EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

Do you ever find yourself having a hard time moving forward from a troubling or traumatic experience in your past?  It could be something that is holding you back in your career or school performance, negatively affecting important relationships in your life, or your lowering your self-confidence.  Are you looking for a way to overcome this experience and feel confident in taking on new challenges, or feel more satisfied with yourself and your relationships with others?  Allow me to give you an introduction to EMDR therapy.

When people have experiences that overwhelm their capacity to cope in the moment it is stored in the brain in a way that doesn’t allow it to become fully processed.  An unprocessed memory is when our emotional experience is not able to be integrated with our logic and reasoning abilities.  As a result, instead of gaining resolution or understanding, a person may re-live the painful aspects of the experience as though they were currently or continuously happening in the present. 

Example

Imagine you were rear ended while driving your car, even if it was a minor accident without injury, you may still feel a knot in your stomach or a jolt of fear or anxiety when you go to stop or slow down while driving in the future.  The experience of being in a car accident triggers our brains fight, flight, or freeze response.  This response is meant to enable us to stay safe and avoid or overcome dangerous situations.  In the case of a car accident, our brains capacity to keep us safe has been overwhelmed, and is unsuccessful.  The next time you get in a car you know, logically, you are no more likely to get in an accident now than you were before, yet those feelings from the accident are likely still there.  In minor incidents such as this oneour brain is often (though not always) able to re-learn that we are safe, through positive experiences we are able to integrate the emotional and logical parts of our brain and we gain confidence in our ability to keep safe while driving again.  This is not always the case though.  Imagine now, if you or someone you cared about had been seriously injured, or narrowly escaped more serious injury?  In these types of incidents (and others, mentioned below) the experience can actually become locked in our nervous system in a way that we are not able to integrate our emotional and logical understanding on our own.  This is where EMDR therapy is used.

What is an EMDR session like?

Together, you and your therapist will develop a treatment plan that allows you to target specific memories or experiences that are interfering in your daily functioning. Using eye movement, sounds, or tapping your therapist will help you to engage both the emotional and logical functions of your brain while you are guided through this past memory or experience.  During this time you are asked to simply notice what is going on for you in the moment.  Through this process your brain will be able to re-learn a more adaptive understanding of your past, and allow you to experience the memory as neutral as opposed to upsetting or disturbing.  Your memories are not changed or forgotten, and you are not being hypnotized.  You are always in control of the experience. 

Who Could Benefit from EMDR?

  • memories or experiences of abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual) and/or neglect
  • accident survivors
  • survivors of natural disasters (earthquake, tsunami, tornado, wildfire, etc.)
  • military personnel, police, fire fighters, EMS, and trauma counsellors who are exposed to trauma repeatedly
  • phobia sufferers (flying, public speaking, spiders, etc.)
  • anxiety struggles (performance, test taking, general etc.)
  • experiences of loss (separation, divorce, death, loss of job, etc.)

 

Why choose EMDR?

  • Compared to more traditional therapy models, with EMDR the therapeutic insights gained come from the client him or herself.  Although the therapist guides the process, the client is able to use information that is most useful and relevant to his or her own life experience. 
  • EMDR helps to prepare clients to overcome similar challenges in the future. 
  • EMDR tends to requires less time.
  • EMDR does not REQUIRE complete re-telling of traumatic experiences.
  • EMDR considers the emotional, mental, and physical experiences of well-being and works to develop health in all these areas of functioning.

 

 

For further information and research regarding EMDR click here.