About Kristina's Practice, EMDR

Following a Leader: Saying Goodbye to Francine Shapiro


When the groundbreaking psychologist who created EMDR therapy left us in June, she left behind not only a revolutionary method of psychotherapy, but the ongoing inspiration to give our best through research and dedication.

It was like any other Tuesday. I was on my lunch break, in between clients, standing in a café waiting to pick up my order. Scrolling through email on my phone, one particular subject line caught my eye: “Mourning Francine Shapiro.”

She can’t have passed away, I thought.

Then as I opened the email my heart sank further. I couldn’t believe I was reading of Francine Shapiro’s passing. As a pioneer in the field of mental health through the creation of her groundbreaking EMDR therapy, this insightful, intelligent, forward-thinking woman has made an impact, to better the lives of so many, including mine.

First Encounter

My first encounter with Francine took place years ago, back when I’d only heard bits and pieces about what EMDR therapy is and does during my exposure to several different treatment orientations. Among them, “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing” barely registered on my radar. In fact, I recall rolling my eyes during an EMDR presentation as a student.

That changed a few years later. After grad school, I attended the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference. I was interested in learning about a particular approach, but after sitting disappointedly through a weak presentation I decided to go to Francine Shapiro’s just down the hall. I peeked through the door, seats were available, and I thought, “Why not?”

As Francine went through various diagnoses throughout the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, presenting the quality of research I’d missed during the lecture I’d just left, I was struck by how genuine she was. She was straightforward, practical and not at all about ego. I immediately got the impression she didn’t believe she was better than anyone else (in contrast to many of her peers), she didn’t have to; her confidence was borne by fact. She knew the proof of her findings was in the pudding.

Now, years later, I know not only how EMDR works, but how it’s worked for me. Like many, I’ve been through some *stuff*. I was someone who dealt with long-standing trauma since the age of five. And while I’d experienced a wide range of therapies, some more helpful than others, nothing seemed as promising as what Francine Shapiro and her revolutionary new approach presented. I wondered, “Can EMDR help me?”

Doing the work

I went to the EMDRIA database, to find out what the therapy’s international association could offer (which is a lot). I found an EMDR therapist near me and decided to go for sessions. I’d been dealing with a romantic breakup at the time, and not very well.

The therapist told me that most people can get past a breakup in three reprocessing sessions. Together, we did one reprocessing session per month and at the end of three months, I actually felt “over” the breakup. Grateful as I was, I still had my doubts: Maybe I didn’t really love the guy…maybe three months was all I needed to grieve…

I wasn’t dissuaded, but I wasn’t quite convinced, either, that this was a top-tier approach to therapy. And even though I knew I had a lot of underlying trauma, I still didn’t feel ready to do the work. I met with the therapist for three more months when I was at a coffee shop one day and something triggered me. The PTSD which had dogged me for years suddenly resurfaced.

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My symptoms hadn’t been present for a while, but my unconscious was sending me a gift…an OPPORTUNITY for genuine healing and I knew this was a make-or-break moment. I had enough presence of mind to know that this was the time to make a choice: I took a leap of faith with my own EMDR therapist and began working on bigger, scarier and deeper issues, and within six months, we eradicated my symptoms of PTSD.

I’m now a firm believer in what EMDR does.

Life, livelihood and leadership

It wasn’t long before I decided this was something I wanted to specialize in; after experiencing how EMDR changed my life, I had to go about learning how EMDR therapy works. And today, I’m an EMDR therapist, one of 6,500 certified through EMDRIA. I know, from first-hand experience, how EMDR sessions can improve one’s quality of living, thinking, coping, performance and long-term achievement. I’ve seen it in myself and I see it in my clients.

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Worldwide, the ‘pudding’ is rich: studies have shown that three 90-minute EMDR sessions will yield 85%-100% remission of single-trauma PTSD. With 12 or more sessions, combat veterans and other multiple trauma victims experience similar success. And because EMDR therapy does not rely on detailed, sometimes painful recollections, it has proven effective in treating patients of all ages, from all walks of life.

It all started with Francine Shapiro.

It’s hard to articulate the deep sadness I felt at hearing of her loss, a grief shared by those who knew her, were mentored by her, benefited from her work. She was a true leader who inspired so many to find their rightful place in the world, a goal that might have at one time seemed out of reach, obscured as it was by confusion and trauma.

I’ve always honored the responsibility of my work, but Francine’s passing adds another dimension to this sense of duty. In her absence, others must lead.

In her own words, Dr. Shapiro urged the EMDR community to keep moving forward:

“I want to repeat the same thing I have said for years. There is so much we have done, but so much to do. Anyone who cares to, can open the treatment room doors in a way that can really make an impact. Documenting your outcomes and sharing it is ‘research.’ Research is not just about proving to others. It is a way to guide each one of us to establish the best practices. It is about staying on the right road.”

For Francine, the trajectory was clear: the ‘right road’ is the true course to helping others. And I hope to honor Francine’s work by finding my own way to expand upon it to better the world.

Thank you Francine for your contribution and your legacy. It is truly a privilege to have met you and to grow and learn in the astonishing, life-changing gift you left us.

About Your Santa Clarita Therapist

Santa Clarita therapist, Valencia therapist, emdr therapist, trauma therapist, trauma specialist, Santa Clarita PTSD therapist, therapist for women, therapist specializing in anxiety, therapist specializing in depression, suicidal thoughtsKristina de Bree is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of California and an EMDRIA certified Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist with a private practice in Valencia. She focuses on helping individuals build, mend and develop healthy relationships and authentic connections with others and with themselves, and as a Valencia EMDR therapist, she is specially qualified to treat trauma, promote performance enhancement and address mental health concerns related to medical illness, right here in Santa Clarita. Kristina believes that the core of every working relationship should be built on trust, authenticity and quality. She brings a deep value and care for the patient experience, believing that change is made through relationships that are trusting, caring and safe.

About Kristina's Practice, Stress

We’re Only Human: Getting a Handle on Managing Holiday Stress

“Fourteen people,” said my mom. Wait. Fourteen people?

My family is not used to hosting that many people for Thanksgiving, and as soon as she said the number I noticed a definite jump in my heart rate. But why was it so stressful?

Sharing time with family and friends (and having fourteen to share it with) is a gift—yet I dreaded the preparation, the cleanup, being pressed for time with clients booked in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, the prospect of limited energy when the holidays seem to demand it—in short, I was stressed. Sure, I’m a therapist, but like everyone else, I’m a human being and I struggle with managing holiday stress.

I’m also not alone, which means you aren’t, either.
Stress is a common problem during the holidays.

While we’d like to enjoy winter’s brighter traditions, from peppermint lattes and twinkly lights to some of the year’s best sales, it’s easy to get sidelined by the season’s many trials. As the calendar comes to a close, challenges like deadlines, loneliness, unstable finances and the obligation to spend time with difficult relatives can take up residence in the most cheerful of minds, along with a grey, mournful grief for the life we wish we had, or perhaps one we have no longer.

And for comfort, many of us human beings resort to overeating, extra alcohol, avoidance, even procrastination—coping mechanisms that might suffice in moderation, but can handily work against us. Our excesses can lead to more anxiety, despair and depression.

So what can we do when we’re faced with higher-than-normal stress levels, and our current methods of coping aren’t proving as effective as we’d like to them to be? Before we can deal with stress in a positive way, we need to know what it is, and how it impacts our bodies.

Know what’s happening

Stress begins with a “stress trigger”—anything that activates the sympathetic nervous system (think “S for stress”), also known as the “fight or flight” response of the body. The stress response is recognizable and for some, familiar: a noticeable shift in breathing, increased heart rate, feeling sweaty and ready for some kind of action. In the face of actual threat, the stress response is crucial whether we’re being chased by a bear, tackling a pile of bills or enduring an annoying coworker.

Sometimes, though, stress triggers activate our stress response to a “perceived” threat rather than an actual threat, and we act out of “fight or flight,” unintentionally creating more conflict.

Here’s a classic example: All day long, your stress response has been triggered with deadlines, demands and difficult people. When you finally get home, your sympathetic nervous system has been active for quite a while and is still “on,” so when a loved one innocently asks, “How was your day?” you’re likely to snap with “It’s fine!” or “Can’t I have just one minute to myself?” Your response appears unreasonable, unwarranted, and by the time you realize you were too harsh, a fresh emotional wound has already been created.

The holidays in particular present us with a lot of triggers. Not all of them are negative (spending time with fourteen loved ones), many of them are small (washing dishes), but they can pile up to cast a looming, daunting shadow. Sometimes they’re substantial. It’s a time when the loss of loved ones seems especially vivid, and the latter part of this year in particular has seen tragedies like the Woolsey Fire and the Thousand Oaks shooting, and that’s in Southern California alone.

It can be extraordinarily difficult to process these triggers, big and small, all at once and during a fast-paced holiday season. Even those of us with specialized training on how the brain and body respond to stress aren’t immune to it. We do, however, have tools to deal with it.

Flipping the switch

Now that we understand how our stress response is engaged, we can find a solution in doing the opposite. We need to switch the stress response off and switch our parasympathetic nervous system (think “P for peace”) into action—in other words, switch on the peaceful and restful response.

The next time you’re aware that your stress response has been engaged, here are eight simple ways you can turn on your peaceful and restful response:

1) Count backwards from 100, in 7’s, 3’s or 2’s.
2) Find the closest written words and read them backwards.
3) Listen to your favorite music.
4) Take seven slow deep breaths, with a seven-second inhale, a seven-second hold and seven-second exhale.
5) Count ten things in the room.
6) Notice five different sounds in the room
7) Step away if you are able. Take frequent breaks.
8) Go for a walk.

Deeper diving

I’ve found these methods of dealing with stress very helpful, and as the holidays roll around with the added stress of shopping, planning and socializing, you might gain peace of mind from them, too. But know that this is not an exhaustive list.

I could write a thousand different blogs on stress (and there are more to follow) to complement the countless resources available that describe an endless variety of coping mechanisms. It’s a rich and relatable subject that begs a number of approaches. What’s important is finding a way of dealing with stress that feels right to you.

But if you’re constantly overwhelmed, if you repeatedly find yourself in states of fight, flight or freeze, if your trigger is something big like having to face an assaulter in a social situation, if you have a trauma-related disorder or other impactful diagnosis, advice from a blog is not going to help. In cases like these, I urge you to seek professional consultation.

Facing reality is key to coping with stress. And while the season is magical with sweet escapes and storybook endings, it’s important to remember that we don’t live in a Hallmark fantasy. Bumping into an old beau or standing under the mistletoe won’t make our problems disappear. Life is full of obstacles, and it serves us humans to keep a toolbox equipped to deal with them.

Vigilance, diligence, and appropriate care are the most effective routes through stress—through the holidays and beyond!

About Your Santa Clarita Therapist

Santa Clarita therapist, Valencia therapist, emdr therapist, trauma therapist, trauma specialist, Santa Clarita teen therapist, therapist for kids, therapist specializing in anxiety, therapist specializing in depression, suicidal thoughtsKristina de Bree is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of California and an EMDRIA certified Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist with a private practice in Valencia. She focuses on helping individuals build, mend and develop healthy relationships and authentic connections with others and with themselves, and as a Valencia EMDR therapist, she is specially qualified to treat trauma, sexual abuse, and medical illness, right here in Santa Clarita. Kristina believes that the core of every working relationship should be built on trust, authenticity and quality. She brings a deep value and care for the patient experience, believing that change is made through relationships that are trusting, caring and safe.

Santa Clarita therapist, Valencia therapist, emdr therapist, trauma therapist, trauma specialist, Santa Clarita teen therapist, therapist for kids, therapist specializing in anxiety, therapist specializing in depression, what type of mental health professional is right for you
About Kristina's Practice

What Type Of Mental Health Professional Is Right For You?

Ever wondered what type of mental health professional is right for you? This simple guide explains the differences among psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage and family therapists (LMFT), counselors, social workers and more. 

Santa Clarita therapist, Valencia therapist, emdr therapist, trauma therapist, trauma specialist, Santa Clarita teen therapist, therapist for kids, therapist specializing in anxiety, therapist specializing in depression, what type of mental health professional is right for you

Some of the most common questions I get are: How do you know what type of mental health professional is right for you? How are you different than a psychologist or a counselor or an LCSW?

And I understand why. Navigating all the different titles and licenses can be very confusing for someone who is new to therapy — especially when you have specific needs like medication management or psychological testing.

That’s why I created this quick guide, to help you figure out what type of mental professional is right for you. First, let’s cover the basics.

The Basics

The mental health community is generally broken down into three main categories:

  1. Professionals who can prescribe medication, such as psychiatrists and general practitioners
  2. Professionals who specialize in assessment, such as psychologists 
  3. All other professionals, who cannot prescribe medication but instead provide specialized types of therapy

Once you’ve decided whether or not you need medication management, you can dive into the specifics. For example, different mental health professionals have different specialties (i.e. relationships, case management, etc.), as well as sub-specialties (i.e. EMDR, play therapy, art therapy, etc.). Just as you wouldn’t see a foot doctor for a heart problem, it’s important to know which type of mental health professional is best for your needs.  

So let’s take a look at each type of mental health professional to see how they differ.

Psychiatrist

Santa Clarita therapist, Valencia therapist, emdr therapist, trauma therapist, trauma specialist, Santa Clarita teen therapist, therapist for kids, therapist specializing in anxiety, therapist specializing in depression, what type of mental health professional is right for you

A psychiatrist is a licensed medical doctor who specializes in medication management. They can diagnose, prescribe medication and monitor medication. Though they are licensed to provide therapy, some psychiatrists do and some don’t. Those who don’t provide therapy generally focus on medication management.

  • Education/License: Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), State license
  • Specialty: Medication management, Diagnosis of mental and emotional illnesses
  • A Good Fit: If you want to talk to a mental health professional about medication

Psychologist

Santa Clarita therapist, Valencia therapist, emdr therapist, trauma therapist, trauma specialist, Santa Clarita teen therapist, therapist for kids, therapist specializing in anxiety, therapist specializing in depression, what type of mental health professional is right for you

A psychologist specializes in neuropsychological testing and evaluation. Like psychiatrists, some psychologists offer therapy while others don’t. Psychologists are most often found in a school setting or a clinical setting.

  • Education/License: Advanced degree in psychology, State license  
  • Specialty: Testing and evaluations
  • A Good Fit: If you need services from a school or institution that requires formal evaluation

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT)

Santa Clarita therapist, Valencia therapist, emdr therapist, trauma therapist, trauma specialist, Santa Clarita teen therapist, therapist for kids, therapist specializing in anxiety, therapist specializing in depression, what type of mental health professional is right for youA Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) works with individuals, couples or groups and generally focuses on relationships. An LMFT is required to have experience with a wide array of relationship dynamics.

  • Education/License: Advanced degree in psychology, Special education and training, State license  
  • Specialty: Relationship-based therapy
  • A Good Fit: If you’re looking for couples therapy, family therapy or to improve your relationship with yourself

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Santa Clarita therapist, Valencia therapist, emdr therapist, trauma therapist, trauma specialist, Santa Clarita teen therapist, therapist for kids, therapist specializing in anxiety, therapist specializing in depression, what type of mental health professional is right for youUsually found in a hospital setting, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) is trained to make diagnoses, provide individual and group therapy, and provide case management and advocacy.

  • Education/License: Advanced degree in social work, State license  
  • Specialty: Case management and advocacy
  • A Good Fit: If you’re experiencing special life circumstances, such as adopting a child or being diagnosed with a terminal illness

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

Santa Clarita therapist, Valencia therapist, emdr therapist, trauma therapist, trauma specialist, Santa Clarita teen therapist, therapist for kids, therapist specializing in anxiety, therapist specializing in depression, what type of mental health professional is right for youA Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) works with individuals, couples or groups and is trained to provide counseling.

  • Education/License: Advanced degree in psychology, State license  
  • Specialty: Outpatient therapy
  • A Good Fit: If you need help coping with a specific event or life circumstance

Other Professionals & Specialties

It’s important to remember that this isn’t a comprehensive list. Nurses and nurse practitioners, for example, can specialize in mental health, and some professionals are even more specialized, such as certified alcohol and drug abuse counselors or pastoral counselors. Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), for example, is another specialty that is recommended for the treatment of trauma.

What Type Of Mental Health Professional Is Right For You?

With so many options, how do you choose? Well if you need medication or testing and evaluation, then that narrows your search. If your primary need is therapy or counseling, however, you have a little more flexibility.

Once you find the type of mental health professional who checks all your boxes, the most important thing is to find someone you connect with. Over and over again, research has shown the therapeutic relationship is more important than the area of interest or specialty. In fact, it’s the number one factor that drives quality progress for the patient.

This is especially important for parents to remember when finding the best match for their child. Your child’s therapist needs to be someone who they can trust, as well.

If it doesn’t work out the first time, it’s very important to try again with another therapist or mental health professional. There is someone out there for you, especially with so many options in today’s mental health community.

What Type Of Therapist Am I?

I am an LMFT who specializes in EMDR, trauma, kids and teen therapy, and medical illness. I completed my advanced degree in psychology, as well as 3,000 hours of supervised practice, to complete my licensure. Because of my personal experience with EMDR, I then decided to complete an additional certification to specialize in EMDR.

So what does all this mean? Put simply, I specialize in helping people process traumatic memories and alleviate various symptoms that can stem from trauma — especially when other forms of therapy don’t work.

Hopefully, after reading through this guide, you can now confidently answer the question: “What type of mental health professional is right for you?”

About Your Santa Clarita Therapist

Santa Clarita therapist, Valencia therapist, emdr therapist, trauma therapist, trauma specialist, Santa Clarita teen therapist, therapist for kids, therapist specializing in anxiety, therapist specializing in depression, suicidal thoughtsWondering what type of mental health professional is right for you? Kristina de Bree is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of California and an EMDRIA certified Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist with a private practice in Valencia. She focuses on helping individuals build, mend and develop healthy relationships and authentic connections with others and with themselves, and as a Valencia EMDR therapist, she is specially qualified to treat trauma, kids and teens, performance enhancement and medical illness, right here in Santa Clarita. Kristina believes that the core of every working relationship should be built on trust, authenticity and quality. She brings a deep value and care for the patient experience, believing that change is made through relationships that are trusting, caring and safe.