When traumatic events (past or present) occur, the brain is sometimes unable to communicate in a way that processes the situation fully. These traumatic events are different for every person and can include but are not limited to abuse, car accidents, wartime events, natural disasters, traumatic deaths, etc. EMDR has also been helpful for fears, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and other negative core beliefs we may have about ourselves. The impact of these memories can cause depression, anxiety, relationship conflicts, intimacy difficulties, poor self-esteem, and many other issues that cause us to react to situations based on what we went through in the past. EMDR helps remove the charged emotions to a specific memory and things that trigger it, so that we may remember what happened with less distress and live a more trigger free life.
EMDR is different from other forms of counseling that you may have had in the past. First, I will spend time building rapport, listening to your concerns and history, and developing a treatment plan. If you are a good fit for EMDR and you decide to participate, I will help you strengthen positive and calming resources to use through EMDR and in everyday life. It is important to me that you feel safe.
Part of the EMDR process will include bilateral stimulation, which involves stimulating both hemispheres of the brain in hopes that they will communicate better and process through the incident. Bilateral stimulation can occur through the client following my fingers with eye movements, alternating audio tunes, or alternating hand buzzers. With bilateral stimulation and the calming resources we have created, you will be able to process through the memory and existing triggers. I will ask you for brief feedback but you will not be instructed to go in depth about the actual event, as other trauma related therapies require (i.e. flooding or talk therapy based counseling). This can help the client feel safer since they are not required to relive the experience and will enable the brain to continue processing.
EMDR also works very well with children and adolescents and can be requested as part of the therapeutic plan, if parents are interested. Creative alternatives to the normal bilateral stimulation can be incorporated with children such as puppets, dancing, stories, etc.
Many clients have reported that they now can remember the event with less stress and emotion. Some clients have expressed a decrease in dreams related to the event and less intrusive thoughts. Through EMDR, the client can utilize the brain’s own healing mechanisms to process these painful events.
EMDR is not hypnosis or a form of meditation. It does not conflict with Biblical truth. If the client desires it, we can pray before and/or after sessions. We also often look for the truth that Jesus is showing us in the event we are working on.
EMDR is recognized as an effective treatment for trauma related problems by many US and International accrediting organizations. Among them are:
-The American Psychiatric Association
-The VA and Department of Defense
-World Health Organization
I encourage you to check out some websites or other material on EMDR:
Recommended book: Getting Past Your Past by Francine Shapiro, PhD