EMDR- Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy
When you experience trauma, your body goes in a state of shock. The memories associated with the trauma get stored in the body and nervous system through memory channels that contain the original pictures, sounds, thoughts, and feelings.
The bilateral stimulation used in EMDR helps your brain to reprocess the experience allowing your body to heal from trauma. The body learns to digest the emotion attached to the memory. The memory then gets stored in a way that is not longer distressing.
Do you find that you are struggling with:
- Do you find that you are having flashbacks that keep you awake at night?
- Do you a phobia that is preventing you from living life to the fullest?
- Have you been in a car accident and you continue to struggle to get behind the wheel?
- Do you have difficulty in current relationships based on past traumatic experiences with others?
- Are you easily startled or irritated and wish to have a better overall mood and be less reactive?
- Are you numbing your pain through drugs, alcohol and/food?
Perhaps you have you have tried countless ways to help you deal with flashbacks, nightmares and the images that just won’t go away.
You may be worried that no matter how hard you try to overcome trauma that it will just never go away. If you find that you have been stuck with traditional talk therapy it is time to try EMDR. Often times an EMDR therapist can compliment ongoing traditional talk therapy.
According to the American Psychiatric Association "PTSD affects approximately 3.5 % of U.S. Adults every year. And an estimated 1 in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their life time".
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder includes: intense difficult thoughts and feelings related to the traumatic event, flashbacks or nightmares. Feelings of sadness, fear or anger, avoiding and isolating from situations that remind them of traumatic event. Experience a strong negative reaction to simple sounds, loud noises and feel generally disconnected from other people.
How does EMDR help with trauma?
When trauma occurs it gets stored in the nervous system with the original picture, sounds, thoughts, and feelings. A good image to understand what happens is to think of your brain as a file cabinet that contains files (which are the memories from your life). When we experience a traumatic event the files get disorganized and they spill out of the cabinet which prevents it from closing. When this happens this causes distress.
With EMDR therapy, you will better understand how past experiences have contributed to your current struggles. When the files (memories) are in disarray, it can cause negative thoughts and feelings causing irritability, sadness and fear.
These overwhelming emotions will interfere with your every day life. Essentially your past is not allowing you to live fully in the present.
EMDR helps to reorganize the files, allowing them to fit again. This allows your body and brain to reprocess the experience which leads to healing and relief.
EMDR therapy will also help with setting boundaries, social skills, relaxation and grounding techniques, assertive communication and learning how to apply these techniques in their everyday life encounters.
What to expect during your First Therapy Session?
Much like traditional talk therapy an EMDR therapist will also work with you to set goals for treatment. You can expect:
- To develop a timeline of memories that you would like relief from.
- The main goal is to get relief as soon as possible and one of the main tasks will be to focus on relaxation and grounding techniques to better manage difficult emotions.
- You will get a greater sense of understading the body-brain dynamic and how they work together.
- After the first session, most people report feeling hopeful.
How does it work?
One of the main aspects of EMDR is reprocessing. During this phase of your treatment, you will work on one traumatic memory at a time. With the help of bilateral stimulation, the body and brain will begin to communicate allowing you to reprocess the memory leading to relief from the distress that it had been causing you.
What is Bilateral Stimulation?
Bilateral stimulation allows your right brain and your left brain to begin to communicate.
It can be done through watching your therapist fingers back and forth, hand buzzards, audio tones or self tapping that also mimics the bilateral rhythm.
How many sessions is EMDR?
The number of sessions depends on each individual person. With EMDR treatment your brain is guiding the process. Your therapist will be able to give you a better understanding of how many sessions are needed after the initial session.
Typically, it would be a shorter amount of sessions for an isolated event or phobia. More sessions will be neded for complex traumatic experiences.
How effective is EMDR with other concerns:
EMDR has been proved to be effective for these presenting concerns:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Any and all traumatic experiences, anxiety, depression, bipolar, behavioral disorders, grief, car accidents, low self-esteem, phobias, natural disasters; those who also have autism or low IQ can benefit. It is effective for all ages, from children to the elderly.
No, you are fully awake and conscious during EMDR.
Not necessarily. You will be able to reprocess the memory in a more positive lens. You will not feel as plagued down as you once were.
It is recommended to wait several hours after doing the eye simulations in EMDR to drive or attend work. However, everyone is different and you may be fine but it’s recommended to have another ride after first starting EMDR to see how your eyes react.
No, it is recommended you do not during the reprocessing.
You may have some memories associated with the trauma resurface and it’s important to keep a log to inform your therapist of any negative feelings, nightmares, and old memories which have come up since your first session.
Please know this is normal!
They will be processed and retargeted in a future meeting. Within a few days to weeks for some, you will find that your symptoms such as criticalness, impulsivity, anxiety, negative thinking, etc., can and will begin to dissipate.
*Instead of spending years in talk Therapy and discussing your past, you can actually do something about it today through EMDR!
For more information and resources please visit the official website at emdria.org.
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