What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing or EMDR is an extensively researched form of psychotherapy that enables people to heal from symptoms and emotional distress that are a result from disturbing past life experience (aka trauma). It is an integrative approach that involves elements of CBT, mindfulness and somatic based therapy. It has also shown to be effective with anxiety, phobias, self esteem issues, addiction and many other issues.
Another way to put it is disturbing memories get “locked up” in the brain causing symptoms like anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, addiction or relational issues. Clients seem to like this definition as they can usually relate to this idea of memories feeling locked, stuck or fragmented.
How does it work?
EMDR uses bi-lateral stimulation (BLS) to help “unlock” traumatic material and help the brain heal itself. BLS can include eye movements, alternate tapping on your thighs, or alternating audio in your headphones. It is YOUR brain doing the healing and YOU are in control throughout the whole process; I am largely just holding a safe space while your brain does the work.
Oh so it’s like hypnosis?
Kind of… the key difference here is that EMDR focuses on dual attention where hypnosis involves more of an altered relaxed state. Dual attention can be best described as one foot in the past and one foot in the present.
Oh so we don’t dive into my worst memories right away?
NO. Definitely not. We will take at the very least a few sessions getting to know each other, deciding which memories to target for processing, and work on strengthening your resources.
Strengthen my Resources?
We will make sure that “one foot in the present” is strong before we dip into your past. This will involve guided imagery, mindfulness exercises combined with BLS to help tap in the skill. Building a calm/safe space, focusing on a time where you’ve mastered a skill or practicing grounding can all be considered resources. This phase will help introduce you to what EMDR is and give you some time to practice the BLS before processing traumatic memories.
I have more questions about EMDR…
Feel free to schedule a phone consultation with me to see if EMDR could be a helpful modality for you. You can also visit EMDRIA if you’re curious about learning more. I’m also happy to field any further questions you have in our free consult together.