee in the morning. It might be the feeling you get when you close your computer for the day or relaxing after the house is finally clean. It can be totally mundane. The point is it’s yours and it’s in your body and it’s important to marinate and magnify it.

Look forward to something, anything, There are actually studies that have been done that show people who plan vacations get as much benefit, if not more, from looking forward to something as they do doing it. So figure out something you can plan and get it on the calendar. It doesn’t matter if its just the next book you plan to read. It’s that feeling of anticipation we are looking to create.

Connect with what gives you meaning and purpose, Some of the people I talk with are feeling an existential crisis right now. So yeah, let’s validate that this pandemic has changed our lives. For many people it’s slowed them down enough to say, oh yeah before I was too busy. How can do things differently? People I’ve talked to are weighing their relationships with friends, which ones really matter, which ones were obligatory, which ones were just convenient. Others are weighing their relationship to work. Is this what I want to do? Can I re-invent myself? These are all such beautiful, important and sometimes scary questions to ask ourselves! This is a good time to engage yourself with these questions and return to what gives you meaning.

Create routines, revive old ones. We are creatures of habit and many of us find comfort in knowing what to expect. If we can create a routine our brain and body know where to go. It’s 6:00 am, I get my coffee. It’s 7, I eat breakfast. It’s 7:30, I take my morning walk. 8:00 I begin my workday.

There is comfort in a direct path. Less room for the mind to wander. This time of uncertainty is difficult for most people. It’s even more difficult for people who have lived through periods of uncertainty and groundlessness as children. That is why we need to find our own grounding and deeply root ourselves in what feels comforting and stable.

Sometimes that can be connecting to the breath, or noticing ourselves in space, the room we are in connected to a chair, feet on the floor etc… Allowing yourself the simplicity of the moment and the permission not to figure something out.

For some people the space right now feels good, open, vast, creative, for others it feels scary. If it feels right for you lean and allow yourself to savor the pleasant sensations of not rushing.

If you are someone where this space feels too open, too unstructured, create some simple structures. Shore yourself up with extra padding in your life. Sometimes that can be an accountability buddy, someone you agree to check in with regularly, sometimes that can be a daily commitment of a workout. Lean into what energizes you. If you are feeling so down you don’t know what would energize you go back to a time in your life that was going well, see if you can tap into what worked for you at that time and create a version of that in your current life. 

Laughter, Laughter releases endorphins, the feel good chemicals in your brain, it boosts your immune system. You can watch 10 minute SNL skits on Utube or a funny show. Call the person in your life you makes you laugh the most. 

Dance, just like laughter it releases endorphins and reduces cortisol levels. It can bring you out of your busy mind and back into your body. I often put on music while I cook and find myself dancing in the kitchen. It makes the drudgery of dinner prep so much more fun. 

Get outside, Many people I talk to feel anxious about going outside. Their brain is telling them it’s not o.k. This is a time when we need to make sure our anxiety is not running the show. If you can safely get outside, Do. Every Day. Your body mind and spirit will thank you. Walk for 20 minutes and practice mindfulness as you do so. Notice the trees, what color are they? The air, how does it smell? How does it feel on your skin? The ground, can you feel it supporting you? Please go outside daily. Humans are not meant for isolation and indoor life. We are meant to be connected to the world, by going outside you can find that connection. 

Eat vitamin rich food, The more color the better for you. Think red, blue, greens, yellow and orange. There is a reason pediatricians tell kids to eat the rainbow. 

So many of us are struggling right now to stay sane and healthy during the shelter in place order. It’s important to be kind to ourselves. We are adjusting to a new pace of life.

We are still disconnecting from commuting, shopping, task managing and activities. Our body and mind are adjusting to this current pace.

My hope for you is that you find compassion for yourself when you get scared, energy when you feel low, and a deep sense of peace that you are o.k., today, in this moment.  

3 Ways to Calm Anxiety and Get Present

3 ways to calm anxiety in the moment and reset your nervous system

We all get anxious and we all can benefit from using tools to help calm down and come back to the present moment. 

Breathe, this is called 4,4 and 8. The purpose of this breath is to reset the nervous system. Breathe in to the count of 4. Hold your breath to the count of 4. Breathe out to the count of 8.

Extending your exhale helps balance your nervous system. There are several different ways to do this. 4,4,8 works great. Or any number combination where the exhale is longer. You can also place your hand on your heart and make a humming sound as you exhale. Do as many times as you need to, you will feel your body calm down eventually, it may take a few rounds. 

Compassion, put hand on chest and say it’s ok, it’s ok, its ok, it’s understandable that I feel this way.

Do this for three minutes if you can, if not shoot for one minute, and then repeat as needed throughout the day.

Observe, Look around the room notice each object you see. Name the objects out loud or in your mind, couch, plant, rug etc… do this until you feel your system relax. You are inviting your pre-frontal cortex (thinking brain) back on line and dis-engaging your amygdala (reptile brain).


Years ago, in my own therapy, my therapist would end my sessions with: “Victoria, be kind to yourself.” That’s it. Week after week she said this to me.

One day, I was driving down the street berating myself for something or other and I heard her voice like an echo in my head. “Okay”, I thought. “What does this mean? What would being kind to myself mean?”

Before that moment, It had never occurred to me to really take in her words and think about it! For probably three years, I had been shaking my head at the end of my session thinking, “That’s it? I pour my heart out to you, and you tell me to be kind to myself?” Continue reading