Have you ever wondered why it is harder for you to move on or let go than others? Why one incident or situation can be more upsetting, stressful, anxiety inducing, shaming, or traumatizing for you more than others? Or perhaps why it’s harder for you to change, break old patterns, move forward, or leave the past behind? Believe it or not it frequently has less to do with you as a person and more with the way your brain and nervous system are functioning and responding to various stimuli in your world.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy is a relatively newer form of therapy that is designed to actively engage the brain in various ways that standard talk therapy is not always able to do. More specifically, this technique appears to have a direct effect on how the brain processes maladaptive information such as trauma, triggers, anxiety or stress inducing experiences. Through the use of something called bi-lateral stimulation (engaging both hemispheres of the brain through sensory stimulation) a successful EMDR session can help to speed up the processing of past traumatic experiences and diminish disturbing emotions and negative beliefs associated with those events. EMDR does not make your experiences and memories disappear. It does, however, drastically diminish the intensity of the cognitive, somatic, emotional, relational, and affect responses you may still be having to those memories so that the effects of past experiences no longer control and dictate your life.
By impacting the lens through which we experience ourselves and our relationships the world around us can transform. A successful EMDR session not only provides relief. It can increase clarity and transform how we live by strengthening our autonomy.
EMDR is very successful in treating:
- Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – past childhood abuse (emotional, physical, sexual, psychological, etc.), invasive medical procedures and medical mishaps, rape, domestic violence, witnesses and victims of community violence
- Shame & Self-Esteem – those past experiences that have you feeling bad about yourself, unloveable, unworthy, etc.
- Panic Attacks, Anxiety, Phobias
- Disturbing Memories – flashbacks, body memories, intrusive thoughts
- Grief and Loss
- Substance Abuse
- Performance Anxiety and worries about future events
How I Integrate EMDR with Psychotherapy: First and foremost I utilize EMDR as one of many useful techniques to help clients work through trauma, shame, anxiety, and stress. It is by no means a “cure” or “antidote.” Having tried EMDR for myself and having seen the immense efficacy it has had on the clients I serve, I am highly optimistic that it can be a helpful aspect of your therapy if applied properly.
Furthermore, EMDR is by no means appropriate for everyone. What talk therapy is helpful for is bringing you into a deeper level of awareness and insight about your life. For some people, that heightened sense of awareness is enough to really do the in-depth work needed to help you heal and change. For others, the insights can be incredibly helpful in making sense of how and why you’re feeling the way you are, but not in actually helping you break out of old patterns or willing yourself out of distressed states. The reason for this is because your brain is likely holding onto negative beliefs that you have about yourself due to past painful experiences. EMDR is an incredibly quick and effective method to allow you to face these past experiences and gently guiding you to overcome the anxieties behind them that are contributing to what has you coming to therapy in the first place. Therefore, I suggest EMDR to those clients who, despite having analyzed and processed every nook and cranny of how their past experiences are affecting them now, feel and appear powerless against these aspects of their lives.
Please contact me to learn more about EMDR and how I utilize it in my practice.