EMDR affords us a unique way of working through traumatic memories and areas in our lives we have had a hard time moving past.
What is EMDR therapy?
EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy. EMDR was discovered by Dr. Francine Shapiro one day while running through the park. She noticed that certain eye movements were disrupting the distress she was feeling about difficult memories in her life. EMDR is an integrated approach to therapy that works to help release the negative beliefs, emotions, and uncomfortable sensations stuck in the body.
When we experience an overwhelming or traumatic life event it disrupts our ability to adequately process the experience. These memories can become maladaptively stored in the brain and easily triggered later in life. You can think of this memory as a rock that got stuck in your brain. When this happens memories can become intrusive and experienced as flashbacks or even thinking of that memory can be enough to trigger the beliefs, emotions, and uncomfortable sensations you felt at the time it happened.
What makes EMDR unique?
EMDR uses bilateral stimulation such as eye movements or other rhythmic left- right brain activation to decrease the symptoms that result from traumatic life events. There are a number of theories as to why EMDR is effective. One of them being bilateral stimulation seems to activate the brain in the same way that it is activated during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This activation seems to have an effect on the way the brain processes information. There are still a lot of unknowns as to why EMDR is effective but over the last several decades of research and clinical experience we have seen that bilateral stimulation seems to reduce the vividness and reactivity associated with traumatic memories.
After EMDR therapy people are able to recall these difficult life events but they no longer feel triggered by them in the moment.
What is EMDR helpful for?
EMDR has been shown to be effective for treating symptoms related to major traumas such as:
Sometimes at first glance people do not relate to the word trauma as part of their story. However, there are a host of issues that EMDR has been used to treat.
It would be impossible to cover them all here but here are a few to give you an idea:
Sometimes people are very aware of the traumatic events that are causing their symptoms and other times people can not identify why they are experiencing anxiety, panic, negative self- talk, depression, etc.
We will work together to explore your story and create a treatment plan around your unique life experiences.
You can also find more information through EMDRIA- EMDR International Association.
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