What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy for trauma and other difficulties that are the result of disturbing life experiences. It uses the brain’s natural healing processes to alleviate emotional pain quickly. Currently, it’s a very popular type of therapy – and for good reason! It’s different from talk therapy and is useful for those who struggle with making connections, identifying emotions, or communicating in the way that traditional talk therapy requires for a client to heal. Unlike most forms of talk therapy, with EMDR we focus less on the storyline of the traumatic event and more on the emotions and symptoms that resulted from the event.
How does EMDR work?
Scientists have found that much of the brain’s natural healing happens in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase of sleep. This is the very deep form of sleep when we dream. They noticed that, in this phase, the eyes move back and forth. This therapy utilizes that form of brain stimulation to assist the brain in processing, except in EMDR you’re awake. The therapy uses alternating movements of the eyes, stimulation of the hands through tappers, or using alternating sounds to stimulate the brain in a specific way. It’s painless and it is not hypnosis. You are fully conscious, aware, and in control of the situation in therapy. The therapist is there to guide you and you can stop the process at any time.
Most of the time your body manages to imprint, process, and file memories in a specific way. When something traumatic happens this process is interrupted. When the normal memory process is interrupted, the memory may become fragmented and not fully processed. This creates struggles for a person when this memory is stimulated and creates emotional pain in the form of anxiety, depression, emotional outbursts, flashbacks, and more. These symptoms can create distress in the present when things from the past are brought up. EMDR allows your brain to process, connect, and file this information so that it gets put in the memory banks and becomes just that: a memory instead of an ever-present experience.
How can EMDR help me?
Overall, the goal of EMDR is to allow the brain to process and file the information. This shows up in session in the form of changes in thoughts, images, feelings, and the overall narrative of the event. Clients often find that, for this reason, the pain of the memory subsides and is no longer bothersome after treatment.
Is EMDR only effective for trauma?
EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma, but since its development over 30 years ago, EMDR has also been found to be useful for treating:
- Anxiety and Panic
- Sleep Problems
- Complicated Grief
- Self Esteem
If you have questions about EMDR or are interested in scheduling a free 20-minute consultation, please call me at (615) 823-0701