Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a remarkable technique which has been very successful in helping people who suffer from trauma, anxiety, panic, disturbing memories, post traumatic stress and many other emotional problems. Until recently, these conditions were difficult and time-consuming to treat. EMDR is considered a breakthrough therapy because of its simplicity and the fact that it can bring quick and lasting relief for most types of emotional distress. 

Photo by Nuria Val

How does it work?

 

EMDR works by accessing experiences that are stored in the brain and body and revisits them in the present moment. When you go through something that is overwhelming or disturbing your brain and nervous system will remember it to help keep you from being harmed again. While it is part of the brain's survival mechanism to remember upsetting events, this information can get stuck. 

Distressing images, intrusive thoughts, painful body sensations and upsetting emotions may become repeatedly triggered long after the danger has passed. These can create distorted negative self beliefs, feeling overwhelmed, being on alert for danger or numbing. In the midst of a traumatic event occurring, whether it is a parent lashing out at you when you are a child or a car accident, your focus may narrow, like tunnel vision, so you are only paying attention to the thing you need to survive. When this incident is recorded in your memory, some information about what else may have been happening, including things that may have been helpful in that moment, may be forgotten. 

EMDR uses eye movements or other stimuli, such as handheld pulses or tapping, to stimulate the brain while you are revisiting the traumatic event. Body sensations and thoughts are also noticed. Looking at it in the safety of the present moment desensitizes the charge around the event or memory. In this more relaxed state, information that might have been forgotten can be recalled or new pieces can be added to help make sense of what happened. Once the memory is fully reprocessed, it can be restored in the memory without the negative charge previously attached to it. 

What Does an EMDR Session Look Like?

The first thing to know is that your safety is key. EMDR works with your brain's natural ability to adapt and integrate new information. We will support and guide you, but most importantly, allow your healing process to unfold in the way that is best for you. This is a collaborative process. 

Before we begin processing, we take the time to get to know you, what you have been through and what you want to work on. From deciding, setting the pace, and always having the option to stop or take a break, you are in control. 

As part of the preparation process, we will help you reconnect to strengths, positive experiences and relationships that have helped you in your life which may have been forgotten, but are still stored in your memory networks and your body. Reconnecting with these resources is an important part of the healing process. 

When processing begins, we will ask you to focus on a target memory, bring to mind an image, and notice your body sensations, emotions, and thoughts. Then we will add tapping, pulses, or eye movements in sets. At the end of each, we will ask you to notice what you are experiencing in that moment. We may ask you questions to help you keep moving through the process, work through any blocks as they arise. We will keep repeating the process until the disturbing material you were focusing on has lost its charge. 

 

Is EMDR Right For Me?

Utilizing your innate ability to heal, EMDR can provide a life changing transformation. For many of our clients, it has provided relief after years of trying to address symptoms through traditional talk therapy. Some of the challenges we have treated with EMDR include:

  • Stress, anxiety and PTSD

  • Childhood trauma and abuse

  • Attachment & developmental trauma, such as emotional abuse or neglect

  • Sexual trauma

  • Witnessing or experiencing violence

  • Relationship and intimacy issues

  • Intergenerational family trauma

  • Flashback, panic attacks and phobias

  • Depression

  • Dissociation

  • Grief and loss

  • Performance anxiety

  • Sleep issues

  • Addiction, substance abuse

  • Unrealistic feelings of guilt and shame

You don't have to live with feeling unsafe about the world or others or negatively about yourself. EMDR therapy can help you resolve the traumas of your past so you can live fully now.