EMDR Therapy is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. After a full assessment, the client is prompted to recall certain details of the troubling event while bilateral stimulation (right/left eye movement, sound or tactile stimulation) takes place. This repeatedly activates the opposite sides of the brain releasing emotional experiences that are stuck in the brain and nervous system.
How does it work?
When a person feels gravely threatened or in danger, the brain cannot process information as it normally would. One traumatic moment becomes 'frozen' in time in the mid brain, and when it is remembered it may feel as if it is actually happening, because the images, sounds and feelings have not changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way s/he relates to others. What kind of events can lead to the brain holding information in this way? Events in which we feel our life is in danger, such as car accidents, rape, home invasions or fights; or, experiences in childhood such as sexual, physical, emotional or verbal abuse; repeated occurrences of invalidation such as growing up as a racial or sexual minority, in poverty, or with caregivers that could not sufficiently attune to what we needed. EMDR targets these traumatic memories. The process appears to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information, we hypothesize, by moving the location of where the information is stored in the brain. (See 'What happens in an EMDR session' below.) Following a successful EMDR session, normal information processing is resumed, so that you still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR Therapy appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, yielding rapid and effective results.
Is EMDR Therapy safe?
EMDR Therapy has been extensively researched, and has been found effective by the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense and many other international health and governmental agencies. Additionally, the current treatment guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies designate EMDR as effective in the treatment of trauma. Approximately 20 controlled studies (more studies than all the other sorts of trauma treatment combined) have investigated the effects of EMDR Therapy, consistently showing that EMDR effectively decreases or eliminates the symptoms of PTSD and other associated symptoms. It is important that EMDR Therapy is administered by a fully trained professional.
Is EMDR Therapy painful?
The EMDR process can bring up strong emotions and sensations during a session. This is desirable, as the technique works on the negative aspects of a memory. The re-experiencing of the memory can be unpleasant but is brief and will reduce or disappear once the process is complete. Relief occurs quickly and for many clients, permanently. It is important to mention that I work diligently to create an
What happens during an EMDR Therapy session?
An EMDR therapist supports the client in their healing process on a journey to release past trauma, as EMDR Therapy assists the brain with its natural healing process. After an assessment, and building alliance with a client, the therapist can begin EMDR Therapy. During session, the therapist and client identify troubling memories and the body sensations, emotions, images and negative beliefs that accompany them. As these surface, bilateral stimulations along with verbal cues are used by the therapist to reprocess the memory, releasing the accompanying emotions. This continues until the emotions become neutral and the event is reassociated with different beliefs.
I always take a sensitive, paced approach, using techniques that support and contain. I also give my clients resources and tools to access as a support during and in between sessions. I employ a client-centered, attachment-focused approach.
How many sessions will I need?
This is impossible to determine prior to treatment. EMDR Therapy is not a one session cure all. The quickest processing tends to be in single incident adult trauma in a client with no trauma history. Repeated occurrences of trauma, especially if unresolved from childhood will take longer, sometimes significantly so.