Increased Precautions We're Taking in Response to the Coronavirus
As updates on the impact of the coronavirus continue to be released, we want to take a moment to inform you of the heightened preventative measures we have put in place at Sierra by the Sea to keep our patients, their families, and our employees safe. All efforts are guided by and in adherence to the recommendations distributed by the CDC.

Please note that for the safety of our patients, their families, and our staff, on-site visitation is no longer allowed at Sierra by the Sea.

  • This restriction has been implemented in compliance with updated corporate and state regulations to further reduce the risks associated with COVID-19.
  • We are offering visitation through telehealth services so that our patients can remain connected to their loved ones.
  • Alternate methods of communication for other services are being vetted and may be offered when deemed clinically appropriate.

For specific information regarding these changes and limitations, please contact us directly.

CDC updates are consistently monitored to ensure that all guidance followed is based on the latest information released.

  • All staff has received infection prevention and control training.
  • Thorough disinfection and hygiene guidance has been provided.
  • Patient care supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer are being monitored and utilized.
  • Temperature and symptom screening protocols are in place for all patients and staff.
  • Social distancing strategies have been implemented to ensure that patients and staff maintain proper distance from one another at all times.
  • Cleaning service contracts have been reviewed for additional support.
  • Personal protective equipment items are routinely checked to ensure proper and secure storage.
  • CDC informational posters are on display to provide important reminders on proper infection prevention procedures.
  • We are in communication with our local health department to receive important community-specific updates.

The safety of our patients, their families, and our employees is our top priority, and we will remain steadfast in our efforts to reduce any risk associated with COVID-19.

The CDC has provided a list of easy tips that can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then immediately dispose of the tissue.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.

For detailed information on COVID-19, please visit

EMDR Therapy Interview

Dr. Christine McIlwain is an expert in the use of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), having done her doctorate on this intervention.

She facilitates our client’s recovery by providing EMDR treatment which effectively re-processes trauma events so that the destructive effects of trauma are reduced or totally diminished. EMDR is the #1 treatment intervention for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and now the most researched therapeutic intervention.

Right Brain, Left Brain

Christine explains that individuals who continually relive and suffer the memories of traumatic events are being “retriggered” by these memories that are stored in the right side of the brain where the emotions are stored. The right side of the brain is the area of the brain where emotions, creativity, music, movement, and art come forth from.

After the EMDR therapy, the memories of the traumatic experience are reprocessed by the brain and re-stored on the left side of the brain. The left side of the brain is the logical, functional side of the brain, the executive functioning side, from which we make our decisions from. The trauma and anxiety associated with the traumatic events are “processed out” by the brain (a neurobiological event) and the individual then perceives the event with little or no emotion as something that merely just “happened to them.”

Per Dr. Amen’s “brain spec scans” there is actually a reduction of the storage of “anxiety” in the brain as one can see when viewing the scans of someone with PTSD.

The EMDR Process

Christine went on to explain that she prepares for the EMDR treatment (which has 8 steps in its protocol) by asking questions and taking an in depth history to determine if the person is a candidate for EMDR and to identify the traumatic events that a person has experienced.

Christine uses the Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale (SUD’s) (part of the 8 phase protocol) to determine how much the memory of the event is stressing the individual. She asks questions to discover the deeper meaning of what the episode really means to the person. This initial process helps Christine (and the client) better understand the level of stress or disturbance that is associated with the memory. Sometimes, the pain that an individual feels in remembering an experience in their past is because the event is similar to or connected to many other painful memories and experiences.

During the EMDR session, Christine uses tapping (bilateral stimulation) on the knees or hands which is part of the 8 phase protocol. Christine continues to interact with the client by asking questions about the traumatic experiences. The EMDR session can be an emotional and “transforming” experience for the person receiving the therapy. This is constructive because the brain is “re-processing” the memory and reducing the negative emotions that once had the power to negatively influence and impact the individual.

At the end of the EMDR session, Christine asks the individual to re-rate how disturbing the event feels to them (re-administering the SUD’s) on the scale from “0” being no disturbance to “10” being the highest disturbance they can imagine. After a successful EMDR session the individual will report that the event seems insignificant and it was simply just “something that happened” to them. The brain has re-processed the trauma event and the memory is then stored on the left side of the brain with the client reporting the memory as now just a “picture” or “story” without the negative emotional arousal. The client then experiences emotional freedom from the traumatic event thus enabling them to move on with their lives.

Who is a candidate for EMDR?

Many clients in our treatment programs take advantage of the EMDR therapy that Dr. Christine McIlwain offers. Clients in our women’s treatment program, The Rose, all work with Christine. Both men and women who suffer from the memory of traumatic events are candidates for EMDR therapy. EMDR has also been proven to be effective for individuals who suffer from:

  • Panic attacks
  • Complicated grief
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Phobias
  • Pain disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Performance anxiety
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Depression


Recovery is fueled by hope and courage and an exploration of the underlying factors such as trauma. Our treatment driven by compassionate and trauma-informed care provides the foundation of recovery and healing.

– Valerie M. Kading, DNP, MBA, MSN, PMHNP-BC, Chief Executive Officer
Marks of Quality Care
These accreditations are an official recognition of our dedication to providing treatment that exceeds the standards and best practices of quality care.
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)
  • California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP)
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)