What You Need to Know About EMDR In a Nutshell

Are you wrestling with past trouble, trauma, or distress that makes it difficult to connect with others and feel safe?

The lasting effects of trauma both emotionally and physically can be a challenge to overcome and heal from.

Many people attempt to move past such experiences by avoiding or burying the pain of the past. Some retreat into self-limiting beliefs and behaviors that they feel will protect them from further harm. Others stay stuck unable to really move forward at all and live their lives fully with meaning and joy.

To heal from trauma, traditional talk-based therapy is not always the best fit for lasting recovery. Fortunately, there are other options to help you move forward. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), is one such treatment possibility that we now offer at Spectrum Connections Therapy.

What is EMDR?

Research suggests that EMDR works in a similar manner to the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. In this state of deep sleep, we know that the brain and body innately repair themselves. In an EMDR session, you would be guided gently by a trained professional to recall a distressing past experience. The aim of EMDR treatment is to reprocess that memory safely and positively. This is important so that you are not continually harmed by the stuck, distressing memory, which may be unduly influenced by the emotional pain attached to it and any negative beliefs that resulted from the traumatic experience. EMDR is an evidence-based treatment approach, backed and supported by decades of well-established research supporting its effectiveness in healing trauma.

Treatment, in a nutshell, includes your EMDR therapist initiating a standardized therapy process by directing a series of eye movements, or bilateral stimulation (BLS) techniques such as self-tapping or tones as you recall a specific, harmful past experience. The series of eye movements or BLS is designed to help transform your emotional and physical responses to traumatic thoughts and memories into ones of safety and feelings of calmness. 

EMDR creator and developer Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., explains it this way:

“Specific procedures are used to help clients maintain a sense of control during memory work as the therapist guides their focus of attention. They need only focus briefly on the disturbing memory during the processing while engaged in the bilateral stimulation (eye movements, taps, or tones) as the internal associations are made. The client’s brain makes the needed links as new emotions, sensations, beliefs, and memories emerge. All the work is done during the therapy sessions. It is not necessary for the client to describe the memory in detail, and no homework is used.”

EMDR therapy has become widely accepted and practiced by professionals worldwide and by major organizations. Essentially, the treatment employs an eight-step process to initiate healing that your EMDR trained therapist will guide you through.

What are the advantages of EMDR?

EMDR is a relatively brief therapy

One of the most significant benefits of EMDR relates to the normal duration of treatment. Talk therapy is generally a slower process. EMDR, on the other hand, is designed to be a shorter and more straightforward process.

Some research suggests that if you struggle to recover from a single traumatic event, you can be relieved of reactivity and mental disturbance in as few as three 90-minute treatment sessions. Fewer sessions are often attractive to people just starting to ease into therapy. This concise form of therapy may increase the likelihood of successful treatment completion for those wary of therapy as well.

EMDR is a complete and valid restorative process

The EMDR Network notes the following:

“The goal of EMDR therapy is to process completely the experiences that are causing problems and to include new ones that are needed for full health. “Processing” does not mean talking about it. “Processing,” means setting up a learning state that will allow experiences that are causing problems to be “digested” and stored appropriately in your brain. That means that what is useful to you from an experience will be learned, and stored with appropriate emotions in your brain, and be able to guide you in positive ways in the future.”  

Essentially, EMDR allows you the opportunity to face your fears and feelings directly, specifically, and fully. You are also allowed the opportunity to deal with the disruptive thoughts and discomfort from a safe distance. 

EMDR is an empowering procedure

Additionally, if you elect to participate in EMDR sessions, you will likely feel more emotionally receptive and aware. You remain awake and conscious, EMDR is not mind-control. Moreover, if you run into any roadblocks, you can always schedule another session. You are in control of the treatment and can pause at any time to use strategies to promote safety and well-being. Your EMDR therapist will make sure you are appropriately skilled in taking care of yourself during EMDR before starting the full treatment.

EMDR allows you to actively and gainfully improve your sense of self-control and personal perspective. As a result, you can make better decisions, set better boundaries, and meaningfully assess your own needs. 

Take the Next Step…

You deserve to live a life free from stuck trauma of any kind. Whether you suffered social trauma, medical trauma, childhood trauma, etc, you have a right to recover and fully heal. With EMDR, you can obtain clarity and sustainable peace of mind. 

Finally, EMDR is an important tool for navigating trauma, anxiety, unhelpful beliefs, or other mental health issues. With the help of a trained therapist, you can heal and loosen the grip the past has on your perception of yourself and others. I’m here to help you make the changes you long to make. Please read more about individual therapy and reach out for a consultation soon.

Be well,

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