EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

woman peeking from behind a cloth

EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is therapy that involves less talking than traditional therapy. It also tends to get more rapid results than traditional therapy. Healing does not have to take years and years of therapy.

EMDR helps remove the blocks that keeps us stuck in suffering or pain. We can not heal if we have obstacles in our way. Sometimes we are so unaware of those blocks and they are lodged deep within us. EMDR helps find and remove the blocks that lie deep in psyche.

EMDR will help heal emotions, negative thoughts, that are linked to painful past experiences, or traumatic events. When we have any memory, good or bad, our brain stores parts of the memories that we need, (in the form of thoughts, feelings, sounds, body sensations) so that we can access that memory and the different parts when we need to use it.  However since emotions and thoughts are stored in different places, we must integrate them or put them together. Often the lack of putting together the thought and emotions leads to our distress, and psychological suffering.  EMDR therapy helps integrate the thought and emotion that leads to lasting healing and resolution at the level of the nervous system. 

EMDR works with bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulation is when we stimulate right and left brain movement. The movement helps engage the logic (thought)  and the feeling part of us.  Often when we think about something that has caused emotional pain, we play out the memory, and say something like “I know that they didn’t mean to hurt me, but even though I know it, it doesn’t make me feel any better”.  That statement tells us that the feeling is still in there, and it hasn’t integrated with the logic part. The bilateral helps move it all together so that we can both logically and emotionally heal from old disturbing memories. 

During an EMDR treatment, negative thoughts, images, feelings, emotions, sounds, smells, and body sensations are linked with disturbing memories of the past.  After processing, these negative associations are replaced with positive, accurate, and more helpful information.  During the EMDR session I use information that I help elicit from you to help you get unstuck.  EMDR uses the bilateral stimulation so that both sides of the brain can work together so that images, feelings, negative thoughts become desensitized.

Bilateral can be either a light that moves the eyes back and forth, tappers that lie in your hand, or music. EMDR is effective for changing negative thought patterns, and emotional reactions that we sometimes can think or talk our way out of. 

How it works

We don’t start of doing bilateral movement right away. A lot of folks will come into therapy and want EMDR the first session. This is a process, like most anything. It may take some time to get going with the bilateral part. But just because we are not doing bilateral stimulation right away, does not mean we are not doing EMDR therapy. 

EMDR works in phases, and there are 8 phases of treatment. During your time in treatment, we are constantly working on helping you become aware of emotions, feelings, and thoughts, as well as body sensations that come up when painful experiences happen to you. This helps us link the symptoms you are experiencing now to the past experiences when they could have happened.  Through this exploration and awareness part, we often times find that there is an old memory that we can link to your current symptoms. 

When we locate the memory that has been associated with your current responses to life, we process the memory by using bilateral stimulation. So unlike talk therapy, you are quiet, while remaining aware of the old memory, and, while we are doing bilateral. During several rounds of bilateral processing, the memory starts to fade or change, or feel less emotionally charged. As this continues, more adaptive thoughts begin to form, and feelings become less intense, and your body calmer. As these new thoughts form, you will then start to see changes in your outward life. 

Throughout treatment we continuously examine your progress and not only process the old stuff, but also look at the future events that will require the different responses that you are learning during your therapy. 

If you are interested in learning more, call us today. 

For further reading, read “Getting Past Your Past” by Francine Shapiro.