Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic modality that is designed to help people heal from traumatic events. EMDR has been shown to complement other treatments and talk therapy by helping people process their trauma and heal more quickly.
It’s natural for a traumatic event to trigger our brains’ fight or flight response and attempt to repress memories of the event. This creates a mental block that is designed to protect us from the event but it also makes it difficult to process and move forward. EMDR is a process of unblocking and reframing those memories. It’s similar to a splinter in your finger. For the wound to heal, you need to remove the splinter.
EMDR has been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, and the Department of Defense as an effective form of trauma treatment for people who have been diagnosed with PTSD.
EMDR is effective in treating:
- Substance Use Disorders
There are eight components of EMDR treatment and no two clients have identical treatment experiences. EMDR is not always a linear process so you might move through some steps slowly or revisit steps.
- Discovery and treatment planning
- You’ll speak to your EMDR therapist and talk through current issues, triggers, and distressing memories. You’ll identify the event that you will work through in your EMDR sessions.
- Get to know your therapist and walk through the process so you know what to expect.
- You will identify an emotion that you associate with the event and work with your therapist to choose a statement that opposes the existing emotion.
- Use bilateral stimulation like tapping or eye movement to engage your lower brainstem while you think about the triggering event.
- Through this stimulation, you will reprocess this memory and install peaceful and safe thoughts around the triggering event.
- Body scan
- After reframing the traumatic event, you will think about the trigger and identify any areas of your body where you feel tension. Wherever you still hold tension is where we will focus the next session of EMDR.
- Each session, we check in with you to make sure you feel more peaceful than when you started. If it takes several sessions to reframe a traumatic event, your EMDR therapist will work with you to develop self-soothing techniques to help you cope in between sessions.
- Each new session starts with a reevaluation. You and your therapist will talk through your progress and find areas that need more attention.
EMDR is a great companion to other forms of therapy because it helps you unblock traumatic events and heal more quickly and thoroughly.