Dr. Sabine Sell
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | MFT #40672
Offices in San Francisco & Pacifica 
415.317.6943 | therapybysabine@gmail.com
Dr. Sabine Sell
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
MFT #40672
Offices in San Francisco & Daly City

In addition to my education and required training, I have completed both Level I and Level II training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). My training was received through EMDRIA certified Bay Area psychologist, Dr. Laurel Parnell (EMDR Info). What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment founded by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980's. It is a simple, non-invasive technique in which healing can happen rapidly and does not involve the use of drugs or hypnosis.

EMDR is used to help resolve a host of emotional difficulties. It was originally used to treat the effects of trauma, but it is also very effective in helping people overcome more common "blocks" in thinking and negative emotions that prevent them from achieving a more satisfying life. For many people, the procedure seems to accelerate the ability to move through troublesome thoughts, feelings and memories.

Typically, after successful treatment with EMDR, emotional distress is relieved, negative beliefs are transformed, and physical symptoms are reduced.

How does EMDR work?
When disturbing experiences happen, they are stored in the brain with all the sights, sounds, thoughts and feelings that accompany them. When a person is very upset, the brain seems to be unable to process the experience as it would normally. Therefore, the negative thoughts and feelings of the traumatic event get "trapped" in the nervous system. Since the brain cannot process these emotions, the experience and/or their accompanying feelings, are often suppressed from consciousness. However, the distress lives on in the nervous system where it causes disturbances in the normal emotional functioning of the person.

The EMDR technique does two very important things. First, it "unlocks" the negative memories and emotions stored in the nervous system, and second, it helps the brain successfully process the experience.

During EMDR the client focuses on emotionally disturbing material in brief doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. Through the use of dual stimulation while accessing traumatic memory, information processing is improved. New associations are created between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories. These new associations are thought to result in complete information processing, new learning, elimination of emotional distress, and development of cognitive insights.

Is EMDR the same as hypnosis? What are the differences/similarities?
EMDR is not hypnosis. The client is fully conscious and in control throughout the session. Like hypnosis, EMDR seems to work with the unconscious mind, bringing into consciousness the repressed thoughts and feelings that must be experienced again in order to release their energetic hold on the person.

What can I expect with EMDR treatment?
Each case is unique, but there is a standard 8-phase approach that each clinician should follow. This includes taking a complete history, preparing the client, identifying target memories and their components, actively processing the past, present and future aspects, and on-going evaluation.
The process involves the use of dual stimulation (eye movements, taps, tones) while the client concentrates on a targeted memory. After each set of movements, the client briefly describes to the clinician what they experienced. At the end of each session, the client should use the techniques taught to them in order to leave the session feeling in control and empowered.
At the end of EMDR therapy, previously disturbing memories and present situations should no longer be problematic, and new healthy responses should be the norm.

Are eye movements considered essential to EMDR?
Since Francine Shapiro first coined the term "Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing", a great deal of debate has ensued about the role of eye movements in the treatment. Today, other types of stimuli are often used (sounds alternating from ear to ear, tapping alternating on the left and right side of the body) and have proven just as effective. It is possible that specific types of dual stimulation work well for some people, but not for others.

Will I relive the trauma as intensely as before?
Many people are conscious of only a shadow of the experience, while others feel it to a greater degree. Unlike some other therapies, EMDR clients are not asked to relive the trauma intensely and for prolonged periods of time. In EMDR, when there is a high level of intensity it only lasts for a few moments and then decreases rapidly. If it does not decrease rapidly on its own, the clinician has been trained in techniques to assist in managing the emotions. The client has also been trained in techniques to immediately relieve the distress.

What are the side effects?
As with any form of psychotherapy, there may be a temporary increase in distress.
  1. Distressing and unresolved memories may emerge
  2. Some clients may experience reactions during a treatment session that neither they nor the administering clinician may have anticipated, including a high level of emotional or physical sensations
  3. Subsequent to the treatment session, the processing of material may continue, and other dreams, memories feelings, etc., may emerge.
What questions should be asked to find out if clinicians are qualified and if they have expertise using EMDR with my problem/disorder?
  1. Have they received both levels of training?
  2. Was the training approved by EMDRIA?
  3. Have they kept informed of the latest protocols and developments?
  4. How many cases have they treated with your particular problem/disorder?
  5. What is their success rate?
Is there research that supports these claims?
Fourteen controlled studies of EMDR make it the most thoroughly researched method ever used in the treatment of trauma! A recent study of individuals who experienced rape, military combat, loss of loved ones, disasters and serious accidents, found that 84-90% had relief of their emotional distress after only three EMDR sessions. Another study showed that EMDR was twice as effective in half the amount of time of standard traditional psychotherapeutic care. Another study of subjects with post traumatic stress revealed that the significant improvement they gained with the EMDR treatments were maintained for at least 15 months.

Although some people have dramatic responses in a short period of time, others will progress more slowly. However, the results will be equally effective and long-lasting.

Since the initial medical study in 1989, world-wide research has helped develop and evolve EMDR. To date, more than half a million people have benefited from EMDR therapy.

call or text: 415.317.6943

Sabine Sell: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT#40672). Copyright © 2015 Therapy By Sabine. All rights reserved.
Select photographs contributed by 7th Prime: www.7thprime.biz