Category Archives: Articles written by me

Unlocking the Healing Power of EMDR: How This Groundbreaking Therapy is Helping Individuals Overcome Trauma


Written By Barry Herbach

I have been doing EMDR therapy for over 20 years, it’s the reason that I decided to dedicate my life to being a therapist. Before I learned how to do EMDR, I was frustrated with the limitations of talk therapy. EMDR allowed me to work much faster and see very quick results. Instead of patients taking years to get better it took months and sometimes weeks. I still see the benefits of talk therapy, but I always try to incorporate EMDR when I can.  

 What is EMDR 

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a type of therapy that has been gaining recognition in recent years. The therapy involves a series of guided eye movements while the patient recalls traumatic experiences, with the goal of reducing distress and reprocessing traumatic memories. EMDR can be conducted via zoom, making it a convenient and an effective option for those who prefer to receive therapy from the safety and comfort of their own homes. 

 Unprocessed trauma in the brain can lead to various mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Therefore, addressing traumatic experiences and processing them is crucial to prevent long-term negative effects on mental health. EMDR can be a helpful therapy for individuals struggling with trauma and its associated mental health conditions. EMDR aims to help individuals process and integrate traumatic memories, thereby reducing the distress associated with them and improving overall well-being. 

 Research has shown that EMDR can be an effective treatment for various psychological disorders, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and phobias. It has also been found to be effective for patients who were suffering from unresolved grief and guilt. EMDR can be helpful not only for individuals who have experienced a single traumatic event but also for those who have experienced complex trauma, such as childhood abuse or neglect. It can help address the various layers of trauma that may be present.  

Example of how Reprocessing works 

I have found that when people experience trauma, they often create faulty narratives about their issues. This is one reason talk therapy may have a poor success rate when dealing with trauma. Patients come to see therapists with the wrong narrative, and these are the issues that get addressed and get worked on. But what if the therapist and patient are working on the wrong issue? 

For example, I worked with a war veteran who had not had a good night’s sleep in over 20 years. He felt so unsafe he slept with a flashlight every night. He also suffered from depression. As we conducted EMDR therapy, he recalled two instances when he had almost faced death. While re-experiencing these events, it was as if my office lit up, and his depression seemed to vanish. He reexperienced the event with excitement and detail. He described hanging off a ship while avoiding gun fire. He was proud and excited how he escaped death. He described in detail and with excitement how he felt alive. What became clear was that he craved the feeling of danger, as it made him feel alive. Once we identified his real issue, we were able to work on finding alternative ways for him to feel alive. After just one EMDR session, he experienced his first night of restful sleep and no longer needed his flashlight. 

 For twenty years, this man had been focusing on feeling safe in therapy, only to become more depressed. By addressing the correct underlying issue, we were able to make a breakthrough and improve his well-being. 

 How Desensitization works 

During an EMDR session, the patient focused on a memory of a friend dying in his arms while following and focusing on an object with his eyes. As the session progressed, the perception of that traumatic memory began to change, and the unpleasant feelings and negative thinking associated with the memory faded. This result was a feeling of closure and a decrease in emotional intensity.  The war vet not only reprocessed the memory, but the memory no longer haunted him. He remembered the event, but he no longer felt the charge. 


EMDR is a psychotherapy technique that is an effective treatment for a range of psychological disorders. While the underlying mechanisms of the therapy are still being investigated, research has shown that EMDR helps patients process and integrate traumatic experiences more effectively, reducing distress and improving overall well-being. Despite some criticisms, EMDR remains a popular and effective therapeutic option for those struggling with trauma-related symptoms. 


Beyond the Self: The Transformative Power of a Higher Power in Psychotherapy

Written by Barry Herbach, LCSW

Americans are searching for a sense of purpose and belonging that they are lacking, which creates a void that is never truly filled. People may try to alleviate this feeling by purchasing new items or finding love, but these solutions are often temporary and can lead to financial difficulties, as evidenced by the current credit card crisis. Furthermore, the high rate of divorce suggests that these actions do not ultimately solve the underlying issue.

One solution to this problem is to develop a personal relationship with a higher power, referred to as G-d in this context. This relationship can help fill the void and provide a sense of belonging and homecoming. It is important to note that G-d can be understood in many ways, and the nature of this relationship will vary from person to person.

Overall, Americans are experiencing a deep need for purpose and belonging. While material possessions and relationships may provide temporary relief, a personal relationship with a higher power can offer a more lasting solution.

 “As Western medicine begins to incorporate a more holistic approach, we in mental health must recognize the necessity of identifying and honoring our patients’ strengths. Spirituality is what many people call upon when first encountering health concerns. Wanting to understand this relationship, major healthcare institutions–including those at Johns Hopkins and Harvard, as well as Sheppard Pratt–have begun to sponsor conferences on Spirituality and health”.

Martin, Marilyn. “Bridging the mental health/spirituality divide: appropriate spiritual interventions can aid therapists.” Behavioral Health Management, November 1, 2003

Psychotherapists should collaborate with their clients’ beliefs rather than compete with them. While I have a strong spiritual foundation due to experiences in my youth, it is not appropriate for therapists to impose religion or beliefs about G-d. Instead, it is essential to acknowledge and respect any pre-existing spiritual relationships that a client may have.

Spiritual faith is a significant aspect of the human experience and can enhance one’s life. It is the personal relationship with G-d that matters, not the specific religion or language used to communicate with G-d. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and other religions are all valid means of conversing with G-d. However, it is crucial to distinguish between the language and the relationship, as Jesus taught.

Therapists should collaborate with clients’ spiritual beliefs and not try to push any specific religion or belief system. Recognizing and respecting the personal relationship that clients may have with a higher power is essential, regardless of the specific language or religion used to communicate.

 “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Matthew 6:6-8

I believe that one’s relationship with G-d is akin to the relationships we have with other people in our lives. Just like human relationships, our relationship with G-d can be threatened when we have unmet expectations or feel abandoned in our time of need.

However, if you can address the obstacles that interfere with your faith and heal this relationship, you can allow G-d’s love to touch and heal you. This, in turn, can make it easier for you to like and love yourself. As a psychotherapist, I consider myself a relationship specialist, not a religious figure. My strong faith in G-d allows me to help others reconcile their differences with G-d using my skills and beliefs.

It’s important to note that I am not affiliated with any religion, and I view religion as merely the language one chooses to speak when communicating with G-d. My role is solely to assist in reconciling the relationship if that is what the client desires. Once the relationship is restored, it is up to the client and G-d, as they understand Him, to take it from there.

In summary, I do not intend to push any religious beliefs or practices onto my clients. Instead, I aim to nurture and facilitate the relationship they may already have with G-d, just like any other human relationship.

“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), Indian political, spiritual leader. Non-Violence in Peace and War, vol. 2, ch. 77 (1948).


The Perils of Dating a Narcissistic Victim

An article written by Barry Herbach, LCSW

 “A narcissist is very flattering, very seductive. They would make you feel as though their world is very special and if they allow you into it, you’ll be very special, too. They fulfill our fantasies,” she said.

We all want to believe we’re going to find this special connection, this special person. When a total stranger, usually attractive, comes along and says, you’re it, the one I’ve been looking for all my life,’ even though you have some reservations it’s easy to say this is what I’ve been looking for and you go for it.”

Narcissists, she said, often have elaborate and rehearsed presentations about their life.

 If your boundaries aren’t clear, you’re not sure of your center, it’s easy to become involved with a person who seems to have absolute certainty of who they are,” she said.”

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)  Wolf, Mark April 16, 2005

Many people I work with get involved with what I call “a narcissist victim.” You may be thinking how can a narcissist not think very highly of themselves? Well, it’s possible, but with a twist. First, most narcissists are extremely seductive as the quote states. What the victim does is make you feel like the special one who is the answer to all their needs. They build you up, they have open communication to the point it’s downright annoying. Because you are so special, you feel that they will never leave you and they really care. Women tend to get seduced more often than men by this type. I mean why wouldn’t someone want someone who worships her, is sensitive and loves to communicate. It’s a dream that can soon turn into a nightmare.

The following is an overview of a narcissist:

“1. All about me: It’s a character disorder in which a person tends to: have an inflated sense of self-importance; be preoccupied with thoughts of his or her great success, power, brilliance or beauty; believe that he or she is special, unique or better than everyone else; desire, expect or demand excessive admiration from others; have a sense of entitlement; exploit and take advantage of others; lack empathy and emotional connection to others; and be arrogant and act superior.

 2. Deep down: People with narcissistic personalities, in spite of their thoughts and behaviors, unconscious. They do not have ideas of great success, power, brilliance or beauty, but they can have all the resly feel inferior and inadequate. “

The Miami Herald. “5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER”, The Record (Bergen County, NJ), April 10, 2008

The “it’s all about you” is the sneaky part with these people. Remember it’s all about them, not you. So, as they get to know you and the fantasy goes away, they get angry. You are no longer feeding their inflated sense of self-importance. So now they remember every imagined slight. They are always telling you how you are not good enough at taking care of them. They are the victim, “you disappointed them”, “and you did not treat them with enough sensitivity”. They will always want to have talks and have open communication. If you listen carefully when you are in these discussions, you will realize all they are doing is telling how you weren’t good enough, because you didn’t make them feel good enough.

These talks can always seem to end with how it was your entire fault. You start to walk on eggshells because you don’t want to hurt or offend them. Or you just may not want to have another talk. Sometimes you will begin to feel ungrateful and make up in your head how they are still caring. In the end though the bottom line is this: they have gotten you to take care of them, while making you feel that they have taken care of you.

These slights and arguments are about how their narcissistic needs are not being met. If you are finding yourself defending a lot of behavior to a supersensitive mate who is angry for things that you don’t even know you did or even, make sense to you. Watch out, get out now.

This usually ends in one of two ways: You will get burnt out and afterwards, get out with a lot of drama. Or believe it or not they dump you, and never talk to you again. Suddenly you feel like you never existed to them. You will be asking yourself, “What happened?” The answer is simple. They realized that you will never fill their needs (no one can) and they moved on to a new sucker. They don’t acknowledge you because it was never about you, so now it’s the new love of their life. Or their new sucker.


Navigating the Emotional Rollercoaster of Coping with Pet Loss


Having recently losing lost my 14 year old cat, I found myself experiencing grief in a way that had its own personality. A friend of mine who recently lost his dog told me “grief is a bully”. This was the fourth time I had to say goodbye to a feline friend and it is still something I can hardly bare. Losing a pet can be a profound loss, and as a therapist who has experienced it firsthand, I wanted to share my thoughts on this topic and offer some guidance for those who may be going through a similar experience.

Our pets are often more than just animals. They are our companions, confidants, and members of the family. They offer us love, support, and a sense of purpose, and their loss can leave a significant hole in our lives. When my cat passed away, I felt a deep sense of sadness and emptiness. I had once again lost a friend who had been with me through many of life’s events, and it was difficult to imagine life without her.

One of the most challenging aspects of pet loss is the feeling of isolation that can come with it. Many people do not understand the depth of emotion that can accompany the loss of a pet, and it can be hard to find support from others who do not share our experiences. As a therapist, I understand the importance of having a safe space to process grief and loss. I encourage anyone who has lost a pet to seek out support from friends, family, or a therapist who can offer empathy and understanding.

When grieving the loss of a pet, it is essential to remember that there is no “right” way to grieve. Everyone experiences grief differently, and there is no timeline for when you should start to feel better. It is essential to allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up and to give yourself time to process the loss. Please do not feel shame if you feel intense grief.  All it means is, you honored your friend and you are caring person who can feel and appreciate love.

One of the most helpful things I did in my own grief process was to create a ritual to honor my cat’s memory. When I got  her ashes back in an urn and I placed her favorite toy next to it. For others it can be something as simple as lighting a candle or creating a small altar with pictures and mementos. Creating a ritual can provide a sense of closure and help us to honor the bond we shared with our pets.

Self-care is also crucial during the grieving process. Grief can be physically and emotionally exhausting, and it is essential to take care of ourselves during this difficult time. This may mean taking time off work, engaging in self-care activities like exercise or meditation, or seeking support from loved ones.

As a therapist, I often work with clients to help them navigate the stages of grief. The stages of grief, as outlined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While not everyone will experience all of these stages or in the same order, they can provide a framework for understanding the emotions that come with grief.

In the case of pet loss, it is common for people to experience feelings of guilt or regret. We may wonder if we did enough for our pets or if we missed signs that they were in pain or getting sick. It is important to remember that these feelings are normal and to be gentle with ourselves. Guilt sometimes is a way of trying to control a situation where we feel powerless. If it’s our fault we don’t have to feel powerless. It can be helpful to focus on the positive memories we shared with our pets and to remind ourselves that we did the best we could.

When a pet is no longer with us, it can be difficult to adjust to the changes in our daily lives. For example, we may miss the routine of feeding our pets or taking them for walks. It can be helpful to create new routines or to find ways to honor our pets’ memory in our daily lives. For example, we may volunteer at an animal shelter or make a donation in our pet’s name to a local animal rescue.

People who have not experienced the loss of a pet may not understand the depth of grief we are experiencing. They may offer well-intentioned but dismissive comments like “it was just a pet” or “you can always get another one.” It is important to remember that the grief we feel is valid and that our pets were much more than just animals to us. It can be helpful to seek out support from others who understand our experience, such as a pet loss support group or online community.

It is also important to remember that grief does not necessarily end with acceptance. While we may eventually come to accept the loss of our pet, the memory of them will always be a part of our lives. It is common to experience waves of grief even years after our pets have passed away, particularly during anniversaries or special occasions. This is normal and does not mean that we have not processed our grief effectively.

In some cases, the grief we experience after losing a pet may be complicated by other factors, such as trauma or unresolved grief from previous losses. In these cases, it can be helpful to seek out professional support from a therapist who specializes in grief and loss. EMDR a form of trauma therapy, can also help in dealing with complicated grief.

Again, it is important to remember that the grief we experience after losing a pet is a reflection of the deep love and connection we shared with them. Our pets bring so much joy and meaning to our lives, and their loss can be devastating. With time, support, and self-care, it is possible to find a sense of peace and healing after the loss of a beloved pet.

Is Your Girlfriend Struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder?

Beautiful woman with a sledgehammer breaks the huge heart into splinters and upset man falls on his knees. (Used clipping mask)

Dating a Woman with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Women who suffer from BPD (borderline personality disorder) can profoundly affect the quality of their significant others’ lives. One minute, everything is fine, and the next, you feel as if you are walking on eggshells. You never know how she will react to a situation or to you; will it be with love or anger? Being with her can make you feel helpless and unable to cope. At times, you may want to end it, but simultaneously, you may feel addicted to her. Usually, the relationship is an intense one.

It is estimated that more than six million people in the U.S. have borderline personality disorder, and these individuals greatly impact the lives of at least 30 million others. There is some controversy regarding how many women might have BPD compared to men. Older studies suggest a 75/25 ratio, while newer studies indicate a 53/47 split. The ratio of my caseload is about 75/25, which is why I am writing this article.

What is borderline personality disorder  (BPD)?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that affects an individual’s thoughts and emotions towards themselves and others, leading to difficulties in daily life. It is characterized by unstable and intense relationships, distorted self-perception, extreme emotions, and impulsive behaviors.

Individuals with BPD typically experience a strong fear of abandonment or instability, and they may find it challenging to be alone. However, their inappropriate anger, impulsive actions, and frequent mood swings can make it difficult for them to maintain meaningful and lasting relationships, despite their desire to do so.

The reason men often find themselves trapped in relationships with women who have borderline personality disorder is due to their ability to make their partners feel special and alive. Their intensity can be infectious, almost like a drug. At the beginning, you may want to be with her all the time, possibly even considering her your soulmate after a very short amount of time. Many times, the sexual chemistry is overwhelming. These women may also make you feel sorry for them, leading you to believe that only you can save them. Then, they might suddenly pull the rug out from under you.

You may feel on top of the world, having met the love of your life, only for her to abruptly push you away. When she pulls away, you may experience a painful withdrawal and yearn to have her back in your life. Then, just as suddenly, she comes back, and you feel like you are with that incredible person again. Unfortunately, the cycle usually starts all over again. This pattern can negatively impact your self-esteem, and you may find yourself obsessing about her constantly.

Here are some red flags that your girlfriend may have BPD (borderline personality Disorder.)

  • Dоеѕ she immediately ореn up tо you about abuse in her раѕt?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе trаѕh her еx-bоуfriеnd or ex-husband even bеfоrе уоu hardly get tоknow her? Dоеѕ ѕhе ѕееm tо go on and on аbоut her еx and how he ruined her life?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе have an intense bad relationship with her parents? Especially with her mother.
  • Is she always ѕауing bad things аbоut her раrеntѕ tо you? Does she blame her parents for all of her problems?
  • Does she seem to want tо move the rеlаtiоnѕhiр forward at a very quick pace? Maybe showing an intеrеѕt in moving in with you very early in the relationship?
  • Has she suffered or is currently suffering from an eating disorder?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе have temper tantrums in front of уоu and others?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе start horrible уеlling fights with уоu and when you try tо lеаvе she bеgѕ for уоu tо stay?
  • Has she bought you extravagant gifts early in the relationship?
  • Is she willing tо еxрlоrе risky ѕеxuаl behaviors?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе аbuѕе drugs or аlсоhоl?
  • Does ѕhе ѕееm very quick to fall in love with уоu and almost view уоu аѕ her knight in shining аrmоr?
  • Does she have a difficult time being friends with оthеr women?
  • Does she have a lot of associates she calls friends?
  • Is she always busy?
  • Dоеѕ it lооk like a lot of bad things kеер hарреning tо her? Thrown out by her boyfriend, trouble with finаnсеѕ, trouble maintaining a job, еtс?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе ѕееm to have very compelling excuses and rеаѕоning that explains why these bad things have happened tо her (example, her еx-bоуfriеnd made her run up her сrеdit саrd debts, and that’s why her credit is bad)

If she has one or even two of these traits, it’s probably alright. But if its more than that, it is probably something to look into.

You also may want to check out another list from Boomerang Love

How to Cope with the Woman with BPD

Dating a woman with borderline personality disorder is exhausting and соnfuѕing. This is because they lасk a ѕеnѕе of who thеу are. One minute she might think of hеrѕеlf as a rеаl реrѕоn and the next minute think of herself аѕ evil and flawed. Thoughts аbоut other реорlе fluctuate rарidlу, as well. She might want to trust others, but at the ѕаmе time, she dоеѕn’t think other реорlе are trustworthy. All of this confusion саn lеаvе her fееling empty, sad, and hollow inside.

The best way to cope is to try to understand what BPD is and how it is affecting you. Learn as much as you can about BPD, its symptoms, and what a sufferer of BPD goes through. Most importantly, take care of yourself first and do not take it personally. A qualified therapist can help you understand what is going on. They can also help you see if you can set boundaries and reduce the drama. A good therapist should be able to give you some strategies on how to try to change the dynamic of the relationship. Remember, you can only do so much since she has to work with you. If it appears it is not changing, do some deep soul searching and ask yourself, “Will I ever get what I need out of this relationship?”

As you can see, there is no winning with someone with BPD. It will always be an intense push-pull. One day you may feel you have it figured out, and the next day you are back where you started from. Will the drama ever stop? Unfortunately, many times these relationships cannot be salvaged.

Usually, these relationships will end in one of two ways. The most common is that she will just cut you off. Suddenly, she won’t talk to you; it’s as if the relationship never happened, almost as if you never existed. She may block your phone and make you feel like a bad person just because you want closure. Other times, if you try to end it, they will not let go and create drama. Sometimes they may even stalk you. Usually, it is not an easy ending.

Control is what keeps someone co-dependent

By Barry Herbach

This article will explain why you would stay in a relationship that continues to make you feel bad. But the main focus is addiction.

I thought it would be useful to discuss the concept of letting go. This is a process of acceptance. I think this is best illustrated in the serenity prayer.

 “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. “

 Co-dependence is one of the most misused words in psychotherapy. What the word means is that you are a partner in your significant others addiction. The addict is addicted to the drug and you are addicted to the addict. This is why you are co-dependent.

Let’s say you were in a relationship with an alcoholic, who also has been unfaithful many times. You can continue to hope and pray that he or she will wake up and stop this behavior. You can check their cell phone smell their breath. These are the things that you feel will help you control their being out of control. There are dozens of examples like this, I can give you.  But its denial!!

The bottom line in each of these examples, you are trying to control the uncontrollable.  It is only by realizing and accepting that you have no control in these situations that you can gain control.  If you finally allow your self to see that for right now, this is the reality. That there is nothing you can do to change another persons behavior. Then you will be free to move forward. This is the courage that is described in the serenity prayer. Having to change or do something else, requires courage and determination.  So, if we look at your relationship with the addict and that for the foreseeable future they are not changing; you can leave and free yourself.  You will now have control over your choices. You will see that you are powerless over the addicts choices. Then you can let go of your need to fix the addict and finally work on fixing fix you.

This is starting the first step of AA/Al-anon, you are accepting you are powerless over this. You will never get what you want as long as your partner is an addict. You are destroying your life as they are theres. You will only get sicker as they will, l if they try to become control users.

The irony is both of you are trying to control the uncontrollable. It is a disease of control. The answer is let go of the illusion that you are in control. You blame the addict for no letting  go of the drug, yet you won’t let go of the addict. Explain to me the difference. Both of you have the same choice, LET GO OF CONTROL.

There is nothing more freeing and powerful as saying, “I am leaving.” When you do this. There is nothing the person or situation can do to stop you or control you. Once you let go of trying to control something. You are finally in control.

Why Couples Therapy?

Why Couples Therapy?

In order for a relationship to succeed you need to work on it every day. Sometimes communication problems develop which can make this hard. This can be caused by past resentments, unmet expectations, mistakes made by one or both people in the relationship. My role as a couples therapist is to repair the communication and get both partners to work together for the relationship instead of against each other.

How it works

In couples therapy, the focus of treatment isn’t just one person, it is the couple itself. The therapy is brief, solution-focused and specific, with attainable therapeutic goals. In the first session the issues are explored and then goals are set. These goals are worked on and monitored as we go forward. In a short amount of time sessions are usually moved to every other week to allow you to learn work out conflicts and issues with less input from me.

As we progress my office will become a safe haven, where problems can be discussed without fear of pain, judgment or retribution. In my office you will learn a better way to express your needs and hurts with your partner. By using specific interventions and techniques, hurtful and destructive patterns in the relationship are changed to create a stronger, more open and meaningful relationship.

Situations where couples therapy can be helpful:

-Communication is breaking down
-There is diminished sexual desire and activity level
-You find that you are replaying old arguments and resurrecting old hurts
-You are finding yourself feeling resentment and contempt for your mate most of the time
-One or both of you are having an affair
-Money seems to be a source of conflict frequently You feel that you are being suffocated by the relationship
-It feels easier to avoid talking about issues
-You seem to be fighting about your children all the time
-Infertility issues are tearing the relationship apart You are worried he/she doesn’t care about you anymore
-You are finding yourself worrying that he/she is cheating

The Results

In couples therapy you will learn to identify negative patterns that are getting in the way of the relationship and friendship you once felt. We will work on how the two of you can stop blaming each other so you can work through your problems without creating new hurts and resentments. You will learn how recognize and then to avoid power struggles. I will demonstrate and model healthy ways to communicate and relate to each other, which will strengthen the quality of your relationship