EMDR is not a new therapy. It has been thoroughly researched and shown to be effective.
EMDR is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. In 1987, psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts, under certain conditions.
When something disturbing happens it gets stored in the brain in a way that our human system feels that event is either going to happen again at any moment, or is happening now. When some event happens that may be similar or just has an element that reminds the system of that disturbing event, the brain reacts as if the original disturbing event is happening.
EMDR helps to move the storage of that memory to a more functional part of the brain that can experience the event as actually being in the past. It is important to know that there is a real physical change happening with EMDR. The events that used to trigger the brain into over-reaction no longer have that effect. The person can now react to the present without the past interfering.
EMDR has been successfully used to treat:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Sleep problems
- Complicated grief
- Self-esteem and performance anxiety
- Disturbing memories
- Sexual and/or physical abuse
EMDR is different than traditional talk therapy. It can feel safer since you don’t have to talk about the details of the disturbing event.
One benefit of EMDR is that clients do not have to continually talk about the past and the traumatic event. In fact, talking gets in the way of accessing the right side of the brain, so your therapist will only ask that you think of what’s happening with minimal talking. This is particularly beneficial for client’s who value their privacy or feel a lot of shame about what happened. EMDR is a gentle and effective way to heal the hurt and help you live a life free of disturbing thoughts and feelings weighing you down.
Hear what people are saying about their EMDR experience- “Healing Trauma”.
EMDR- Frequently Asked Questions
I am afraid EMDR will retraumatize me? Is that true?
No, EMDR will not retraumatize you, but that is a common concern and we understand that you don’t want to relive the details of the distressing event. EMDR is a safe, gentle, and effective therapy that has been used to treat clients with a range of concerns including PTSD, sexual and emotional abuse, anxiety, depression, and more. During EMDR, your therapist will guide you through a process designed to access the right side of your brain where the distressing thoughts and feelings are stored. One benefit of EMDR is that clients do not have to continually talk about the past and the traumatic event. In fact, talking gets in the way of accessing the right side of the brain, so your therapist will only ask that you think of what’s happening with minimal talking.
What is the process?
EMDR is an eight phase treatment method that your trained therapist will adhere to. The initial phase is gathering a history of the distressing event(s) bringing you in for counseling. You will complete some assessment scales which will help your therapist assessing your readiness and if EMDR is right for you. The second phase is client preparation in which your therapist gives you some tools to help you resource and ground yourself to help you maintain stability between and during sessions. He or she will also explain how the bilateral movements work. The third phase is assessment in which you and the therapist will jointly identify the target memory you will use. In the fourth phase, the bilateral movements will be used which is also called desensitization. This is when the disturbing event is processed and to help change the trauma-related sensory experience and increase a more positive feeling.
Do I have to share the details of the trauma I experienced? It feels too personal. I have a lot of shame about what happened.
With EMDR, you do not have to share all the details of what happened aloud with your therapist for this therapy to be effective. EMDR therapy allows you to maintain some privacy, not possible with traditional talk therapy, but still allows you to reprocess and heal those unwanted thoughts and feelings and replace them with more positive and beneficial beliefs. It is especially beneficial in helping to treat the shame connected with the disturbing events.
Want to see what a sample session is like?
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