Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has been around since the 1980’s. There have been many research studies on treating symptoms of PTSD, substance abuse, anxiety, phobias, etc. and the lasting effects of EMDR. Research that proves the efficacy of this therapy can be found at emdria.org and emdr.com.
When I first heard of EMDR in my graduate program, I was in disbelief that this type of treatment would work and would lead to lasting effects. It is a brief therapy that has long-term effects as long as there is not another trauma. This sounded way too good to be true! It was when I witnessed EMDR in action in 2008 that I became a true believer in EMDR and decided to become trained as an EMDR therapist. 7 years later, I use EMDR on the majority of my clients to help them heal from trauma.
EMDR works by activating both hemispheres of the brain at the same time through bilateral stimulation. Typically, people are right or left side dominant but with EMDR, both hemispheres are working at the same capacity and speed. This allows for rapid processing in the brain. This connection allows trauma to be identified in the brain by highlighting the affected trauma network. It then rapidly clears out the trauma, moving it from being stuck in emotional mind to processing into logical mind.
EMDR does not brainwash people into forgetting the trauma, or being happy about the trauma. It allows people to not continue to feel the trauma as if it just happened. The example I use is if you have ever had surgery, you may remember waking up and being in a lot of pain. The difference now is that you don’t feel the pain. You remember that it was there, but that pain is not there now.
EMDR is very similar! Once reprocessing and healing are complete; you may look back on the trauma(s) and remember that it was painful but the pain is no longer there. Along with the pain being gone, so are all those negative thoughts about yourself and the world around you. Instead, you find positive beliefs and positive emotions.
EMDR works on major traumas, smaller traumas, emotions and thoughts that seem irrational and are bothersome. It also works on phobias, panic attacks, anxiety, and addiction. Much of my EMDR work is focused on helping people heal from negative beliefs about themselves that have been created through many years of negative experiences.
There is some work that is done on major traumas, but most people are victims or repeated negative experiences that imprint a negative message about themselves, like “I’m bad, I’m unlovable, I’m a failure, and I’m not good enough”. Once reprocessing is complete, these beliefs no longer exist. It is such a rewarding experience to see clients heal themselves through EMDR and feel good!
If you or someone you know would benefit from EMDR therapy, please share this article with them. If you’d like to contact us directly to schedule an appointment to learn more, please click here. We’d love to hear from you!
This post was written by Minon Maier – LMFT