Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a therapeutic protocol used in the treatment of mental and emotional trauma. It has been widely praised in the United States and is currently used by agencies such as the American Psychiatric Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Those suffering from PTSD caused by major traumas such as sexual or physical assault, combat experiences, accidents or the sudden death of a loved can benefit from EMDR therapy. Sessions work to alleviate PTSD symptoms like flashbacks and nightmares, angry outbursts, difficulties sleeping and concentrating, and feelings of depression and isolation.
Recent research has pointed to the fact that PTSD can also result from less dramatic life events, such as hurtful experiences during childhood. In some cases, these can cause even more symptoms of PTSD than major traumas like combat or terrorist attacks.
In either case, once trauma has been experienced, there is a disruption in how the brain processes information. In a “normal” brain that has not experienced a shocking event, processing systems digest information about what has been experienced and make appropriate connections. Those reactions to the event that are no longer useful, any emotions or physical sensations, are released.
However, when an individual experiences a traumatic event, this processing system is disrupted and the negative memories and emotions, as well as physical sensations and beliefs, are stored in the brain. These stored traumatic interpretations mingle with current events to color them negatively. In short, the past becomes the present.
The Benefit of EMDR Therapy
EMDR is an effective protocol to treat these unprocessed past memories that are poisoning the present. EMDR is able to remove the anxiety, fear and sadness that cause individuals to avoid or overreact to situations.
EMDR techniques allow individuals to identify early memories that are the root of their problems and change their emotions, thoughts, and even physical sensations surrounding them. These same techniques can also help people achieve desired goals by understanding why they do what they do and how they can manage life and their own behaviors better.
EMDR is used to treat a variety of issues including:
- Panic attacks
- Complicated grief
- Dissociative disorders
- Disturbing memories
- Pain disorders
- Performance anxiety
- Stress reduction
- Sexual and/or Physical abuse
- Body dysmorphic disorders
- Personality Disorders
- Single Incident Traumas (ie car accident, sexual assault,…)
If you or a loved one suffer from any of the above and believe you may benefit from EMDR, please contact me. I would be happy to discuss how I and this particular therapy approach might help.