Join Maria in Episode 23 as she engages in a captivating conversation with Katrina Blair, a multifaceted woman who wears the hats of a devoted wife, caring mom, and business owner of Alpha Behavioral Counseling Center and Omega Mental Health. In this enlightening episode, Katrina, a seasoned Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) with over two decades of experience, shares her warmth, understanding, and acceptance in counseling, particularly as a multicultural, BIPOC therapist navigating diverse cultural backgrounds.
Katrina's educational journey, rooted in the heart of California's Central Valley, unfolds as she earned her BA in Social Work and MS in Marriage and Family Therapy from California State University, Fresno. As a Certified Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) therapist and EMDR Consultant in Training, Katrina dives into the origins of EMDR, explores trauma symptoms, and provides valuable insights into the various training levels.
This episode serves as a comprehensive guide to EMDR, shedding light on its applications and offering guidance on identifying certified therapists. Katrina illustrates with examples of some of the movements used to soothe the nervous system, providing listeners with a clear understanding of how EMDR addresses mental health challenges, specifically in the treatment of PTSD and anxiety and more.
The conversation takes an intriguing turn as Katrina and Maria pivot into the realm of wine, where Katrina shares her love for sweet wines and offers insights on mindful consumption. Tune in for an informative and engaging discussion that unpacks the nuances of EMDR as a healing therapy.
Featured on this Episode:
To learn more about Katrina Blair and her work:
On Instagram: @alphabehavioralcounseling
S2 EP23 Journey to Healing: Unveiling EMDR with Katrina Blair
Maria Mayes: right, so I am really excited to be back with you chakras and chardonnay listeners and I'm very excited about my guest today. So Katrina Blair is going to be joining us and I'm so excited that she said yes to my invitation to come on and share some of her wisdom with us. So Katrina, is not only a wife and mom and a business owner, but she's also been practicing therapy for over 20 years.
And there's just so much wisdom that she can bring with that. Specifically today, I asked her to, um, offer some insights on EMDR. Therapy. So that's what we're going to get into shortly. But I also just have to stay in observing Katrina over the last few years. Um, she's also a Take 5, um, member and, um, has just Been an example.
I think of what a leader truly needs to be in [00:01:00] terms of walking the walk and talking the talk in terms of being the example for her team of taking the time to step away from her exhaustive to do list and reconnect with herself. So I'm just always in admiration of her and how she walks through this life and super excited that she's here today.
So thank you so much Katrina for joining us today.
Katrina: Thank you. Thank you for having
Maria Mayes: me. Yeah. Is there anything I left out of the short introduction there that you want to emphasize before we get into the EMDR stuff?
Katrina: Nope, that covers it. Thank you. All
Maria Mayes: right. So if you don't mind just taking us on a little bit of a journey here with EMDR, starting with what the heck is it?
Katrina: Yes, absolutely. So I know a lot of you have probably heard the term EMDR and some of you May or may not know what it is or have had your own experience or somebody in your life that has experienced it. So I'm going to go through a little bit of the history first, just so we have some background [00:02:00] and then a little bit more about it.
So EMDR stands for eye movement. desensitization, reprocessing. You'll hear us, me say EMDR, but, um, that's what it stands for. And we'll go in a little bit more detail about what that means in a bit. So it's not your typical talk therapy. So it does incorporate, um, what we would call like a bottom up processing.
And what that means is it does incorporate various including, um, the physical or somatic body. And that is something that I think is really important. And I emphasize within my clients and my training, because. I feel like it's all connected. You know, mind, body, spirit. So we want to connect that in with our mental health as well.
I'm going to go a little into the history just so we have some context. So it was developed by a psychologist in the late 1980s. Her name is Dr. Francine Shapiro. And how she found it was she was actually out on a walk. And so while she was [00:03:00] walking, she was thinking of a distressing event and she was moving her eyes.
So you think of that walking, you're walking, you're moving your legs, left to right, left to right. And at the same time, she happened to be moving her eyes. And then she noticed that as she continued with her walk and moving her eyes, that distressing event seemed less distressing. So she's like, well, Hey, maybe I have something here.
So of course, you know, now. Many decades later and many moons later of research. Um, she, um, you know, this theory has come and a lot of us practitioners are being trained in it. And, um, that's what the basis of the start of a EMDR, how it started. And so, um, I'm so grateful for that, you know, because then it's now led all of us to be able to work with, um, clients and even with ourselves in terms of using this modality.
So. Yeah, that's just
Maria Mayes: fascinating. I had no idea that that's how it started. And I love, I just want to circle back to how you started with it, it having to do with the physical and the semantics, right? [00:04:00] Because that's so in tune, um, you know, with what we talk about a lot within Take 5 and, and just how the body Retains these emotions and retains these past experiences and traumas versus processing them through and allowing them to be released.
And so in the Ayurvedic perspective, everything from our food to what we drink, to our experiences, to our traumas, our emotions, our feelings, everything needs to be through and out of the body. So I love this. So in alignment. So, um. Thank you so much. So continue, continue. I'm just To
Katrina: Maria's point, you know, we're just trying to get some of those stuck emotions.
We're trying to get them unstuck. Basically, that's the short, short version of it. So what we do is, um, this therapy has been extensively researched, as I mentioned, and it helps people to recover from trauma, post traumatic Stress disorder. You might hear me say PTSD. Um, and there's a lot of other grief [00:05:00] and loss, which a lot of us, you know, have been through that in these past few years, anxiety, depression, addictions, even chronic pain.
So there's special protocols for some of these things that. Some practitioners are trained in such as like chronic pain addictions, but it can treat all the others. And so with that, we use the bilateral stimulation. So you may hear me say BLS, which means bilateral stimulation, and that is that left to right movement that I mentioned earlier, but with www.
edu. au taps, or some therapists have certain tools that are called like light bars or, um, little, uh, things that you can hold that give a, um, a vibration left to right in the hands or in different areas of the body. So I'm going to show an example and a little bit of, um, bilateral stimulation just on myself.
And it's going to be a tool that anybody can use. Doesn't mean you have to be in the EMDR therapy, [00:06:00] but it's just more of a tool to help relax the body and calm the body. And, um, So that is the basis of EMDR. I'll go a little bit more into, um, a little bit more into, um, some of the logistics, I guess, if that makes sense.
I won't go too far into it because of course, if you become a EMDR client, you will learn a lot of this, uh, the first. There's eight phases. The first few phases are just about that psychoeducation piece. So there's a lot of education that goes into it prior because we want to make sure that our clients feel that they have the informed consent.
Sure. Sure. So
Maria Mayes: I have a couple of questions around that. A couple of things came up. One is, um, do you have to be a licensed therapist in order to be an EMDR practitioner? Great
Katrina: question. So, yes, um, you do not have to be a licensed therapist, but you do have to be, um, an associate therapist, but under the supervision of a licensed therapist.
So with EMTR, um, there are different, I guess we can call them, um, [00:07:00] categories. And so the first is that the EMDR, um, practitioner gets trained. So I did my training about eight years ago. And, um, once you get trained, then you get a certification. And then from there, you, you can stop, you can start practicing.
You can be an associate therapist or a licensed therapist. But to move into the next phase, the certified EMDR therapist, you must be licensed. So the next phases I'm going to talk about, they are all for licensed providers. And we have various license types here in California. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist.
There's licensed professional clinical counselors. You might hear the LPCC. Or there's licensed clinical social workers, all great, um, all, you know, can be trained. And then so the next step or the next phase would be the EMDR certification, which I am, I'm an EMDR certified therapist, and I've been certified for a few years now.
And with that, it, of course, it's, uh, you need to do additional training, additional practice hours, um, additional, [00:08:00] um, Uh, educational requirements. And then the next phase, I guess we can call it the third, is an EMDR, um, consultant in training. I'm also that. So what that means is I'm doing all those things above along with consulting with, um, somebody who is a consultant.
And then so once you move into these last two phases, it's more about educating and doing consultation for the therapists that are training. So
Maria Mayes: you're training the trainer,
Katrina: so to speak. Yes. So that's what I'm doing currently. And of course I do have my own clients, but I am also training the trainers. And then once I finished this phase, I'll become a full EMDR consultant, which means that, um, I no longer have, I mean, we're always going to consult, but I no longer have to do that official consultation.
Um, but just continue up with my, um, continuing education and things like that. So yes, to answer your question, you, um, to be a certified therapist. EMDR, you do have to be licensed and we are governed under an organization, which is called EMDRIA. Um, the [00:09:00] website is EMDRIA. org. And I was going to mention that anyhow, just because you can go on there.
There's great, great resources. I would strongly recommend if anybody wants to know more, you know, outside of this you can go there and you can also find a therapist, you know, we're here in California, but you can find a therapist anywhere. And it's abroad. Um, it's, yes, United States, but EMDR is international.
So we have organizations outside of the states as well.
Maria Mayes: Beautiful. So I'll definitely include that along with all your contact information in the show notes. Um, I, so another thing that came up for me, and I think that's, Just to kind of circle back on that, I think we're in a world right now, especially since I'm in the coaching world where there's a lot of people putting on a title of coach or, or healer or this or that, right?
And they may or may not have gone through extensive training. So for those of us who've gone through extensive training, it's It's a little, you know, scary because you think, wow, how would I be rolling through this life if I [00:10:00] hadn't gone through all that, right? So I, I really appreciate you taking us through that because I think it's really important the fact that, um, you know, there are several licenses needed or options for different licenses needed and that supervision required, uh, and that additional training.
And the governing board. It's all huge to just add that credibility, legitimacy, and then all that data to support that too. So thank you for taking us into that. Um, yeah, let's continue on the path. And I think I have a few more questions, but I'm gonna, I think you'll probably answer them in our conversation here.
Katrina: Yes, absolutely. So. Just continuing on just about the education of EMDR. So at the core of it is the concept of memory reprocessing, which we talked a little bit about. When a person undergoes a traumatic event or experiences distressing memories, the brain may struggle to fully process and integrate The associated emotions.
So that's what we get into the body and information as a result, these memories can remain unprocessed, or sometimes we use the word stuck, you know, um, [00:11:00] and then that can continue to trigger anxiety or depression or whatever the symptom is in your presence. So EMDR uses a three pronged approach. So we're, um, going back into the past with, you know, with the guidance of the therapist, briefly, we're touching on it.
We're trying to bring you into the present day so that you can, um, have list. Less distress in the present. And then we're even going into the future. Like, how do you, you know, say, I'll give an example, but say, um, something happened in your past. How would you deal with this situation again? So just a brief example, and hopefully this doesn't apply to anybody or doesn't trigger anybody, but I'll just use a car accident.
And if you need to tune it out for a minute, that's fine. I'm not going to go into graphic details, but say you've gotten to a car accident, you're driving on the freeway and that certain specific spot, um, Okay. You know, it was a bad car accident and the car was total, but you know, you're okay, but you know, emotionally, physically, you're not okay.
So, you know, a year past is two years past and you still can't go drive past that same specific spot. Why? Because then that, that those [00:12:00] past, as I mentioned, the past memories come up, you know, you may, you may, um, start crying. You may, um, tighten up, you may, um, just the body might, the body remembers, right?
So the body might experience something, the mind might experience something. And so you don't take that route anymore. You know, you go around, you go different route. So with the successful EMDR processing, um, the hope is that, yes, you're going to remember there was a car accident, but you're going to be able to just drive right past that area with little to no distress.
Meaning like, yes, I know, I know something happened, but you can drive past there. So that's how we get you into the present and in the future that you can continue to drive past there with little to no distress is the
Maria Mayes: objective. Wow, I love that and such a good example. I mean, when you were saying and I got kind of a little energy shower over here because I had that same situation, literally, and I remember where on the freeway.
First, I would find myself because I was hit from behind 10th Not even realizing it, but full body tension, right? Neck, [00:13:00] shoulders, fist, gripping the wheel, the whole thing, exactly what you're sharing. And it took a minute, um, more than a minute because I didn't do EMDR, but some other therapies to, um. To be able to drive past that location and not be, um, not have any sort of physiological, uh, reaction.
So, such a great example and I'm sure a lot of people can, can relate to it. So that really helps me understand it. Thank you for
Katrina: that example. Absolutely, yes. , give the example I mentioned earlier and then how I put this into practice for myself, maybe why I believe in it is because, um, as I mentioned, the first part is we have to go through training.
So part of our training is we are the example client, and then we are also practicing the role of therapist. Of course, this is all under, you know, guided supervision. So when I first was trained many years ago, um, you know, I had to, Uh, being the role of a client and it was, it worked, you know, I had, I'm not going to go into all the details, but I shared, um, in my late teens, early twenties, I had a workplace [00:14:00] trauma and, um, of course shared that in my, um, training with the therapist who was also in training.
And then as I shared through that, you know, I'm now able to talk about it with. pretty neutral, you know, like, no, like you mentioned, no, no clenching, no stress, no tears. I, I now know that yes, this has happened, but I also know that it's not happening right now. And it was in the past. And so to see that impact, um, just right there immediately, um, in my life.
And to see the changes that it made then, right. Then, you know, then, and there, I knew this was something I wanted to continue to learn something I wanted to, um, you know, be able to provide to my clients. And throughout the years, I continue to hear stories of just some life changes that have happened through EMDR.
So that's something that I really value. I
Maria Mayes: love that. Thank you for sharing that personal story because it always helps us kind of tune in more, more. With whoever we're working with, knowing that, and that's true of most of us, right, in this, in this realm, is that, you know, when you receive healing like that through [00:15:00] whatever modality it is, in this case, EMDR, the power, I mean, I could feel the energetic power just of you describing that.
So, um, the fact that you're, you're paying that forward now. To your clients is just huge. So, and then to train other practitioners on this, you're, you're taking that ripple effect and, you know, creating more waves. So I love that. How long I'm just wondering, so how many sessions, um, is, and there probably isn't an average, but what's kind of the, the minimum where you've seen within your client base is, okay, we have this big transformation and when does it ever get to a point where it's like, You've been doing this too long in the end.
Maybe it's just not going to work for you. So just a little bit on the timeframe would be really helpful.
Katrina: Absolutely. Yeah. Great question. So it does depend, of course, on the context of the trauma or the loss or the grief. Um, there are what we call, um, I don't want to, uh, we call big T or little T trauma.
So, uh, it doesn't, [00:16:00] you know, doesn't mean that a little T trauma was not significant, but it may be something of a lesser trauma for that person. So that may be able to be resolved, um, as short as three sessions. Um, maybe Three to five sessions, but there's no guarantee, you know, we, in the beginning, we, we don't set the expectation of like, you're going to have this many sessions.
We just kind of say, Hey, you know, we're going to go with it. And then once we see, cause we do, um, some testing around the level of distress and things like that. So once we see that, that level of distress has gone down, then either we move on to what we call another target or. Another incident, um, or, you know, maybe there's just the single incident trauma.
So those would be a little shorter, um, maybe three to five sessions, but a lot of, um, our population is what we call complex PTSD. So we do have longer sessions. Um, It could, you know, and it could vary. I can't give a quite a range. I mean, it can go up to a year, a year, but we have seen people in EMDR therapy, I would say in and out for longer than that.
But I think it's [00:17:00] important to emphasize that in and out. And the reason I say that is because we often go back and target, um, there may have been a car accident, as I mentioned earlier, but then we often go back and target, um, um, earlier childhood memories. It goes all the way back to attachment and things like that.
And I'm not saying that the person in the car accident necessarily has had other traumas, but if they have, we're going back, you know, so we need to go back and see what's going on there. And as we go back, we start to break what we call trauma chains. So as we break those chains, We may not need to target every single distressing event.
We may target something from back in early childhood, or what we call an attachment wound, or something that may or may not happen with the primary caregiver. And as we target that, that starts to show up in the person's present day life. Some folks don't even know in That they may or may not have had that attunement or attachment with their caregiver or whomever.
And then they, you know, they're, they have these symptoms in the present day life. But as we go back, then we start to explore and attune and then [00:18:00] get that information, which then can help them in the present. But of course, that's going to be a little longer process, what we would call the big T traumas or the multiple traumas or complex.
Maria Mayes: Sure. So if you're, if you're working with a client, let's say on a scale of one to 10, and they've got like a nine, And they've got a two, when you start the process, would you, I'm sure it depends on the client, right? But would you dive into the nine or you start somewhere at a five or how, how does
Katrina: that work?
So that would be an example where they had maybe just say two different traumas. One is gauging out a nine and one is gauging out a two. It honestly depends. So sometimes we, uh, the protocol tells us to go back to the first and the worst, but other times, uh, just depending on the clients, we, uh, window tolerance, which is something that, you know, you're familiar with as well.
We may go a little quicker to the two so that that way they can feel that relief and then buy in or believe in the process. So sure. Okay. Honestly depends on the the distress and what that what that [00:19:00] level was for that target. Thank you
Maria Mayes: for clarifying that. And I think that's really I think that's a beautiful offering to have the option to get that smaller trauma experience to get that buy in because a lot of times we need that.
We just need to really believe before we're ready to go, you know, jump off the cliff. So, yes, that's awesome.
Katrina: I did want to add to that, you mentioned the time frame of some, some things that may be possible adverse effects to EMDR and this, I'm not a medical doctor, so we would encourage the client to check with their doctor, but there are certain medications that, um, you know, May, uh, when we're doing the eye movements, the stimulation, you know, may interfere with that.
So we'd want to, um, you know, talk with their doctor. If a client has, um, epilepsy, we may want to have them check with their doctor. Migraines doesn't mean you can't do an EMDR with migraines. It's just the practitioner may need to change the way we're doing the bilateral stimulation or the eye movements.
So those would be things I would definitely, um, caution people [00:20:00] to keep in mind. And we're trained, um, you know, to. Have them consult with their doctor on
Maria Mayes: explore that as you're doing the initial consult. Okay. Yeah, that's great to know because, um, you know, there's so many different interconnections with all this stuff.
Right? So love that. Um, so in your experience with other, um, with other therapists that you've trained and just within your own practice, how has this helped you move the needle more for clients? Like just from a broad perspective.
Katrina: Yes, we have just seen such success stories, you know, so I think what it's like you mentioned earlier that ripple effect, you know, you may have client Jane Doe who has been in EMDR therapy for six months and doing some great work.
Then that client may tell their cousin or their nephew or whoever in the community. So it really, we have seen that power of, um, It being successful and then others telling others or just in general, it has become more mainstream. Um, people are [00:21:00] curious about it now. So then they may try it themselves or recommend somebody to try it and then they see the effects.
And, um, I think it's mental health in general is something that's just been more, um, widespread talked about needed. And so just seeing, um, seeing it within our clients brings me great joy because I do work with, um, you know, some of our staff, we have staff that are trained as well, working towards certification.
And so just seeing that. Movement has really, really been a great joy. Wow.
Maria Mayes: That's awesome. So beautiful. Um, I have one more question in regards to EMDR and that is you mentioned earlier, um, that involves sometimes taps as well. So like the EFT, you know, um, tapping has become really more mainstream too. In fact, I had an interview with, uh, uh, another guest recently about that.
And so can you explain how they are. Like and how they're different. I mean, it definitely this is I kind of know the answer to that question just from what you've shared. But if you could reiterate for the audience [00:22:00] to clarify that, I think it'd be
Katrina: helpful. Yes, absolutely. So and I'll share after I do that.
I'll share my examples. Oh, yeah, there's various kinds of tapping. I know EFT they and I'm not trained on it, of course. course, but I know they use certain tapping in certain, um, areas of the body, but I think it's a similar process of stimulating the brain, the bilateral stimulation. So, um, one type of tapping that, um, a therapist may administer is, um, and it, of course we would always ask if there's any injuries or, um, strain and things like that, but one would be just tapping gently, slowly.
on the knees left to right. Um, the client does this for themselves, but one that I use often, it's called the butterfly hug. I would encourage folks to look it up, but what you're doing is you're just starting by giving yourself a hug, which we all need a hug. So that inner child, and then you're just moving your arms.
Slowly let, I'm tapping your arms slowly left to right and then that induces that calming effect to the brain. And usually when we're doing this, [00:23:00] um, you can, you can just do it. You can play soothing music. I may be doing like a brief meditation, um, but it just really is able to help self soothe. So we just do that for, you know, less than a minute, help the client to calm.
And we may do that during the beginning of a session or end of a session. They can do it outside of a session. So this is one of the more commonly used ones called butterfly hug, but there's all kinds of tapping. So there is left to right. And then even with the eye movements. Um, we can engage the clients to, um, move their eyes left to right, uh, depends if we're in screen or on person, but we have different tools that we utilize to do that.
There's even programs that some therapists have that have a little ball on the screen that can move that left to right. So that's what we would call slow bilateral stimulation. But when you're actually doing the EMDR processing, which your therapist would notify you, we do fast, um, so you would, um, it'd be a different feel, but what we're trying to do with the slow is just calm the body.[00:24:00]
Maria Mayes: Yeah, and it did. I mean, we were just doing it together right now and it immediately dropped me into the, the parasympathetic, the more restful state. And you probably heard both of our voices get a little calmer.
Maria Mayes: beautiful, beautiful. So, any other, um, insights you want to offer, um, before we move this conversation into one about wine?
Katrina: No, I would just really encourage people to stay curious. Um, do your own research, but definitely if you're on the fence, like, should I try? Should I not give it a try? You know, um, we are trained, we know the protocol and I think you'd be in great hands with whatever provider you choose. And I really, really, really would encourage folks to just give it a try.
Maria Mayes: love that. And how do people get a hold of you if they'd like to choose your team or for therapists who maybe want to look at getting trained or getting counseled under you?
Katrina: Absolutely. So for my, um, team, we would just, you can go to our website, which is [00:25:00] www. abccenter. org. Inc. com. We actually have two companies, but most of our trained therapists are there.
We have several of them, very well trained. And then as far as consultation, which is direct with me, this would be for EMDR therapists that are looking for the certification or consult. process. Same, you can reach me through the website and then I will get back to you about when I have availabilities to consult and we do both individual and group consultation, which meets the needs of the MDREA, which is the organization I mentioned before, it meets the requirements for that.
Maria Mayes: Beautiful. So I'll include all those details in the show notes. And I highly recommend checking out if, if this has spiked any sort of curiosity in you reach out to Katrina, because if it's not through her directly, her team's amazing and, you know, through these beautiful technologies like zoom, we can do this, even if you're across the globe, you can still connect with them and, um, be able to really take your power back [00:26:00] through this modality.
Love it. So. I've been wanting to ask you about wine for a bit now. And so, um, I would love to know, Katrina, what's your favorite type of wine to mindfully sip?
Katrina: Moscato or sweet wine. So I'm a sweet, sweet kind of a wine taster. And, um, yeah, I just enjoy the cold glass of sweet wine would be.
Maria Mayes: Cold and sweet.
You know, it's interesting because I happen to know that you're a Pitta, which has more, uh, fire, right? Has more heat in it, so it makes sense that, that sweet, that earth element, as well as the, the cold to bring down some of that fire. It's actually pretty balancing, so, um, it makes sense that you're attracted to that.
So, I love that. Is there any particular, um, one that's kind of your go to, or anything you can share for folks to keep it mindful as you're Well,
Katrina: to keep it mindful, just, um, [00:27:00] slow, which is something I learned from Maria, so you're fully enjoying all of the taste and the notes in the wine. Um, Maria also gives us some tips on how to pair it.
I'm not all the way there yet, but I do try some different things, but, um, just slow. I would say you don't want to just. Guzzle it because then you're not going to enjoy it. So, yeah,
Maria Mayes: so true. Love it. So, and before I let you off the hook here, I do actually want to just thank you because you've been one of the earliest, uh, adopters to take five and have just been such a support and, um, you know, I love seeing your team use it and seeing, getting the feedback that you're using it with.
patients is amazing. So, um, thank you for your support there. And thank you for dropping all this wisdom our way. I really appreciate your willingness to come on and share today.
Katrina: Absolutely. Thank you. And you're welcome.