WHO CAN EMDR HELP?
EMDR can help all people struggling with a wide range of issues. From getting mentally untuck, to physical pain, to deep trauma - an EMDR therapist can help!
Trauma and PTSD
Phobias (i.e. airplanes, animals, tight spaces)
Sexual, physical, and emotional abuse recovery
Phantom limb pain
Adjusting to chronic illness
PMS symptoms and PMDD
WHAT IS EMDR?
A SIMPLE EXPLANATION
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a type of therapy that enables you to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Many assume that they are stuck with this, or that it will take a very long time to heal. When you cut your hand, your body knows how to heal the wound. If a foreign object constantly irritates that wound, your body will continue to struggle to heal that until the object is removed. In a similar way, our brains need assistance in removing blocks that are not allowing the brain to heal itself. EMDR will help you remove mental blocks to engage your natural healing process.
Our brain works hard to protect us and grow us. When disturbing things happen to us, our brain tries to organize the event and understand it. Sometimes, things get stored in a way that feels "stuck" - much like a foreign object in a wound. This can cause us to feel that we are not functioning the way we would like.
TRY THIS ANALOGY...
Let's say you are packing up your house for a big move. You label your boxes... "Dishes. Books. Towels." You turn some music on and get to packing up the towels for the towel box, the dishes for the dishes box, and so on. This is how your brain likes to process information.
Now let's say your house is on fire and you have to try and pack up these boxes. My guess is that you will not have as much time to put your towels in the towel box. You're probably going to be putting the most important things in any box you find, and try to get out of there! This is how your brain can store information under stress or during trauma.
EMDR helps our brain reorganize and repack what happens, so it no longer feels cluttered and scary.
YOUR BRAIN WANTS YOU TO HEAL
With the help of EMDR, you can move painful memories that feel stuck into the part of the brain that will help you move on and heal. Your therapist will help you identify memories and beliefs that are impacting your life in a negative way today. Your therapist will then guide you through the session, inviting your brain to heal itself. By focusing on trauma of the past, troubles in the present, or anxiety about the future, your therapist will help you activate your brain's information processes.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A SESSION
You and your therapist will choose a treatment plan together. After some information gathering, you will be asked to think of a disturbing memory and simply notice what happens without judgment. Meanwhile, your therapist will guide you in "BLS" or bilateral stimulation. This is a fancy phrase that basically means simultaneous left and right brain stimulation. The most common way this is done is through eye movements, where the therapist will ask you to follow their fingers left and right. This sounds a little strange, but it actually mimics REM sleep! We know that in REM, we are reprocessing information from the day or days before. In a similar way, you will be reprocessing old memories. Your therapist may also use tapping back and forth from the left to right hand, or headphones that sound a quiet beep between your left and right ears. These are all types of "BLS". Every 30 seconds, or so, your therapist will pause to ask you what you are noticing. Some clients notice emotions, body sensations, memories, or even intense relaxation. There is no limit to what can happen, as your brain is really doing the work for you! During the session, you are in control the whole time. Your therapist will never force you to continue if you feel tired or overwhelmed.
EMDR THERAPY ONLINE
Yep - you read that right! I love learning how we can better combine therapy and technology, and conducting EMDR sessions online is on the cutting edge of this. Through a video platform (that is HIPPA compliant AKA ultra secure), you can partake in EMDR therapy right from the comfort of your own home. Some say they prefer online therapy because they’re able to avoid traffic/parking, but mostly because they feel at ease being able to participate in therapy without having to leave. If you want to learn more about online therapy, click here!
STUDIES SHOW IT REALLY WORKS
Hundreds of studies have been done proving that EMDR really works, and it works fast. For a list of studies, take a look here. Because of this, it is known as an EBP (Evidence Based Practice). Take a look at an article written in the New York Times by the founder of EMDR here. EMDR has become one of the top treatment options for posttraumatic stress disorder and several other mental health challenges.