EMDR Therapy

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

EMDR is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.

EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.

The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.

How does EMDR work?

No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes “frozen in time,” and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following successful EMDR treatment, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.

I have used EMDR to treat:

  • Social Anxiety
  • Childhood behavior issues
  • Anger Management issues
  • Ego state therapy-working with parts of self
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Childhood trauma and abuse
  • Early Trauma-Birth to 3 years
  • Parental Divorce

EMDR may be combined with play therapy or talk therapy to achieve the maximum benefit for the client.

  • As with any form of psychotherapy, there may be a temporary increase in distress.
  • Distressing and unresolved memories may emerge.
  • Some clients may experience emotional or physical reactions during a treatment session that weren’t anticipated.
  • Subsequent to the treatment session, the processing of incidents/material may continue, and other dreams, memories, feelings, etc., may emerge. (This can actually be beneficial since clients may return to their next session with reduced emotional upset and the ability to see things differently.)

Excerpted or adapted from EMDR Institute website www.emdr.com and
EMDR International Association www.emdria.org