Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a comprehensive psychotherapy approach. The eight-phase process is used to desensitize anxiety and beliefs about oneself that are formed follwoing a traumatic event. During and at the conclusion of EMDR therapy treatment, memories are reprocessed so they are more adaptive and less bothersome when recalled. EMDR therapy has been extensively researched and is widely recognized as an effective form of treatment. The positive effects from this treatment are quite remarkable and clinets report feeling more confident and happy and no longer feel burdened by the negative effects that developed from the event(s).
After trauma occurs—a one-time event or ongoing experience—strong negative feelings block cognitive processing, and maladaptive information is stored in the brain. For example, a victim of a violent act often feels that they are to blame for the traumatic event, despite having a general understanding that the responsiblitiy truly lies with the perpetrator. The memory is "locked" and stored, unprocessed. Consequently, when the trauma victim thinks about the event, they may experience flashbacks that cause a feeling of imminent, present danger. The victim may experience intense physical sensations, strong emotions, and anxiety. This reaction is commonly called the fight, flight or freeze response. Anyone who has experienced or witnessed any type of violence or tragedy typically has these sypmtoms. Chronic feelings as described over a period of time following trauma leads to PTSD - post traumatic stress disorder. People with PTSD can have a wide range of sypmtoms and varying degrees of distress. It is critical that anyone with PTSD symptoms seek professional help to get trauma- based therapy, like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
Memories are linked in a way that affects future reactions. A child whom is abused by a parent will likely have difficulties trusting people. The child associates trust and vulnerability with hurt and pain and may withdraw from others or create defenses to feel protected. EMDR therapy reprocesses memories so they are no longer linked. The anxiety from the trauma decreases and more adaptive reactions and outlooks result. The memories are still stored, but they are more fully-processed. The link is weakened and emotional distress attached to the memories is desensitized as a result. With EMDR therapy, new insights, changes in memories, or new associations are typically made as well. Clients are better able to focus and can “let go” of the pain associated with and caused by trauma.
The benefits and results from EMDR therapy are far-reaching and life-changing. The treatment is used for clients who suffer with many conditions. The conditions may include:
- Panic attacks
- Disturbing memories
- Pain disorders
- Stress reduction
- Complicated grief
My training in EMDR helps clients assuage the negative effects of these and other distressing life challenges. Please contact me to set up a consultation to determine if EMDR therapy might be appropriate for you.