Organizing Chaos: EMDR as an Evidenced-Based Behavioral Health Treatment for Public Safety Professionals


By Dr. Robert J. Cipriano Jr., Psy.D., ABPP

Advisory Board Member for Cordico

EMDR Therapy can change negative hard-wired neuronal connections by connecting the traumatic memory with new information, and moving the memory from “old” memory to “working” memory.  The distressing thoughts and emotions can be transformed with new positive thoughts and emotions; collective awareness allows static sensations in the body to resolve through bilateral sensory movements via hearing, eye movements, and/or hand contact.

Disturbing events can be stored in a person’s memory in an isolated memory network for a number of years.  Such memories can be referred to as “old material/information” that becomes familiar and keeps getting triggered over and over again.  In another part of that same person’s mind most of the information that is needed to resolve such disturbing events is not connected or linked up.  Same mind, but not connected.  EMDR- Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing will help the two networks link up and become connected.   New information can enter that person’s mind and resolve the “old material.”  As the person processes that information, old events, pictures, sensations or emotions may arise.  The “old” information/ “material” can become “scenery,” but it does not have to “pull” the person in or grab hold of the person and weigh them down, emotionally as it once did.   EMDR connects and corrects the old information and material that once “weighed” the person down by allowing the new information to sort it out, appropriately.   (Andrew Dobo, Psy.D., 2018)

Our brains are a very natural healing mechanism very much like our bodies as we want to heal when faced with an injury.   EMDR is helpful for adverse life experiences, not just trauma.  EMDR therapy is similar to what happens during REM sleep when we sleep and our brains sort things through and let’s go of things that we don’t need.  It’s a very similar mechanism.

“EMDR can help us go back to when the blueprint was laid down for a negative belief system and change that for the better.”   -Dalene Forester Thacker, PhD- EMDR therapist

Our Heroes who are selfless in their due diligence for the safety and security of our communities across our great country can benefit from behavioral health professionals certified in EMDRIA approved EMDR training.  Public safety professionals are exposed to life and death situations and the most difficult aspects of human suffering throughout a 25 to 35 year career.  Such exposure can take a toll on the human condition.  EMDR can mitigate such distress and be part of that recovery plan that our heroes warrant and deserve.

Cordico is the world leader in wellness technology for high-stress professions, providing trusted, confidential, 24/7 proactive and preventative wellness support specially developed for law enforcementfirefightersdispatchersmedical professionals, and others serving in the most demanding and critical roles. Our customized, continuously updated wellness platform solutions provide handheld access to anonymous self-assessments, peer support, instructional videos, geo-mapping of vetted therapists (EMDR, CBT, etc.), one-touch calling, and on-demand tools targeting alcohol abuse, anger management, anxiety, behavioral health, brain health and cognitive strength, burnout, childhood adversity, compassion fatigue, COVID-19 resources, critical incidents, depression, emotional health and survival, family support, financial fitness, goal-setting and achievement, grief and loss, healthy habits, heart health, ICAC coping and resiliency, injury prevention, intrusive traumatic images, major life events, marital guidance, mental toughness, mindfulness, nutrition, panic attacks, parenting tips, peak performance, physical fitness, physical therapist videos, posttraumatic stress, relationship success, resilience, sleep optimization, stress management, substance abuse, trauma, suicide risk and prevention, work-life balance, YFFR Yoga for First Responders, videos, and much more.

About Dr. Robert J. Cipriano Jr.

Dr. Cipriano has been working with the community professionally within the field of psychology for 28 years. He is a member of the Cordico Advisory Board and also provides EAP services for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) agents and civilians (both sworn and non-sworn) in managing an array of critical incidents. Dr. Cipriano is a Florida & North Carolina Licensed Psychologist, he is board certified in Police and Public Safety Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), and for the past decade had also worked as a Police Psychologist for Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD). In that role he served as a consultant for the Special Response Team (SRT -also known as SWAT) and provided expert training and developed strategies for effectively working with and understanding the “criminal mind.” He assisted the team in gaining insight and managing individuals who suffered from severe mental illness and who were in crisis. Additionally, he provided critical support to the crisis negotiation team when they were faced with crisis situations, hostages, career criminals, and barricaded subjects who posed a threat for police and the community at large. He has provided therapeutic and as needed clinical services to both the Trauma-Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and inpatient behavioral health units at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center (AHMC) and has provided critical incident stress debriefings (CISD) for a variety of staff at AHMC. Dr. Cipriano has handled well over a 200 CISDs’ in his professional career and was recently called upon to assist Jet Blue Airlines following a critical incident involving a gunman killing five civilians and injuring numerous others at Ft. Lauderdale International Airport in Ft. Lauderdale, FL which gained international attention. He has also assisted in aiding victims of the school shooting in Parkland, FL, their families, and first responders affected by & connected to the critical incident.

Dr. Cipriano’s area of specialization includes utilizing his clinical skills operationally to target the spectrum of trauma and violence in the field. Such experience entails educating police, the military veteran, and the civilian population on the psychological effects from trauma as well as understanding and managing aspects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)-recognizing signs and symptoms of the disorder, how it manifests, and how to work and interact with those who may suffer from it.

Dr. Cipriano also offers expert training in understanding the psychological dynamics and warning signs of active shooters, school shooters, school place violence, and bully behavior. Dr. Cipriano has a strong interest in this area and has developed a clinical curriculum to target, intervene, and potentially prevent such acts along this specific spectrum of aggression. His knowledge, experience, and expertise will benefit clinicians, educational institutions, administrators, public safety professionals, and the private sector on a local, state, and national level.