Hospice of Santa Barbara Uses Cutting Edge Therapy Proven Successful for Veterans with PTSD

Whenever possible, Hospice of Santa Barbara utilizes the most effective therapies to help their clients and patients through the difficult and painful experiences that come with grief and loss. One new treatment which a number of Hospice of Santa Barbara counselors use is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing); a short-term treatment modality utilizing eye movement to process trauma. This therapy has proven especially effective for veterans who return from duty with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Trauma gets stored in a part of the brain (the hippocampus) with all the original raw and vivid imagery sensations and thoughts. During EMDR, this material gets re-processed and stored in to different “files” of the brain, allowing the client to become more objective about the trauma. Clients come to a place of being able to remember the trauma without being flooded by painful and disturbing images and sensations. This technique is completely non-invasive and involves something called dual stimulation using bilateral eye movements, tones or taps. During the reprocessing phases, the client recalls past memories, present triggers, or anticipated future experiences while simultaneously focusing on a set of external stimulus. During that time, clients generally experience the emergence of insight, changes in memories, or new more positive associations.

Several Hospice of Santa Barbara counselors have been trained and certified in EMDR and are using it with their clients with great effectiveness. Clients often report feeling comforted and relieved in a way that talk therapy alone is unable to do.

“This added tool does not take away or replace the need for counseling, but it can complement it,” said David Selberg, CEO of Hospice of Santa Barbara “The need for sharing grief in ‘talk’ therapy and group settings is still very essential to our work but we strongly believe that other therapies can often assist in the process.”

Hospice of Santa Barbara “volunteers” its free professional counseling and care management services to children and adults every month who are experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness, or grieving the death of a loved one. Hospice of Santa Barbara is also present on local high school campuses to work with children and teens who are grieving the loss of a loved one. For more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara, including volunteer opportunities, call (805) 563-8820 or visit


Lauren Gunther/Chris Davis 805-687-3322

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