What Is EMDR Therapy?
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is an effective treatment for trauma and trauma-related disorders, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). EMDR treatment helps individuals make a mind-body connection when they feel stuck with painful memories or emotions that prevent them from moving forward in their lives. EMDR can therefore be utilized to treat other mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.
EMDR is grounded in the belief that the body is capable of healing itself. By focusing on how thoughts and experiences from the past show up in the body, EMDR offers a simple yet beneficial technique to lessen the emotional charge one feels when thinking about certain traumatic past experiences. Once the body’s reaction to the memory dissipates, the client can finally move past the pain and begin to heal.
Through its framework of mental rehearsal, EMDR applies the same therapeutic model used to address past events to project more favorable future outcomes. EMDR treatment helps individuals form an idea of the future that makes it more achievable in reaching goals and manifesting the desired result.
How Effective is EMDR?
EMDR therapy can be used to reframe a one-time traumatic event—such as an auto accident or living through an earthquake—or to revisit negative beliefs about one’s self that were ingrained when they experienced childhood trauma. Research has shown that people who suffer from various mental health disorders, including trauma, PTSD, depression, and anxiety, found EMDR to be an effective treatment for reducing their symptoms.
The American Psychiatric Association has ranked EMDR with the same status as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as an effective treatment for PTSD. The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have also endorsed EMDR therapy as effective for treating PTSD and Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and included it in their Patients Guide.
We use EMDR in our work with clients in combination with other modalities such as (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and art therapy. Using these trauma-informed modalities together can help clients achieve success by gaining a deeper understanding of themselves through an examination of their thoughts, beliefs, and actions. We want our clients to feel in control of their lives and reach their full potential.
How Does EMDR Therapy Work?
To explain how EMDR works specifically, it’s helpful to understand that memories are stored in the body—not unlike a filing cabinet. Sometimes a particularly traumatic memory with a high emotional charge gets misfiled, causing distress in the body before the brain can even comprehend what is going on.
During an EMDR session, a client will be asked to revisit one of these troublesome memories and, through a process of steps, be coached to reframe it differently. The EMDR process helps resolve traumatic memories by accessing and rewiring neural networks in the brain. This rewiring will lessen its emotional charge while simultaneously instilling more positive beliefs and insights related to that memory. Eventually, the memory will get filed away in the “filing cabinet” the way that it should.
EMDR is a tool that elevates the client to a higher level of self-awareness by helping them connect the dots. With EMDR treatment, clients will process their thoughts and feelings, all the while noticing how they show up in the body. We teach clients the skills and tools to exercise mindfulness, such as meditation and journaling, as they move throughout their day with intention.
By supporting their curiosity for deeper understanding, EMDR allows our clients to feel more present and in charge so that they reach a sense of fulfillment, acceptance, and peace.
Who Can Benefit From EMDR?
We find that many of our clients have seen beneficial results after EMDR treatment. Whether they need to process unresolved trauma or suffer from a disorder like social anxiety, EMDR helps individuals acknowledge how their thoughts can manifest in unhealthy ways within the body. Once this is understood, they can learn how to neutralize and reframe these thoughts so they no longer affect them physically.
The mental rehearsal aspect of EMDR is helpful for anyone who suffers from anxiety. A client can visualize a scenario ahead of time and focus on how they would like to feel when that stressful situation eventually unfolds. This rehearsal helps them adjust their anticipation from a sense of worry to one of empowerment.
What Clients Can Expect After EMDR Therapy
After EMDR treatment, our clients learn to exercise self-awareness and become better observers of themselves. They will be poised to form healthier relationships and to adjust their way of thinking for the best outcome.
EMDR counseling can help clients feel hopeful again, excited again, motivated again, and determined again. Our goal is to guide everyone we work with to realize that their experience of life can be profoundly different when their thoughts and feelings change.
Join The Experience
EMDR therapy can help you reframe traumatic memories so you can envision a brighter future for yourself. For more information, please click on our Join The Experience link. You will receive an email confirmation about the next steps in the process for beginning your journey to wholeness.