Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a comprehensive psychotherapy approach. The eight-phase process is used to desensitize anxiety that occurs after a traumatic event. Memories are reprocessed so they are more adaptive and less bothersome when recalled. EMDR therapy has been extensively researched and is widely recognized as an effective form of treatment.
After trauma occurs—a one-time event or ongoing experience—strong negative feelings block cognitive processing, and maladaptive information is stored in the brain. For example, a victim of a violent act feels they are to blame for the traumatic event despite having a general understanding that the attacker is truly responsible. The memory is then stored unprocessed. Consequently, when the trauma victim thinks about the event, they may experience flashbacks that cause a feeling of imminent, present danger. The victim may experience intense physical sensations, strong emotions, and anxiety.
Memories are linked in a way that affects future reactions. A child whom is abused by a parent will likely have difficulties trusting people. The child associates trust and vulnerability with hurt and pain and may withdraw from others or create defenses to feel protected.
EMDR therapy reprocesses memories so they are no longer linked. The anxiety from the trauma decreases and more adaptive reactions and outlooks result. The memories are still stored, but they are more fully-processed. The emotional distress attached to the memories is desensitized as a result. New insights, changes in memories, or new associations are typically made as well. Clients are better able to focus and can “let go” of the pain associated with and caused by trauma.
The benefits and results from EMDR therapy are far-reaching and life-changing. The treatment is used for clients who suffer with many conditions. The conditions may include:
My training in EMDR helps clients assuage the negative effects of these and other distressing life challenges. Please contact me to set up a consultation to determine if EMDR therapy might be appropriate for you.