Mary Ann Abosch, MA, LMFT

EMDR Trauma Therapy


EMDR Trauma Therapy

“Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change that you do choose.” ” — Michelle Rosenthall

award-winning trauma and PTSD author

Gabor Mate’, MD, renowned author, speaker, and expert on trauma, addiction, and the mind/body connection talks about trauma in the following ways:

"Trauma isn’t what happens to you, it is what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you.”

“The essence of trauma is disconnection from ourselves. Trauma is not terrible things that happen from the other side—those are traumatic. But the trauma is that very separation from the body and emotions.” ​

“Trauma is a psychic wound that hardens you psychologically that then interferes with your ability to grow and develop. It pains you and now you’re acting out of pain. It induces fear and now you’re acting out of fear.”

“Trauma is that scarring that makes you less flexible, more rigid, less feeling and more defended.”

I couldn’t agree with Mate’ more which is why I say:

You are not your trauma! You are experiencing the effects of what you have gone through.

I’m Mary Ann Abosch, a certified EMDR therapist which means I’ve gone beyond the basic training to achieve professional credentialing through extended training and consultation. and mindfulness teacher. I offer in-person and online I offer in-person and online EMDR to help adults heal from trauma. I work responsibly and compassionately knowing that although EMDR is a structured and contained approach, it can still be challenging. As a human being, you are wired for survival and many of the behaviors, thoughts, and emotions you experience are attempts at helping you survive traumatic experiences. Trauma makes an imprint on the brain, so to speak, and impacts the limbic system which governs behavioral and emotional responses. When traumatic experiences haven’t been properly supported or processed, the memory resides in the limbic brain area and you remain susceptible to emotional activation, emotional suppression, physical compromise, behavioral struggles, and more. Contact me to discuss how EMDR can be a fit for you. Let’s get you moved from survival mode to living your best life and thriving.

More About Trauma

What Is Trauma?

There are three main types of trauma: Acute, Chronic, or Complex

  • Acute trauma results from a single incident. It is specific and has a beginning, middle, and an end such as a vehicle accident.
  • Chronic trauma is repeated and prolonged such as domestic violence or bullying.
  • Complex trauma involves experiencing chronic trauma with long term emotional and physical symptoms such as prolonged neglect or repeated medical emergencies.

Examples of traumatic events include:

  • Natural disaster
  • Death of a loved one
  • Criminal episode
  • Emotional, psychological, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Military warfare
  • National or global emergency (e.g., COVID-19)
  • Natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes)
  • Physical attack
  • Discrimination due to gender identity, sexual orientation, race, or cultural background
  • Witnessing others enduring a traumatic event

While some people process these painful incidents, others suffer long-term consequences that affect their well-being.

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress?

Imagine you experience an armed robbery in the street. Your nervous system may activate its fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response to protect you. You might try to resist the robber (fight), run away (flight), submit, (fawn), or remain still (freeze/dissociate).


Let’s say you manage to escape and go home. Your nervous system may simmer down as you return to safety. You might be shaken, yet move on after a few days. 

But if you don’t process the event adaptively, you may sustain lasting emotional, physical, and mental wounds. Certain factors could trigger the same distressing response (e.g., hearing street sounds or passing by the corner where the robbery occurred). 

These persistent effects are known as post-traumatic stress symptoms


Common post-traumatic stress symptoms include the following and can vary person to person:


  • Flashbacks or nightmares
  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Avoiding places, activities, or people that remind you of the traumatic event
  • Negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or the world
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Being on guard for danger
  • Irritability, angry outbursts, or aggressive behavior 


If you are experiencing any of these signs or if trauma is preventing you from enjoying your life, EMDR therapy can help you.

EMDR is an eight phase treatment developed in the 1980s by Francine Shapiro, PhD. It’s recognized by numerous reputable organizations, including the World Health Organization, the American Psychological Association, and the National Alliance for Mental Illness. It’s different from traditional talk therapy. You won’t be asked to talk about your experience over and over which can be retraumatizing.

In this structured, holistic treatment, you’ll focus on a distressing memory while going through bi-lateral brain stimulation. This is done by applying a stimulus such as two-way eye movement or body taps, an auditory stimulus such as tones/sounds, or a tactile stimulus such as vibrations. Bi-lateral brain stimulation activates thoughts, emotions, and somatic (bodily) reactions at the same time. This type of stimulation allows the distressing memory to be “reprocessed” and stored adaptively in the brain. The negative effects of the memory become “desensitized” and your problematic symptoms are alleviated or eliminated altogether. You heal and live with freedom you may never thought was possible.

What Can EMDR Therapy Help With?

While EMDR was developed to treat trauma and PTSD, it continues to evolve and its applications are diverse. It can be used to bring relief to the following:


  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Depression
  • Grief and Loss
  • Self-esteem struggles
  • Phobias
  • Pain
  • Addiction
  • Sleep issues



What takes place during EMDR:

The Eight Phases


1) History + Treatment Planning

I’ll gather your history, discuss the problem that has brought you to therapy, and prepare a treatment plan with specific targets and goals. We’ll discuss any event(s) from your past that created the problem, look at present situations that cause you distress, and focus on skills you need to learn for your future well-being. It’s never necessary for you to discuss disturbing memories in detail. If I were to ask you “What happened that made you feel so afraid?” you can simply say, “I remember being bullied in 6th grade.” I need very little information to identify the target we will reprocess.


2) Preparation

I’ll walk you through the EMDR process and answer your questions. It’s important for you to have coping techniques to rapidly navigate any heightened emotion that might arise, so I’ll teach you a few and we’ll discover what works best for you. If you already have techniques that are effective, we’ll review them making sure they are strong.

3) Assessment

We’ll identify and access your target memory in a contained way, including any related mental images, beliefs, emotions, and physical sensations. The idea is to get a baseline of how distressing the memory is in order to evaluate positive change. Negative self-beliefs, for example “I am not safe”, can occur with distressing events and I’ll help you identify what your belief is. You’ll also identify a positive self-belief, for example “I am safe now”, that you would rather have. Next, in Phase 5, we’ll work to increase the strength of this belief so it can replace the negative one.


4) Desensitization

You’ll focus briefly on your target memory while I lead you in sets of bi-lateral stimulation which can be done several ways. Examples of bi-lateral stimulation are: Eye movements, self-tapping, listening to alternating sounds, hand vibrations using sensors, foot tapping, tapping on a drum, etc. I’ll pause intermittently and ask what you’re noticing about thoughts, emotions, or body sensations. I’ll continue applying bi-lateral stimulation until your target memory is neutralized. EMDR does not take the memory away from you. The goal is for you to be undisturbed by the distressing memory, feel positively about yourself in relation to the memory, and gain understanding and perspectives which will lead to healthy behaviors.


5) Installation

Now that you have reprocessed your target memory and it no longer disturbs you, we’ll work to increase the strength of your positive self-belief and “install” it in your brain. I’ll apply sets of bi-lateral stimulation until you feel the belief is completely true.


6) Body Scan

Positive self-beliefs are important to well-being. They need to be believed on more than just an intellectual level. After installing your positive self-belief, I’ll ask you to bring your target memory to mind, seeing if you notice any remaining tension in your body. If you do, we’ll reprocess the sensations with bi-lateral stimulation until they are neutralized, and your body feels good in association with the memory.


7) Closure

It’s important for you to leave in a relaxed state at the end of every EMDR session. If needed, I’ll help you apply calming techniques of your choice or make suggestions. Techniques can include mindful breathing, guided visualization, aroma therapy, listening to soothing music, or other grounding practices. We can also talk about the session if that is helpful or talk about anything else that promotes calmness. I’ll brief you on what to expect in between sessions and how to handle any uncomfortable emotions that may arise.


8) Reevaluation

We will start new sessions by revisiting your treatment plan, goals, and progress over time. I want to make sure that your treatment results are maintained. If more reprocessing is needed to give you relief, we’ll discuss that and identify another target memory we can work on.

Please know you will be in control throughout the sessions. If at any point you need to stop or take a moment to regroup, we will do so.

EMDR Therapy in Los Angeles at Mary Ann Abosch Psychotherapy

I provide EMDR therapy to teens and adults living in Santa Monica and its surrounding areas (Culver City, Venice, Playa Vista, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Westwood, and West LA). I also have cutting-edge wireless equipment to offer virtual EMDR sessions throughout California. 


As a certified EMDR therapist, I follow a structured and contained approach. Peeling back the onion or talking in detail about your trauma can be triggering. Instead, I’ll ask you to briefly identify and focus on the distressing memory when appropriate. And I’ll spend time developing your internal resources, so you know how to ground and self-soothe if you get overwhelmed.


You are safe here.

Ready to Try EMDR?

Don’t let an unfortunate moment or series of events define your story. Let’s partner up and tap into your brain’s natural healing power.

Call 310-804-5429 or contact me to book a free consultation for EMDR therapy.