EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy discovered and developed by Francine Shapiro in 1987. EMDR allows people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress brought on by traumatic experiences. Repeated studies have shown that EMDR is a highly effective evidence-based therapy that provides relief in a relatively short period of time in contrast to other psychotherapy techniques.
Our brains naturally process thoughts and store memories as we sleep during the period of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. When we experience something that is extremely traumatic, such as an accident, rape, natural disaster, war, or childhood abuse it is too much for our nervous system to process the information in the natural way. Often the disturbing memories remain fragmented causing frequent emotional and mental distress.
Just as our human bodies are equipped to heal from physical wounds, our minds are able to heal from psychological wounds as well. In order to help the body heal from a physical condition, the doctor eliminates the things that block the process – infection, foreign objects, and so on. If unhampered the information processing system in our brains moves naturally toward mental health. When a traumatic event overwhelms the brain the information cannot be fully processed and causes emotional distress. Implementing the detailed protocols and procedures of EMDR therapy, we can work together to activate your natural healing processes.
EMDR treatment has eight phases. After completing a thorough assessment, we will work to ensure that you are prepared and ready to focus on the trauma. We will select the target memory you will begin processing. You will be asked to hold different aspects of that memory in mind while tracking with your eyes or using other forms of bi-lateral stimulation. Your brain will do the rest. Your therapist will be checking in with you to make sure that things are moving in a positive direction but unlike conventional talk therapy, the insights and understanding takes place in the mind of the client rather than talking with the therapist. Every person’s experience is different but generally the progression proceeds from experiencing the memories as painful and disturbing to adding new insight and information that bring transformation. For example, a victim of a sexual assault may come to therapy with beliefs that they are at fault and have feelings of self-loathing and transform their internal beliefs to recognizing “I am strong and I survived.”