EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing
EMDR is a life changing therapy that can help you with your past, your present, and your future!
What is EMDR?
EMDR therapy is both a therapeutic tool and a trauma treatment that helps you address the challenges of your past, your present, and your future. Its effectiveness has been shown in many clinical studies and is the therapy of choice for traumatic memories and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). EMDR has also been clinically proven to accelerate the treatment of a wide range of problems and self-esteem issues related both to disturbing past traumatic events and present life conditions. EMDR is effective with adults, youth and children.
EMDR is a non-drug, non-hypnosis psychotherapy procedure. It was developed by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro, who made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts. EMDR incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with bilateral eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation. One of the key elements of EMDR is “dual stimulation.” During treatment, you are asked to think or talk about memories, triggers, and painful emotions while simultaneously focusing on your therapist’s moving finger or another form of bilateral stimuli (e.g. alternating hand taps, or a chime that pans back and forth from ear to ear).
At the time of a traumatic event, strong emotions interfere with our ability to completely process the experience and aspects of the trauma can become “frozen in time.” Recalling the traumatic event may feel as though the person is reliving the event all over again because the images, smells, sounds, and feelings are still there and can be triggered in the present. When activated, these memories cause a negative impact on our daily functioning and interfere with the way we see ourselves and our world, and how we relate to others. EMDR therapy appears to directly affect the brain, “unfreezing” the traumatic memories, allowing you to resolve them. Over time the disturbing memory and associated beliefs, feelings, sensations become “digested” or worked through until you are able to think about the event without reliving it. The memory is still there, but it is less upsetting.
What is EMDR used for?
EMDR is used with clients who have experienced a broad range of disturbing life experiences, including accidents, loss of job or loved one, physical/sexual abuse, and exposure to combat and natural disasters. EMDR is also used to treat troubling symptoms such as anxiety, depression, guilt, anger, complicated grief reactions, phobias, and post-traumatic reactions. In addition it is used to treat relationship problems, performance anxiety, and self-esteem issues.
EMDR offers a reprocessing of these disturbing life experiences, resulting in a significant reduction or elimination of symptoms such as emotional distress, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares. It can also be used to enhance emotional resources such as confidence and self-esteem.
What happens in an EMDR session?
EMDR is unique for everyone, because the healing process is guided from within. It is important to know that a client cannot do EMDR wrong. EMDR therapy starts with the therapist and client working together to identify a specific problem as the focus of a treatment session. The client calls to mind the disturbing issue or event, what was seen, felt, heard, and what thoughts and beliefs they hold about that event and themselves. The therapist performs sets of bi-lateral stimili while the client focus on on the disturbing material, and the client just notices whatever comes to mind without any effort in order to process content. Often past issues or memories come up, which are related to the presenting problems, and these may also be treated with EDMR, often in the same session. Sometimes a painful memory brings up unpleasant emotions or body sensations; this is normal and as EMDR continues it often passes quickly. The upsetting emotion or memory often seems to soften and lose its emotional, cognitive, or somatic power as EMDR is completed.
Will I be in control?
Always. It is hard to predict the thoughts, feelings, or memories that might come up during EMDR. It depends upon each individual's natural healing process. You are always in charge of whether to continue or stop. You can also decide how much to tell the therapist about the experience. The therapist serves as a guide to help you stay on track and get the most out of the session.
If you have general or specific questions about EMDR within my counseling practice, please contact me directly. I am open to discussing your questions or concerns in greater detail to determine if I may be the right counselor for you or someone you care about.