What is EMDR Therapy?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR is a psychotherapy treatment designed to help alleviate the symptoms and distress that result from distressing life experiences or trauma. It is a bit different than traditional “talk therapy” in that it is more structured and it uses eye movements as a central part of the treatment.
EMDR has proven to be a successful treatment for a variety of issues including:
Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias
Grief and loss
How does EMDR work?
The central idea behind EMDR is that sometimes memories from disturbing or traumatic events can get stored in the brain without being fully processed.
When the memories are not fully processed, they instead can be stored along with vivid images, sounds, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations that can show up when you are reminded of the disturbing experience. Your nervous system responds like you are reliving the experience, which leaves you feeling overwhelmed or distressed.
EMDR therapy involves using alternating eye movements (moving your eyes back and forth), to help activate the brain’s natural ability to reprocess the experience. This is similar to what happens during REM or dream sleep, which is why you can sometimes wake up feeling differently about experiences from the day before that were still upsetting when you went to sleep.
After some initial preparation, I guide you through several sets of eye movements while asking you to focus in on memories, sights, sounds, feelings, thoughts and negative beliefs that developed as a result of the experience. You will be asked to share what you notice comes to mind after each set of eye movements and you may experience shifts in images, sensation, thoughts, and emotions through the process. This process allows your brain to reprocess the memories and it is repeated until the memories become less disturbing.
After the reprocessing is complete, the memories will be just like memories for most experiences, without the feelings of overwhelm and distress.
How long will it take for me to feel better?
The length of time needed for this treatment is highly variable. EMDR can provide relatively quick symptom relief in some cases, but in cases when there has been exposure to numerous and/or repeated traumatic incidents, the process can take longer.
Does EMDR work for everyone?
EMDR is a powerful treatment for many, but may not be the right treatment for everyone. I do a thorough assessment and discuss the process with you in detail prior to beginning the work to help to determine if this treatment is a good fit for you. If EMDR is not a good fit for you, I offer more traditional therapy that has also been effective for symptom relief.
I’ve found that this kind of work can yield incredible results: it can improve the way you feel about yourself, reduce anxiety and depression, help you take back control of your life and feel more empowered, improve your outlook, improve relationships, and in turn, improve the quality of your life.
What’s my next step?
If you are ready to try a different approach for finding relief from anxiety, depression, or the impacts of trauma, feel free to contact me using the links below. I provide a free initial phone consultation to give you a chance to ask any questions that you may have and to get a sense of who I am and what it's like to work with me. I look forward to talking with you.