Client Experience: Using Equilateral EMDR – Adolescent client with PTSD

Client Experience: Using Equilateral EMDR – Adolescent client with PTSD

This writing is part of a collection of My Clients’ Experiences.  You may see yourself in these experiences or you may have other issues you feel the techniques I use may help you with.

Below is a counseling experience in which Dr. Timothy Test and I had use Equilateral EMDR with an adolescent client with PTSD beginning with early childhood trauma.

Client Experience Utilizing Equilateral EMDR

Tim and Lauren

Dr. Timothy Test and Lauren

“John” is a senior in high school who has suffered from chronic anxiety, PTSD, and behavioral problems since he was a young child.  He finds it difficult to go to school in the morning and misses school frequently.  He often feels isolated, finding it difficult to relate to his peers.  John had experienced abuse, physically and emotionally, and witnessed things growing up in an abusive environment that he feels most kids his age could never imagine.

During the counseling session [1] John was asked to focus on what concerned him at the present time, which was stigma associated with a mental health diagnosis.  [2] When asked what feelings he felt currently about this concern and the thoughts he has about them, he described his frustration, however was happy with the way he handles this since beginning therapy with us.  [3] This information was used to install a positive resource (a coping skill).  [4] Lauren, one of our mules we use for therapy, was utilized to help install the resource.  [5] John was able to practice using this resource at the end of his session and was encouraged to use it throughout the week.

Session Outcome

This was a very successful session that helped our client learn how to process stressful situations differently and learn a new coping skill.  This session, in addition to many others in which we utilize the mules, demonstrated how Equilateral EMDR is a great approach in helping clients with trauma develop coping skills and resources to help them deal with daily stress.


Mindfulness in Therapy

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that was developed in the ancient Buddhist tradition and continues to be practiced today.  Itmeditation1 involves obtaining a calm and conscious awareness of one’s body functions and feelings.  Currently, many therapists are incorporating this practice of mindfulness meditation with cognitive behavioral therapy to form a treatment for a variety of mental and physical conditions including substance use disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and pain.  Some of the mindfulness-based therapy techniques currently in use include Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR).  Many books, DVDs, and Internet websites are available for any person interested in learning about this practice.  In addition there are many studies available for review that reveal the many uses and benefits of mindfulness meditation techniques, demonstrating this is evidence-based therapy we can incorporate with confidence for a variety of therapeutic needs.

Additional value in mindfulness meditation is that it is a non-drug treatment.  For those battling drug addictions, drug treatments may not be an option to treat co-occurring PTSD and pain.  Drug dependence theories posit that drug dependence is a disease state, in which physical dependency on the substance eventually leads to the compulsive and repetitive use of the substance despite the negative consequences to the user’s health, mental state, or social life (Shen, Orson, & Kosten, 2012).   This drug dependence is often a result of prescription drugs.  Research has revealed that individuals prescribed opioid drugs, used for the treatment of chronic pain, had a significantly higher rate of misuse than those with a history of drug abuse who were not prescribed opioids (Pohl & Smith, 2012).   This has become a serious problem in the United States with the overuse, abuse, and addiction to opioid medications.  Opioid dependence is considered to be a lifelong, chronic, and relapsing disorder for the individual (Shen, Orson, & Kosten, 2012).  Therefore, in patients who have a history of addiction or other risk factors for developing addiction, opioids should be prescribed with consideration of their tendency.  The need to explore alternatives is obvious.  Mindfulness techniques that address even complex co-occurring disorders such as substance use disorder with PTSD and pain are worthy of exploration.  At dohi Center for Well-being we utilize mindfulness techniques in counseling as well as teach Mindfulness Meditation to the clients we see, and we are very pleased with the results.


Pohl, M., & Smith, L. (2012). Chronic pain and addiction: challenging co-occurring disorders. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs44(2), 119-124. doi:10.1080/02791072.2012.684621

Shen, X., Orson, F., & Kosten, T. (2012). Vaccines against drug abuse. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics91(1), 60-70. doi:10.1038/clpt.2011.281