What is EMDR?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a form of therapy that helps people heal from trauma or other distressing life experiences.
Our Brains and Trauma
Our brains respond to stressful situations with flight, fight, or freeze. Many times our brains can process a difficult experience and we can move past it. But if our brain gets stuck, every time the distressing memory is triggered, our brain goes back into that flight, fight or freeze mode. Sometimes we are completely unaware of what the trigger is. We just feel like we’re back in that moment when the event occurred or feel like the trauma is as powerful today as it was when it happened. Triggers can be anything our senses pick up that our brain connects to the trauma or distressing event. It might be a smell, a touch, a sound, a place, a song, or a vast array of other things. When our brain senses that trigger, it reactivates the response of flight, fight, or freeze.
How Does EMDR Work?
EMDR is a therapy that stimulates activity in the brain using eye movements, alternating sounds, or tapping. This process activates the brain, allowing it to get unstuck, and to speed the healing of unprocessed memories, without the need to discuss all the specific details of the distressing event. In most cases, EMDR resolves trauma memories quicker than with talk therapy alone.
What Issues Can Be Treated with EMDR?
There are many issues that can be effectively treated with EMDR. Some of the issues include:
- Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias
- Depression and bipolar disorders
- Grief and loss
- PTSD and other trauma and stress-related issues
- Sexual assault
- Sleep disturbance
- Violence and abuse
Extensive research has reported the effectiveness of EMDR in the treatment of trauma. EMDR therapists have gone through rigorous training and supervision to effectively use EMDR with their clients. I am also a member of EMDRIA, the EMDR International Association, which requires continued EMDR training. The video below talks about the effectiveness of EMDR with a variety of client issues.
How Can EMDR Help You?
Do you find that you continually react negatively to situations? Maybe you get angry, anxious, defensive, or jumpy. These are responses to a trigger. When you react to a trigger, your brain is reacting in a way it did when you had a similar experience (i.e. responding to someone’s raised voice, as you responded to your mom yelling at you when you were 6 years old). EMDR helps your brain connect your current situations to the memories that they trigger. It then processes that stuck memory so that it is less disturbing and no longer causes negative reactions. This can bring significant relief from depression, anxiety, phobias, stress, and many other issues.
During your initial session, I will do a thorough assessment to determine the best course of treatment. Many times, EMDR can be effective in relieving mental health symptoms. Sessions are generally 60 to 90 minutes. Most issues will take at least several sessions to resolve, however, complex trauma can take significantly more.
Is There Scientific Evidence for the Effectiveness of EMDR?
Extensive research has reported the effectiveness of EMDR in the treatment of trauma. Recent research on EMDR can be found here. EMDR therapists have gone through rigorous training and supervision to effectively use EMDR with their clients. I am also a member of EMDRIA, the EMDR International Association, which requires continued EMDR training. The video below talks about the effectiveness of EMDR with a variety of client issues.