It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing 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.

EMDR will resolve the troubling emotions, negative thinking and thought patterns that are linked to painful past experiences, ongoing trauma or traumatic events. Information processing theory reveals that multiple elements such as thoughts, feelings, sounds, body sensations and images of experience(s) are stored as memories in accessible and useful forms in the brain. However since emotions and  thoughts are stored in different places in the brain, the lack of integration leads to psychological symptoms and suffering. EMDR therapy, eye movement or other forms of bilateral stimulation facilitates healthy integration within the brain leading to lasting healing and resolution at the level of the nervous system.

During EMDR treatment, negative thoughts, images, feelings, emotions, sounds, smells and body sensations that are often linked with negative experiences from the past are replaced with positive, accurate and more helpful, healing information. During the EMDR session, the therapist uses the information provided by the client to help them correct and free the “stuck” material. Eye movements or any form of bilateral stimulation (tactile or auditory) is used to neurologically stimulate both sides of the brain so that images, feelings, negative thoughts become desensitized and experienced differently. EMDR is effective for changing negative thought patterns, emotional reactions, entrenched habits and even physical discomfort that people can’t “think” or “talk” their way out of.



Treatment Description:

EMDR sessions consist of a client focusing on a target memory, (memories used as targets are generally emotionally charged) while using back and forth (bilateral) eye movements or other forms of bilateral sensory stimulation such as auditory or tactile options. The process of the bilateral brain stimulation helps clients facilitate memories and experiences that they may not be able to access during traditional psychotherapy or talk therapy sessions.

During EMDR, clients become aware of emotions, feelings and thoughts as well as any associated body sensations connected to the targeted memory. As clients continue to process these experiences, the perception of the traumatic memory will begin to lessen or change. The memory may fade or feel less “charged” as negative feelings and physical arousal are replaced with more adaptive thoughts and feelings and a less aroused, more resourced body.

There are 8 phases of treatment.  These phases include:

Phase 1 – Assessment/History taking

Phase 2 – Skill building/resourcing to ensure that the client can handle emotional distress

Phase 3-6 – Identifying memory targets, images, negative thoughts, emotions, and body sensations related to the target memory.  In addition clients identify positive beliefs about themselves.  During these phases processing begins, and when clients report no distress with the target memory, the client is asked to think about the positive thought or belief that was identified earlier, and is checked to see if it fits after full processing.

Phase 7 – closure of processing

Phase 8 – Examining progress, and focuses on future events that will require different responses.

If  interested in learning more, I suggest the book “Getting Past Your Past” by Francine Shapiro”