What is EMDR?!?

EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing – Therapy is an evidence-based protocol for addressing a number of mental health issues, including:

Complex Trauma & cPTSD

Single-incident Trauma

Grief & Loss

Socio-political Trauma: racism, misogyny, ableism, queer/transphobia, identity discrimination, micro-aggressions, etc



Sleep Disturbance



Family Relationships

Workplace Stressors

Goals and Habits

Personal & Professional Performance

EMDR therapy was developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD in 1989 and has been a widely researched, affirmed, and evidence-based psychotherapy practice since.  The International Association of EMDR defines this therapy as,

“Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based psychotherapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition, successful outcomes are well-documented in the literature for EMDR treatment of other psychiatric disorders, mental health problems, and somatic symptoms. The model on which EMDR is based, Adaptive Information Processing (AIP), posits that much of psychopathology is due to the maladaptive encoding of and/or incomplete processing of traumatic or disturbing adverse life experiences. This impairs the client’s ability to integrate these experiences in an adaptive manner. The eightphase, three-pronged process of EMDR facilitates the resumption of normal information processing and integration. This treatment approach, which targets past experience, current triggers, and future potential challenges, results in the alleviation of presenting symptoms, a decrease or elimination of distress from the disturbing memory, improved view of the
self, relief from bodily disturbance, and resolution of present and future anticipated triggers.” ~ EMDRIA.org

I like to think of EMDR as harnessing the brain’s and body’s natural system for healing itself through the processing of information (thoughts, memories, images, beliefs).  Through bilateral stimulation (eye movements or hand-held pulsers [think cell phone vibration]), an EMDR therapist guides a client through processing one target (incident, event, memory, troubling issue) at a time until that target no longer presents any disturbance (emotional or physical) to the client.  As a clinician who has used various interventions and therapy approaches to address trauma over the past 10+ years I have been in practice, I find EMDR to be one of the most efficient and thorough methods for addressing the emotional and physical disturbances present with trauma, grief, depression, anxiety, and loss.  Talk therapy is an important companion along side EMDR in order to lay a foundation of rapport between therapist and client, to address the restoration of person/identity, to cultivate resilience practices, and to learn and understand interpersonal dynamics and behavior patterns.

To learn more, or schedule an intake session, please contact Jennifer at 210-382-4155 or jennifer@aspacetothrive.com


  • How long is an EMDR session?
    • I like to schedule 90 minutes to 2 hours per EMDR session so we have enough time for the process, debriefing, and containment
  • How much does an EMDR session cost?
    • There is no additional fee for EMDR therapy.  The same fees apply per therapy hour: 90min session is $200; 2 hour session is $270
  • How do I care for myself after an EMDR session?
    • We will talk about how to journal or log the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and triggers that come up for you after an EMDR session so you have a place to process between sessions
    • I always recommend extra nurturing self-care practices after session:
      • Drink plenty of water
      • Take a nap if needed
      • Eat a meal that includes protein and fresh produce
      • Be kind to yourself
      • Be gentle with your schedule/demands
  • When should I schedule an EMDR session?
    • When and where possible, I encourage clients to schedule EMDR sessions toward the end of the day, and/or end of the week so you have some down-time to rest
    • Some people have no problem going back to work or class after an EMDR session, some people prefer to not have to be “on” after a session
    • You know yourself best and you will also learn what works and what doesn’t after your first few sessions
  • What should I wear to an EMDR session?
    • There is no special recommendation for how to dress for EMDR session.  I’m always a big fan of comfort-wear!  My clients are always free to kick off shoes and curl up on the couch, or prop feet up on the ottoman…my office is a space to get/be comfortable.
  • How many sessions of EMDR do I need?
    • While there is no “one-size-fits-all” prescription for therapy sessions, many clients find they can move through their targets in 4-8 EMDR sessions.  It all depends on you, your goals, and your needs.
    • Once targets are cleared, a client may want to continue with talk therapy to address other areas such as:
      • communication
      • intimacy and connection
      • restoration of self
      • interpersonal relationships
      • coping and resiliency maintenance
  • I have other questions that weren’t addressed here.
    • I’d be happy to talk with you for a free 20 minute consultation to answer any questions and to see if EMDR therapy may be a useful process for you in your healing and recovery journey.  To set up a consultation appointment click here, or call Jennifer at 210-382-4155 or email her at: jennifer@aspacetothrive.com.

Upcoming Healing Support Circle Sessions 2018

A Space to Thrive offers 2 sessions of our 12-week Healing Support Circle (HSC) each year.  Session I is offered in the Spring (January-March) and Session II is offered in the Fall (September – November).  Click here to register in FULL or to schedule a HSC INITIAL INTAKE only.  This circle is open to women, femme, and nonbinary individuals.

HSC Fall 2018

Saturdays from 10:30am-12:30pm on the following dates*
September: 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
October: 6, 13, 20, 27
November: 3, 10, 17

HSC Spring 2019

Saturdays from 10:30am-12:30pm on the following dates*
January: 12, 19, 26
February: 2, 29, 16, 23
March: 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

Fees for Healing Support Circle

  • $550.00 if paid in full before the session begins and includes an 80min individual intake assessment session; the book “Healing from Hidden Abuse,”; a journal; light refreshments at each circle; and all the creative materials used throughout the session.
  • $65 for initial intake session / $50/week pay-as-you-go fee option and includes an 80min individual intake assessment session; the book “Healing from Hidden Abuse,”; a journal; light refreshments at each circle; and all the creative materials used throughout the session.  Clients who opt for this fee plan are still responsible to pay for each of the 12 weeks in the session whether or not you attend circle that week. 

Click here to register in FULL or to schedule a HSC INITIAL INTAKE only.

*Dates are subject to change based on therapist’s schedule; clients will be notified in advance of schedule changes and a make-up session will be scheduled.  Changes may occur due to personal or professional time away from the office.

Each session runs weekly for 12-weeks and generally meets on Saturdays from 10:30am – 12:30pm.  **If there is enough of an interest (minimum 4 clients) for a weekly evening group, one will be made available.  If you are not free on Saturdays but would like to participate, please contact Jennifer at: jennifer@aspacetothrive.com or 210-382-4155.**

On Making Space

Letting go doesn’t leave me empty, it leaves me open.

19 years ago, I was living in a housing unit that burned down and I lost all my material possessions from that time and a good chunk of memories from my life before.  Six months later, I buried three of my foster kiddos who were killed in a car accident while skipping school and out joy-riding.  I was reeling from the losses and while of course the loss of life far outweighs the loss of stuff…there’s always material stuff the Red Cross voucher can never replace.

Without knowing it, I cultivated a habit of holding on…to things, to people, to memories…long after it was healthy for me.  Loss can do that, inspire us to hold tight, as though we have any control over not losing anything precious ever again.

I’ve learned that I can gather things I hold dear close to me, even things that mean very little, in the hopes of warding off loss.  But I can’t control that.  I’ve been learning to hold space for that truth.  And learning to let go.

As I stand in my home today surrounded by piles of things I’m sorting through to take to the thrift store, or to the trash, a flood of feelings washes over me.  There is lingering grief for what never was; grief over what will never be again; grief for the self I was and am no longer.

And even in the midst of the grief and the challenge it is to let some things go, I also feel relief.  The burden of dragging all this stuff around with me for almost two decades as I moved back and forth across the country, it’s wearing on me.  I’m tired of schlepping around all this weight.

And I want to make space to welcome new possibilities into my life. 

So, this is a huge step in my trauma recovery and wellness maintenance.  I am grateful to arrive at and celebrate the moments of movement in the direction of thriving.  I share this with you for several reasons:

  1. Therapists are humans who have things to heal and recover from too.  I’m walking this path, doing this work too;
  2. If you struggle with these things, you’re not alone;
  3. If clutter and grief and trauma and depression and anxiety are all piling up in your life, let’s have a conversation. We can sort through it together.  Let’s face the heap together.


Contact Jennifer at: 210-382-4155 or jennifer@aspacetothrive.com

[taking up space]

don’t be so humble

with your whispering ways
and sotto vocce
give sound to your story
give volume to your voice
the world cannot learn
all you have to teach
when you remain quiet

don’t be so humble

shrinking, shriveling
wilting into corners and
shadow sidelines
there is ample room
for the breadth
and depths
of the whole of you

don’t be so humble

with your: “it was nothings”
and deflected compliments
we need the light
that adorns you
when you own your own shine

don’t be so humble

presenting your ideas as questions
diminishing your innovations
with “justs” and “I’m not sures”
the lack of others’ vision
does not dim your insight
speak up!

don’t be so humble

your place
is wherever gives you life
nourishes joy
satisfies your purpose
your place is rooted deep
stand grounded
unmoved by thundering “shoulds”

don’t be so humble

“survivors are strong as hell”
you have stared down the devil itself
and lived to poem about it
you have endured loss
you have overcome horrors
you have cheated the despair that
threatens daily to consume you

don’t be so humble

feeling guilty for laughing
for savoring the voluptuous harvest
of your aching labors
for receiving dancing goodness
and leaping life
after decades of death

don’t be so humble

your hunching small
serves no one
breathe wide into the expanse
of your spectacular being
let your resilient self-love stretch
to the far reaches of your
fingertips open
face upturned
in the brilliance of your becoming


~j. alumbaugh

Trauma, Loss, and Clutter

Studies show that there’s a strong link between clutter (lots and lots of it) in the home and experiences of profound loss and/or trauma.  This morning my trunk is loaded with the first pile (of many) of items for the thrift store. I also filled a large city trash bin last night.

It may seem insignificant to many, but to me, this is a photo of hope. A vital sign of healing.  When you get the right combo of therapist, medicine, creative process, and resilience; and you put in the time and the tears and the work…coming back from the dead sometimes looks like 3 weeks solid of doing dishes and putting them away.

SURVIVOR LOVE NOTE: If you have overwhelming clutter in your home space, you are not alone. You are not a failure. It’s a scar from what happened to you. THERE IS HOPE!  As you address the trauma in therapy, you will begin to address the clutter in time. *Don’t start with the clutter* it will only paralyze you. The shame is real and deep, and, it isn’t yours to keep.

~coming back from the dead doesn’t happen all at once


Jennifer Alumbaugh, LMFT is the owner and lead therapist at A Space to Thrive.  As a survivor of complex trauma she believes in the value of her transparency around her own healing, recovery, and thriving maintenance process.  We’re all human–yes! even your therapists.  Just because we have information and resources on healing and recovery does not inoculate us against the wounds of trauma, abuse, and the actions of others.  She shares her #TransparentTherapist blogs in an effort to destigmatize mental health issues, trauma recovery, and being in a perpetual process of becoming.  Jennifer believes that her own continued therapy and wellness maintenance are a matter of ethical responsibility to her clients and her community–it is a kind of accountability for her own self-compassion and self-care practices.