What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was developed in 1987 by Francine Shapiro. It is a powerful therapeutic technique that utilizes your brain’s natural healing mechanism to treat several mental health issues, such as PTSD, anxiety and depression. An easy way to understand this healing process is to think about what happens when we are asleep. In certain phases of sleep, our eyes move back and forth quickly. This is called REM sleep. It is thought that REM sleep helps process memories and restore balance to the brain. EMDR is believed to work similarly.
What are some ways that trauma can affect people?
When something happens to you that is anxiety provoking (like a life-threatening event), or you are repeatedly exposed to distress (like child abuse or neglect) your brain’s memory processing system can become overloaded. This can cause these disturbing experiences to become stuck in your brain as unprocessed memories. These memories can be easily triggered by current events, even if the original event or its details have been forgotten. For example, a person who was in a serious car accident while crossing a bridge may experience a panic attack while driving over a bridge years later. In this case, EMDR can help create connections in your brain’s memory networks to help process and heal the original memory of the accident. This can stop or reduce the risk of the person having future panic attacks.
How can EMDR help me?
Many clients have seen rapid improvement of symptoms with EMDR. It has been used to treat:
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
• Panic attacks
• Low self-esteem
• Several other conditions
What can I expect during a session?
EMDR sessions are a little different than traditional talk therapy sessions. The first few sessions involve an assessment, preparing for EMDR processing and developing appropriate memories to target for processing. You will be asked to think of a specific memory along with thoughts about yourself, feelings and physical sensations connected to that memory. While you are doing this, your therapist will use a light bar to start eye movements, or an instrument called tappers to provide alternating bilateral stimulation. This is what helps the memories process. After several sets of bi-lateral stimulation, you will notice an improvement in the negative thoughts and feelings you experience. Eventually, your painful memories will likely become neutral, and you will have a more positive belief about yourself associated with that memory. As a result, you may experience significant relief from symptoms, even if you’ve had them for years! We are excited to be able assist our clients in healing with this effective treatment.