What is EMDR?
EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
EMDR is an entire treatment approach that includes set standards and protocols; it is not just a technique. I utilize EMDR in my approach because it is effective in helping people become stabilized and regulated. EMDR is also a good approach for deeper issues because it supports real lasting change. But how do eye movements connect with achieving real change in your life?
How EMDR was Developed
The psychologist who discovered this approach in 1989 noticed that when her eyes went back and forth several times in a row, her disturbing memories disappeared. Dr. Francine Shapiro went on to establish a worldwide network of therapists and researchers who have refined this technique (called bi-lateral stimulation which includes other forms besides eye movements) to help millions of people reduce the negative effects of traumatic experiences on their lives. (see the Traumas vs Disturbing Life Experiences page). Much research has now been completed demonstrating how effective EMDR can be with many problems. This is an important reason why I utilize this approach: it has been shown to be scientifically valid.
How EMDR Works
The positive impact of EMDR has to do with the stimulation of both hemispheres of the brain in an alternating fashion. Back and forth eye movements ‘wake up’ targeted traumatic memories that have been stored in a haphazard fashion in the brain. These memories can then to be integrated in a more positive way into a person’s life story. The person can make sense of even very painful things they have experienced. They often stop experiencing negative effects of these events like anxiety and anger. The person eventually feels free of the burden of the negative emotions, thoughts, behavior, and body sensations that have seemed ‘in charge’ for so long. Integration is the name of the game.
Think of all the ways that disturbing memories influence behavior through real-life triggers: feeling afraid when we encounter a certain family member, over-reacting with anger when our child is oppositional, avoiding a certain intersection because of a memory of the car accident we had there, and so on. EMDR can be effective with single overwhelming incidents such as a motor vehicle accident, a natural disaster, witnessing violence, as well as intense grief over the death of a loved one. Other experiences that respond to EMDR can include combat trauma, being the victim of violence, repetitive harsh treatment, even being bullied on the playground.
How I Use EMDR in Therapy
I introduce EMDR to my clients in a systematic, unhurried fashion. We create the foundation first by strengthening your positive resources, practicing awareness skills such as breathing and relaxation, and understanding your life situation so we know when it’s the right time to begin the EMDR process. You’ll have practice with the bi-lateral stimulation techniques before we target your first disturbing memory. You will become a pro at EMDR in no time. I look forward to helping you with EMDR!
I am an EMDR certified clinician. What that means is that in addition to the 4-day training and required consultation that enables me to be a Level II clinician, I hired an individual consultant and treated a minimum of 25 additional clients for at least 50 EMDR sessions to obtain my EMDR certification status. I am also required to attend EMDR trainings and conferences to keep up my certification. I continue to hire a Certified EMDR Consultant twice monthly for my EMDR clients. That is important for you to know as that means that I take your treatment seriously enough to keep refining my EMDR skills. You are what it’s all about.
Here’s a list of some of the symptoms and conditions that EMDR can help:
- Panic attacks
- Specific fears and phobias
- Childhood abuse and neglect
- The symptoms of traumatic brain injury