EMDR was developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Francine Shapiro. She noticed that when she was walking and looking back and forth, her troublesome thoughts became less distressing. She studied this further and found that with a certain protocol along with eye movements, trauma survivors were able to resolve their traumas in a relatively short period of time. Since then, many studies have been done that show how EMDR is effective with not only trauma, but also anxiety disorders, phobias, performance enhancement, and grief.
Until recently, these conditions were difficult and time-consuming to treat. EMDR is considered a powerful breakthrough therapy because of its simplicity and the fact that it can bring quick and lasting relief for most types of emotional distress.
How Does EMDR Work?
When disturbing experiences happen, they are stored in the brain with all the sights, sounds, thoughts, and feelings that accompany them. When a person is very upset, the brain seems unable to process the experience as it would normally. When this happens, images, sounds, and emotions related to the memory become "frozen in time." Thoughts of a traumatic event feel as painful as if they'd just occurred.
EMDR "unfreezes" these memories, causing them to move to the part of the brain that processes memory. As this occurs, the memory loses its emotional charge and becomes less distressing.
EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.
As a therapist trained in EMDR, I will first take a detailed history to assess whether you are a good candidate for EMDR treatment. I will then help you identify your goals for therapy and how you and I can attain those goals. We will work together to help you develop coping techniques. Once we have established a trusting relationship and I feel that you are ready, the EMDR session can begin.
What Happens After I Receive EMDR Therapy?
Once you are no longer suffering the effects of the trauma/incident, you will work on re-identifying yourself, identifying triggers, reviewing what you have learned, and work on strategies to prevent a return to your former state of mind. Total treatment could be as short as five sessions, could be incorporated into long term therapy, or anywhere in between. The length of treatment is dependent on your particular symptoms and goals of therapy.
Is EMDR Right For Me?
(If you answer yes to any of these questions below, EMDR may be a great option for you).
1. Are you losing productivity at home or work due to anxiety?
2. Are you still feeling depressed or lonely, despite the practice of positive thinking?
3. Are you angry all the time and don't know why?
4. Do you have phobias limiting your life, despite your best efforts to overcome them?
5. Are you frustrated that the "real you" is buried by hair-trigger, out of control emotions?
6. Have you been in therapy "forever", wrestling with the same old problems?
7. Have you tried cognitive therapies only to find your emotions still ruling your life?
8. Do you want to calm the chaos of self-defeating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors?
9. Do you want to get to the root cause of chronic symptoms?
10. Do you want to reduce stress and its negative impact on your physical health?