WHAT IS EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
(EMDR) can be an extremely effective and very powerful way to treat trauma. It can also be utilized to treat phobias, anxiety, and depression, and it's a great way to help people build confidence and enhance performance in any area of their lives. EMDR often takes significantly less time than other forms of therapy. One of the best parts of EMDR is that it helps your brain to tap into its own ability to heal itself without having to rehash all the details of a traumatic event, making it very useful even for those who aren’t very comfortable talking about their issues.
When a person is experiencing PTSD, anxiety, or distress, it sends our nervous system into “survival mode.” When we are in fight/flight, it creates overactivity in certain parts of the brain.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT IN AN EMDR SESSION?
EMDR happens over 8 phases of treatment. The first few phases involve educating you about EMDR, taking a thorough history of what it is you’re wanting to address and then preparing you and your nervous system for the work. This includes exercises that will help keep you in your “window of tolerance”, as well as learning techniques that will help you regulate your mind and body.
When we are ready to begin reprocessing (this is where the eye movements come into play), we will select a “target” which is typically a negative belief tied to a specific memory or experience in your life. We will also measure how upsetting it feels for you to think of those things now in present day. For example, if you have a phobia of public speaking, your negative belief might be “I’m going to fail”. Your memory tied to that belief may be a time in school when you felt embarrassed in front of your peers during a presentation. While bringing up the belief and the memory together, your therapist will have you follow her fingers back and forth with your eyes (typically around 25-30 passes). In between sets of eye movements, you will be noticing what is coming up in your thoughts, emotions and body. Over time (sometimes even just in the course of one reprocessing session), your target should become less and less disturbing. Once reprocessing is complete, we move on to helping you replace your original negative feelings with positive ones about yourself and your experiences. Essentially, what once made you feel horrible, can begin to make you feel empowered.
EXAMPLES OF PRESENTING CONCERNS THAT WE SUCCESSFULLY TREAT USING EMDR:
Am I Ready for EMDR?
While EMDR can be an effective treatment approach for so many, it isn’t right for everyone. The reprocessing phase of EMDR can bring up lots of complex emotions which is anxiety-inducing for some people. There are several ways we manage this intensity, but some clients are not yet ready for this part of their healing journey. Some important things we will consider together is whether or not you have had any previous therapy, the severity and intensity of your trauma, the degree of dissociation you may experience, your openness and ability to practice good emotional regulation techniques, and definitely the timing of reprocessing in your current circumstances.