Do you ever feel worthless even though you know you are a worthwhile person?

Do you feel like you’re not good enough even though you might have awards, promotions, and degrees that prove that you are good enough? 

These are the types of questions and concerns Dr. Paula Nelson addresses in her private counseling practice. One of the therapies Dr. Paula utilizes to help her clients to heal old wounds that continue to interfere with their happiness today is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.

EMDR was initially developed and used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but is now also successfully used to treat anxiety, phobias, grief, addictions, and other types of traumas. Adverse life experiences are referred to as “small t’s.” 

You may not have been blown up in a minefield or molested, but a memory of something that was said or what happened to you becomes locked in the brain and seems to have a similar effect to that of a traumatic experience. 

Dr. Paula shares her own story of being forgotten to be picked up by her mother when she was in kindergarten. 

Her message to herself became “I am abandoned,” and throughout her life, when a boyfriend or a girlfriend or anyone, for that matter, seemed to be dismissive of her, this old memory was triggered and caused her to feel emotional pain. 

After being treated with EMDR, this no longer had that impact on her. “Disturbing events are stored in an isolated memory network. This prevents new learning from taking place. The old material keeps getting triggered over and over again. In another part of your brain is all of the information needed to resolve this. It’s just prevented from linking up to the old stuff. Once we start processing with EMDR, the two networks can link up. New information can come to mind and resolve the old problems.”  

Dr. Paula has over 25 years of experience as a psychotherapist and is certified in EMDR. She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Master Certified Addiction Professional, and a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. It is this combination of education and experience that enables Dr. Paula to address a variety of problems with EMDR.

Why use EMDR?

“It is super fast,” says Dr. Paula. “What would normally take a couple of years to accomplish with traditional talk therapy, I can achieve in months. I like seeing my clients make progress. My job isn’t to keep my clients in treatment with me. My job and my joy come from seeing my clients achieve their goals, experience fewer symptoms that interfere with their life, let go of the past, and create new and healthy lives and relationships.”  

What does an EMDR session look like?

Dr. Paula says “I start by taking a client’s history. We’ll talk about the process of EMDR and what to expect. Together we’ll develop a treatment plan aimed at achieving the client’s goals. We’ll identify possible targets for EMDR processing. An objective is a distressing memory and includes current situations that cause emotional distress.  We’ll also develop stress reduction techniques that the client can use during and in-between sessions.”

Dr. Paula relates, “We will start by asking you to focus on a target. Then I will ask you to follow my fingers with your eyes. After we do that for a while, we will stop and talk about anything that comes up. You won’t be able to hold the picture steady while eye movements are going on, so there’s no need to try. When we talk, you need to give me feedback on what is happening. Sometimes things will change and sometimes they won’t. There are no “supposed to’s” in this process, that’s the beauty of EMDR; Your brain does the work, you can’t do this wrong! We will do repetitions of the eye movements and the checking in. The emotional pain associated with the target will reduce and eventually will no longer be triggered by current day situations.”

Dr. Paula notes that if a client is unable to use eye movements, tones or taps can be substituted. She has worked with clients who have seizure disorders by utilizing tones and hand buzzers. All of these techniques induce the bilateral brain stimulation necessary to link up the old and new memory networks and reduce distress.

Couple’s Counseling

Dr. Paula uses the Gottman approach in her couple’s counseling. Drs. John and Julie Gottman have spent 40 years researching what makes a relationship work. Because all of the Gottmans’ exercises and principles are based on research, they offer real support and help for couples who want to build stronger, happier healthier relationships.  “They have developed principles and activities that help couples to become best friends again. The Gottmans have quite a several YouTubes available so you can learn about their philosophy on what makes a relationship work and see if it seems like a fit for you.”  Couples who come to Dr. Paula complete the Gottman Relationship Checkup. This is an online questionnaire developed by Dr. John Gottman. The report from the assessment is like having the results of your lab work completed prior to seeing your PCP. “It helps us to focus on where we need to do our work together,”  says Dr. Paula. She goes on to explain that this type of research-driven counseling is beneficial in the long-run to patients not only because it shows them where their relationship challenges are, but because it also saves them time in counseling and helps them work toward the relationship they want to create in a shorter amount of time.

Individual Counseling

Dr. Paula has years of experience helping people who suffer from anxiety and depression. If you prefer “talk therapy,”  Dr. Paula has created a safe, nonjudgmental environment in which you can tell your story.

Parenting Workshops 

Dr. Paula also helps couples who have made the painful decision to get a divorce. Dr. Paula offers the mandatory Florida Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course in her Dunedin office. With her help, you’ll learn how to work with your co-parent in a healthier way and reduce stress for both you and your child(ren).

Online Counseling

If you are stressed or depressed, just the thought of visiting a doctor’s office might be enough to prevent you from making an appointment. Dr. Paula Nelson says that shouldn’t be a concern, because she also offers online counseling. Dr. Paula says that she’s seen many patients benefit from online therapy, “Online therapy sessions allow patients to see me at their convenience. The site is HIPAA secure and very user-friendly.” In addition to the safe, secure web connection that allows Dr. Paula to talk face-to-face with her patients, there are additional therapy tools available such as an encrypted journal, email, and appointment scheduling.

If you are looking for a caring and nonjudgmental professional to support you through challenging times, contact Dr. Paula Nelson and learn how to create the life that you want.

Dr. Paula Nelson’s office is located at 1968 Bayshore Blvd. Suite #109 in Dunedin. For more information or to make an appointment, call 813-951-8889, email or visit