EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a type of therapy that helps you heal from traumatic life experiences by removing the power of the memories associated with those experiences.
What Does EMDR Look Like?
When you cut your hand, millions of cells rush to the cut to begin healing the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it doesn’t allow the wound to heal. Healing only takes place when the block is removed.
Similarly, this is how our brains work when healing from traumatic experiences and memories. If there is a memory that keeps repeating itself, or an experience that is left unresolved, it is difficult for our mental health to return to normal.
EMDR uses a three-point focus on the past, present, and future to metaphorically remove the ‘foreign object’, or the irritating memory, and the brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.
EMDR is different from other therapy models because you don’t have to talk about the traumatic memory in detail or complete homework in between sessions each week. A therapist may ask you to feel emotions or to think of certain experiences, but describing and talking about them is not always necessary. Instead, EMDR allows your brain to heal using its own processing power.
How Does EMDR Work?
Throughout our lives, our brains work to connect experiences with emotions. This is how we learn to stay away from danger, like burning our hand on the stove. Our mouths water when we smell popcorn, our favorite song reminds us of a road trip with our friends, and the sound of jingle bells bring comfort during the winter season. These are all examples of the many ways our brain creates connections in our day-to-day life.
Unfortunately, traumatic experiences are no exception to the connections in our brain and they can carry emotions with them as well. One example may be a fear of kittens because you were scratched by one as a child.
Sometimes these connections are not fair. You may one day meet a kitten who is gentle and sweet, yet, because of the connection that has been made in your brain, the gentle, sweet kitten still feels very scary.
EMDR encourages you to feel the emotion that is connected to the experience, and allows your brain to re-evaluate whether or not that emotional connection is fair. Feeling fear toward the kitten that scratched us is a valid physical response, however, should we feel afraid of all kittens? EMDR provides a space for your brain to answer that question and separate the connections when necessary.
Over time, you will feel more in-control of your immediate responses to the things around you and the strong emotions that are connected to traumatic experiences will begin to lower in intensity.
Is EMDR Effective?
EMDR is an evidence-based, heavily researched therapy model. It is effective in treating PTSD, Trauma, Anxiety, and many others.
It is endorsed and used by many international organizations including the following:
- The National Library of Medicine
- U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs
- U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- American Psychiatric Association
- American Psychological Association
- And other national and international organizations
How Do I Know if EMDR Will Work For Me?
Our goal as a clinic is to help each client and their family deeply heal and connect with each other.
Our team of qualified therapists are trained to use a variety of different data-driven and evidence-based treatment models. In your first few meetings with a therapist, they will work with you to determine which of these models fits best with your lifestyle and the symptoms you are experiencing.
EMDR is not for everyone, but for those who need it, it is an incredibly powerful tool. Schedule an appointment with our clinic today to determine if it is the right treatment model for you.