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 What is EMDR?

Image by Victor Freitas

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.   EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.

What are the advantages  of EMDR?
  • It works. Dozens of studies have found that EMDR is effective. 

  • It tends to work faster than other forms of therapy. People receiving EMDR typically start seeing results much sooner than with other forms of therapy.

  • It’s usually less stressful. EMDR focuses on processing and moving past your trauma. Other methods involve having you describe and even relive negative events.

  • You don't have to talk in detail of the trauma.EMDR therapy doesn’t require talking in detail about a distressing issue. EMDR instead focuses on changing the emotions, thoughts or behaviors that result from a distressing experience (trauma). This allows your brain to resume a natural healing process

What can I expect in an EMDR session?

During and EMDR session, you and your therapist will sit facing one another and your therapist will use their hand to guide your eyes in moving side to side while asking you to think of your problem in the context of a “scene”. You will alternate between playing through your “scene” for short periods of time and using eye movement to calm physical sensations and emotions that arise when you think of your problem. The combined eye movements and guided instructions aid in accessing  memories while helping you reprocess what you remember from the negative event. As your brain processes through the problem with eye movements, the way you think and feel about the problem begins to naturally shift. Most people appreciate this level of relief, but we continue to process until the problem no longer has a negative effect on you. (Yes, that is possible). That reprocessing helps “repair” the mental injury from that memory. Remembering what happened to you will no longer feel like reliving it, and the related feelings will be much more manageable.

What conditions and problems does EMDR treat?

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