You may have never heard of EMDR therapy before, or maybe you have heard of it but aren’t sure exactly what it entails. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a type of therapy that involves helping the brain to reprocess trapped memories, typically those related to trauma in a person’s life.
How does it work?
EMDR works by using a technique called bilateral stimulation to repeatedly activate opposite sides of the brain. Therapists often use eye movements to facilitate bilateral stimulation. These eye movements mimic the period of sleep referred to as Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep. This portion of sleep is frequently considered to be the time when the mind processes events in a person’s life.
EMDR seems to help the brain reprocess the trapped memories in such a way that normal information processing is resumed. Therapists often use EMDR to help clients uncover and process beliefs that developed as a result of relational trauma or childhood abuse and/or neglect.
Less Talking, More Healing
In most types of therapy, there is a lot of talking involved, which can be daunting for a person struggling with past trauma. No one wants to relive a traumatic event. EMDR is different.
Talking is limited with EMDR treatments. You don’t have to relive past traumatic experiences. In fact, you aren’t required to describe the traumatic event at all. EMDR treatment is often described as being a passenger on a moving train and seeing different events from your life quickly and quietly pass through the windows.
When receiving EMDR therapy, you and your therapist will determine a code phrase or word. That word can be used if the therapy becomes too intense. You and your therapist are working together to create an emotional safe space where you can freely let go of past trauma.
What is the process of EMDR?
You might be wondering “if I don’t have to talk about it, how does this type of therapy actually take place?” Typically the client will choose a comfortable spot to sit and keep their head still. The client will be asked to think about a traumatic memory. The therapist will hold up his/her hand and move it side-to-side as the client focuses on the hand. As the eyes move back and forth, the brain is somehow allowed to process the trauma, making it easier for the client to work through it.
It helps the client to deal with any repressed feelings of fear or anger and gives clients back control. This treatment is considered successful when the client is able to recall the memory without any negative bodily reactions.
What does EMDR help?
EMDR was originally established as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It has since also been proven useful in treating a variety of other conditions including panic attacks, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, disturbing memories, phobias, pain disorders, performance anxiety, addictions, stress reduction, sexual and/or physical abuse, body dysmorphic disorders, and personality disorders.
EMDR can also be useful for clients who are experiencing distressing emotions that appear to them, and perhaps others, to be excessive given the current situation. If you are highly reactive to certain triggers and aren’t sure why, EMDR can help to reprocess those deep memories that are leading to such a reaction. It can also be a helpful treatment for a person who has dysfunctional beliefs about themself that they know are not true but can’t seem to shake.
It might sound like EMDR is a miracle cure, but that is not the case. As with anything, your brain has to be ready to let go. To determine if this type of therapy is right for you, contact us at Rooted & Rising Therapy. We want to help you release any trauma into the past and get you back to feeling your best. We are confident you can move forward healthier and happier with the right tools.
For a more detailed explanation of EMDR, visit EMDR Institute, Inc.
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