A Prince Harry-approved treatment helps trauma survivors recover

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Counselors at Catholic Charities’ Providence House Domestic Violence Services in Ocean County (pictured, right) have introduced an innovative psychotherapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, to help women recover from sexual trauma experienced within their intimate partner relationship.

Developed over 25 years ago, EMDR is regarded as an effective, evidence-based treatment used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other traumas. Prince Harry has publicly talked about benefiting from EMDR during his mental health journey. The British royal even recently allowed cameras to document the experience for his docuseries “The Me You Can’t See.”

EMDR is a phased, focused approach to treating trauma and other symptoms by reconnecting the client in a safe and measured way to the images, self-thoughts, emotions, and body sensations associated with the trauma. It essentially rewires the brain to regard the trauma differently. EMDR therapy takes its name from one phase of treatment in which therapists track and direct the client’s eye movements as the client relives the traumatic or triggering experience in brief doses. The theory is that recalling distressing events is typically less upsetting when one’s attention is diverted, so that a therapist can help the client reprocess her disturbing feelings.

Transforming trauma into strength and resilience

“The goal of EMDR therapy is to help clients reprocess traumatic events,” said Ellen D’Elia, a licensed clinical social worker at Providence House. “Many of our clients have been victims of physical and sexual abuse. EMDR therapy allows clients to reprocess these events and acquire the skills to improve functioning.”

Providence House therapists were able to receive EMDR training thanks to a Trauma, Recovery, Education and Empowerment (TREE) grant Catholic Charities received in 2019.

All of Providence House’s services are free and confidential. They include domestic violence education, Safe Houses, support groups, individual therapy, specialized creative arts therapy for children, legal advocacy, holiday assistance, and more.

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FOR INFORMATION, contact Ellen D’Elia at Providence House at (732) 244-8259 or Dana DiFilippo, communications, at ddifilippo@cctrenton.org or (215) 756-6277. For help or to support Providence House, call (609) 871-7551 in Burlington County or (732) 244-8259 in Ocean County.

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