What Exactly Is EMDR? Phase 1


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of therapy that helps people heal from trauma or other distressing life experiences. It has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. ⁣

I’m a Level II Trained EMDR clinician and was trained by the EMDR Institute. At True Growth, I often provide an integrative approach of using art therapy and EMDR — bringing together different approaches of bilateral stimulation to provide therapy than is more than just words. ⁣

More and more often I’m asked the questions: “what is EMDR exactly?” “How does it work?” “When do we get to the light thing?” ⁣

EMDR includes eight phases and each phase plays its part in the role of healing traumatic wounds. EMDR is more than the strange lights and finger wagging! ⁣

// Phase 1 // ⁣

In the first phase of EMDR treatment, the therapist takes a thorough history of the client and develops a treatment plan. This phase will include a discussion of the specific problem that has brought him or her into therapy, the behaviors and symptoms stemming from that problem. With this information, the therapist will develop a treatment plan that defines the specific targets on which to use EMDR.⁣

With this information, the therapist will develop a treatment plan that defines the specific targets on which to use EMDR. These targets include the event(s) from the past that created the problem, the present situations that cause distress, and the key skills or behaviors the client needs to learn for their future well-being. ⁣


If you feel EMDR might be the right fit for you, please ask your therapist if they were trained at an EMDRIA-approved training so that you know you’re getting EMDR evidenced-based treatment. What many clients don’t know is that there are many iterations and ‘takes’ on EMDR therapy/tapping/etc but the 8 phase protocol developed by Francine Shapiro is where all of that lovely evidenced based research is.

Can I Really Avoid That "Freeze” Moment When I'm Confronted?

That moment. When someone comes at you in a tone where you know nothing good is going to come from this conversation…

If someone approaches you with offensive commentary, an aggressive stance, or dumps misplaced feelings into you —-most of us go into a flight, fight, or freeze mode. We don't really know what to do with that comment. ⁣

More often than not, I hear folks share experiences about “freezing”, not saying anything, and continuing to hold on to that unpleasant interaction. We may even beat ourselves up for not saying anything. ⁣

I can identify with this. Growing up in Texas as a woman, behavior was modeled for me and more often than not I used to freeze and carry all those unpleasant emotions that didn’t belong to me. ⁣

So I want to share this ‘life hack’ that I learned from my previous therapist. It helps to have a phrase to remember so one is less likely to freeze. ⁣

Here it is. One statement. ⁣

🌟 “I feel uncomfortable with ________.” ⁣

Ex: aggressively postured co-worker begins to make de-valuing statements, demeaning you, and ordering things for you to do as if they were your boss. ⁣

“I feel uncomfortable with the way you’re speaking to me.” ⁣

Yes there will be about 3-5 seconds of awkward silence, but it always passes. Many times people don’t know how they sound or even if their actions are out of line. ⁣

One you get the hang of naming what makes you uncomfortable, that once negative interaction turns into a beautiful assertive experience. You can’t control others’ response and you aren’t responsible for their feelings. But truly most the time the other person apologizes. ⁣

You are only responsible for your feelings. Don’t try and make the world “comfortable” at the expense of your own wellbeing. It’s not worth it.

Should I Meet with a Therapist Who is Younger Than Me?

Results Are Never Instant.png

One of the things you may notice about me is that I’m…how do you say it…fresh-faced? Sprightly?

 Sometimes people wonder whether they can truly benefit from psychotherapy with a younger therapist. Here’s where I happily report that yes, you absolutely can.

Here’s why.

1.    Research

Research indicates the biggest predictor of success in therapy is not the amount of life lived, but rather something that is called the therapeutic alliance (Lynch, 2012). The therapeutic alliance simply put is the bond between therapist and client. When looking for a therapist, it’s all about the right fit and quality of the relationship.  Research consistently shows that a more experienced therapist does not generate more successful results, even though one might think otherwise (Ardito, Rabellino, 2011).  

In the therapy world, there are both skilled and less skilled therapists. Just like any other profession, there is a spectrum in the quality of service provided to you, the client/consumer/patient.  The truth is I’ve met people with very little experience who have the incredible ability to build a therapeutic alliance just as much as therapists who have been in the field 25+ years.

Having sat on both on the couch and in the chair, the first contacts with your therapist provide you with a great sense about that fit.  Therapy is your time and I believe that the beginning stages of therapy are about exploring and building the therapeutic alliance.

2.    Fierce desire for growth

During my clinical internship, one of my supervisors said “if you think you’ve got it all figured out, that’s when you are really in trouble”. I’ve held on to that sentiment not only because I believe it’s true, but also it speaks to the misconception that experience is the leading influence on ability to provide therapeutic services.

Many young therapists have an energetic and fierce desire for learning. Complacency is the enemy of clinical growth. The longer we do something, naturally people may feel they have it figured it out. Younger therapists may be more in touch with their difficulties, shortcomings, and areas for growth as a therapist by virtue of being relative newcomers to the field, only having 3,5, or 10 field experience. But having this awareness is key in the ability to grow as a therapist. In other words, its very difficult to grow if you think you have it all figured out.

3.    Industry Standards

Although we may not be conscious of it, very few people have serious discomfort about seeing medical residents or doctors fresh out of medical school. In fact, we may reason these doctors have cutting edge research and trained in the latest medical techniques that medical industry has to offer. Yet, when we think about mental health needs, suddenly these same realities are seen as a liability.

I imagine part of this is due to a misunderstanding on the true nature of counseling. To many, counseling is supposed to involve a meeting with soothsayer who looks into their psychological crystal ball and pronouncing what you are doing wrong and how to fix it. If this is the case, then of course you’d want someone who has spent years and year fine tuning their crystal-ball gazing. And believe me, there are those therapists out their dying for someone to sit at their feet. (HINT: Run away fast!). Perhaps to the chagrin of many therapists, we have no special powers.

 We are just people who are trained to listen in a particular way and then tell you what we see. Deciding what to do next and where to go from there is up to you, and a good therapist should put you in the driver’s seat, even when you try to squirm out of it. Therapists come along for the ride, and are willing to cry when you cry, rejoice when you rejoice, they can’t do the work for you. Your ability to trust what we say and incorporate it into your life is predicted on how well we can connect with you, not on our chronological age.

So, not only am I a therapist, but I’ve been to plenty. There’s good therapists out there and some really not-so-good-ones. I have no problem being honest about that. It’s just that being young or old doesn’t seem to impact the reality one way or another.

That is to say, there’s nothing wrong with seeing an older therapist if that’s what is important to you in some way. I have seen a good number of them myself, and they’ve been helpful.

I’m professional, non-judgmental, and expert in my specialties; however, I’m also youthful, energetic, and lively and I’ve seen these qualities become contagious. I’m certain you will be pleased with the outcome!

 Looking for counseling in Sacramento? Get your life back today! Start by making this simple call!

(916) 538-9288

Feel more comfortable with email? No problem, you can reach out to TrueGrowthTherapy@gmail.com


Where is my LGBTQ family?

Feeling like a burden?

Perhaps you or a loved one is lonely and disconnected from the LGBTQ+ community .


It’s tough to know how to get out there after you’ve just come out, moved to a city, or experienced a shift or change.

Many different types of communities and families exist around your city. The people whom we surround ourselves with have a huge impact on our well being. We are humans after all. Whether it be your biological or chosen family they are out there — in person, online, or sitting right next to you. Community and being connected to one another does wonders for our mental health.

There’s no doubt there are wonderful LGBTQ+ resources out there, but the connection doesn’t always happen. It can be scary to make the call, show up, and engage with new people. Working with a professional therapist can give you that extra push and ultimately support you to increase a sense of belonging.

I have created a running list of LGBTQ+ resources both in Sacramento and around the globe. Feel free to contact me if you know of other resources or would like to be placed on the list below


LGBTQ+ Resources

Hotlines and Self-Help

The Trevor Project
Hotline: 866-488-7386
Chat: thetrevorproject.org/lifelinechat
Q&A: thetrevorproject.org/asktrevor/
Social network: trevorspace.org              

Crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.

24hr Suicide Prevention Crisis Line         


Crisis Chat


~or~ text the word HOPE to 916-668-iCAN

Local LGBTQ Community Centers:

Sacramento LGBT Community Center

1927 L Street

Sacramento, CA 95811

916-442-0185 xt 100


Trained peers facilitate support groups for LGBT your/adults, coming out groups and a transgender support group.  Assistance in finding LGBT affirming counseling referrals.


PFLAG Sacramento

916- 978-0410  


PFLAG is a grassroots network of parents, families, friends and allies.

Local LGBTQ Health Center:

Gender Health Center

2020 29th St. Ste 21

Sacramento, CA 95817



Individual and couples counseling, hormone clinic for people who are transgender, legal clinics and name and gender change assistance.



Sacramento LGBTQ Resource Centers/Organizations:

Trans Resource Center through UCDavis


Provides referrals to trans-friendly doctors in the Sacramento region.


Gay-Straight Alliance

A support network for student-run clubs that bring together LGBTQ and straight students to support each other, provide a safe place to socialize, and create a platform for activism to fight homophobia and transphobia.

*College students* Campus Pride

A national organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students.

Golden Rule Services

(916) 427-4653


From their website: "Golden Rule Services offers a variety of free and confidential HIV, STD and Hepatitis C education and prevention services that are accessible, affordable and culturally and linguistically appropriate." This organization serves anyone in need of services, however, the founding ideology was based on the need to provide services for minorities within the community. In addition to testing and crises intervention, they also offer support groups for latina/latino and African American members of the community.


The Lavender Library

(916) 492-0558


From their website: "We loan books, periodicals, and DVD videos of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender interest to members, collect items that preserve the LGBT experience in the Sacramento area and sponsor lectures, exhibits and cultural events for the community.”

There are also many online communities for LGBTQ+ individuals. Used safely, the internet can provide a sense of community for many folks who may prefer to talk online.

Need help talking to a loved one?


When someone you love appears to be “off” or “not acting like themselves”, it’s hard to know what to say and how to help.

Here are four quick and solid tips.

What do I say? I don’t think they want to talk about it. What if I make them “more depressed”? Even though my loved one seems out of balance, they seem to be managing it so I’ll leave it alone. Our intentions are inherently good — we want to help.

Depression manifests in so many different ways. It visits people in a variety of forms and affects people differently — so how can I help ____loved one_____ ?


Sometimes it’s hard to know if your friend is going through a rough patch or is experiencing something like depression and/or anxiety. Your loved one may appear a mess or even irritable. The important thing to look for are changes and when you notice these changes check in with them about it. 


Listen to your loved one. Simple enough, but just sitting and listening can make a incredible impact. Resist any urges to “fix it” and encourage them to continue sharing with a mental health professional. 


It’s hard to start the conversation with your loved one. Even though the person may not feel like talking, you try. “I’ve noticed you look down lately. I don’t know how to, but I’m here to help.” Or “you seem sad lately. How can I help you?”. Starting the conversation is a way to bring light into a dark place. Depression thrives in darkness and subsides in the light. 


Encourage your loved one to get help from a professional. The person may want to start by telling another support like a family member or community member about what’s been going on. Help them find professional help and even help them make their first appointment if necessary. These tips ebb and flow depending on unique traits and circumstances. If they don’t feel comfortable with the first health professional, then you could help them find another. 

Be yourself. Be a good listener. And don’t give up on them.