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Touchstone News

EMDR Therapy, Demystified

Discover the profound impact of healing early traumas in the latest episode of Kate White's "A More Beautiful Life Podcast" with our own renowned expert on the subject, Dr. Mara Tesler Stein, as they share valuable insights into trauma-focused care, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and the significance of recognizing and integrating earliest life experiences.

The following Q&As from the interview are an abridgement. To view the whole interview, scroll to the bottom of this page.

Q: What gaps have you seen in mental health care for mothers and families?

When I was in the hospital in the first six months after my girls came home, I grew increasingly depressed and appalled at the lack of emotional awareness and support for what I had just been through, which was altogether 16 weeks of hospitalization - six and a half for me and my girls for ten.

They came home with oxygen and apnea monitors and it wasn't over. It was then that I realized, well, if nobody is filling that gap, then I need to. So, that's how the development of the book project started.

Image of the book "Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey" by Deborah L. Davis and Dr. Mara Tesler Stein. The book is placed on a wooden nightstand next to a small, green succulent in a white pot. The cover of the book is visible, featuring a soft, pastel color scheme.

Similarly, I was working with clients and was still very much in my own cave in a way. I was social at that point, but there was no social media, you know? I connected with Debbie [Davis] and we started doing our work, but I was starting to see where I was getting stuck. So, I got trained in EMDR. And then, I got trained in several kinds of gold standard models of couples therapy, and over time, got trained in hypnotherapy and Brainspotting. So, I saw the gaps personally that I needed to fill because I wasn't providing what my clients' needed. I was also raising my kids and doing my thing - life was happening - doing EMDR and therapy, and a lot of this.

As my kids got older - high school, college - I popped my head up. Social media was everywhere! And I didn't know what was happening. I was looking beyond my little space and collaborating with colleagues, but I wasn't oriented to the larger perinatal space. So, I started talking with other perinatal specialists, which was incredibly exciting. Historically, I've been the only one of my kind when I would go to a specialized training and they would look at me like, "there's trauma there? What kind of trauma are you talking about?"

Q: What is perinatal trauma and how do you work with it?

What I saw was that in the world of trauma-focused therapists, EMDR therapists in particular, people did not know much, if anything, about perinatal specific trauma.

When people think about perinatal trauma, they immediately go to trauma during birthing; maybe they think about perinatal bereavement, when a fetus dies or when a baby dies. But one of the things I wanted to help people see was all of the other places where trauma lives in the perinatal period - where the vulnerabilities are, where the ruptures can happen - and they can happen across so many dimensions.

Now I have a three-day course, because how you work with it is so much about all of the