What is EMDR?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) is an evidenced-based therapy created by Francine Shapiro over 25 years ago which has revolutionized Trauma Therapy worldwide. EMDR serves to process traumas individuals have lived with. Touted to be 87 percent effective with Vietnam Vets, it is a short-term therapy which serves to dissolve the negative cognitions (or negative self-beliefs) that accompany traumatic experiences. Clients who complain of Anxiety and Depression and who have also experienced Trauma, often believe that their negative self-talk and or beliefs are accurate. Not so! Neuroscience has come a long way in addressing these painful and traumatic thoughts, feelings, and memories.
How does EMDR work?
Simply put, EMDR utilizes bi-lateral stimulation, which evokes movement within your neurological system to travel from one part of your brain to another. This is done through your primary sense–your vision. Your eyes will travel from right to left and back much like when you are in the REM cycle of sleep or dreaming state.
Clients who suffer from trauma often hesitate to explore their trauma and or PTSD for fear that they will have to divulge the details of their traumatic histories. Shame is typically associated with traumas often irrationally so. EMDR is sensitive to such concerns. Clients are simply asked to identify the episodes they wish to address and communicate to the therapist simple “headlines” which serve to identify the incident of trauma. Negative Cognitions, emotions, and “headlines” are the essential elements that need be divulged in order to process the trauma. Identifying the emotions that are elicited as the client reflects back on the incident and their location within the client’s body are also a vital part of the process. The client is asked to identify the trauma, the emotions held in their body as they reflect upon the negative cognitions that they experience as they think upon the trauma, and to concentrate on the triad and follow the movement of the EMDR mechanism which provides moving light with their eyes. The movement of the clients eyes serves to simulate Rapid Eye Movement, the stage of sleep in which eyes travel to the right and the left serves to process the negative cognitions, negative emotions, and strong visual images seemingly locked in the mind’s eye. After these negative emotions, disturbing visual images, and negative emotions are digested, the clients are then invited to install positive cognitions in place of the negative cognitions through eye movements as done in the earlier process.
Clients generally require no more than six sessions, and the avoidance behavior, the nightmares, the despair, the negative self-talk, anxiety and depression that they have endured dissipates. EMDR literally dissolves away the trauma, affording the client a clear and healthy understanding of what transpired. EMDR is a marvelous modality for many, and most importantly it is effective and rapid! Clients no longer live under the beliefs that they were assaulted by in the apex of their trauma. Clients are returned to their pre-traumatic state, calm, hopeful, and ready to explore a PTSD-free future.
How do you know if you have PTSD?
Only a thorough assessment can really indicate the nature of your trauma, it may prove useful to come in for a consultation, but it safe to say that if you are suffering from repeated disturbing memories, thoughts, or images from the past, repeated disturbing dreams, avoiding thinking, and or talking or participating in activities or situations that remind you of a past trauma, you may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).