What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which is far too complicated to say, so we stick with EMDR!  It is a therapy developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1980's and has been proven to be one of the most effective interventions to treat trauma and rewrite negative beliefs.  EMDR processes trauma, anxiety, negative beliefs much more quickly than traditional talk therapy and with longer lasting effects.  Many people can start a session feeling completely triggered and distressed by an incident, and after 60 minutes of EMDR leave with the incident not bothering them at all.


How can EMDR Help?

EMDR has been proven to minimize the ongoing impact of traumatic experiences by helping the brain reprocess and store the memories in a different way.  EMDR activates and nurtures your brain's own powerful healing processes to peel off the emotional and physical memories, rewrite the negative beliefs built from those memories, and store the helpful lessons or positive beliefs that can be taken from those experiences.



What does EMDR Look Like?

EMDR is very different from talk therapy and it may seem strange at first.  But, remember, it is extremely effective.  Your therapist will initially take time to develop the trusting relationship with you and to establish effective coping strategies.  While EMDR works quickly and well, it can also be intense and it is essential that you have the strategies to regulate any complex or difficult emotions that might arise.  This phase of EMDR may take a few weeks, few months, or even a year or more.  When the relationship and emotion regulation skills are established thoroughly, your therapist and you will develop the roadmap of past traumatic experiences, present triggers, and future desired responses that will be processed using EMDR.  Then, you will begin to reprocess the past memories one at a time by calling up the memory, being mindful of your emotions, beliefs, and physical sensations, and following your therapists directions to look back and forth from one side to the next with your eyes only.  We know it sounds weird, but it works!  After a while, you'll be coached to stop, take a breathe, and share the headlines of what you notice.  It's as simple, and as complex, as that. 

What is trauma?

When we think of trauma, we think of Big T trauma and little t trauma.  Big T trauma consists of abuse, assault, combat, illness, accidents, anything that feels life threatening or horrifying.  Little t trauma are those incidents which might not feel as "big" as Big T trauma, but are still hurtful and incite negative beliefs about ourselves or the world around us.  Our brains process and store traumatic memories differently than other memories, resulting in the likelihood that we will feel similar emotions and physical sensations as we did during the event whenever the mere memory of the experience is triggered.


How does EMDR work?

EMDR replicates the brain's own natural healing processes by mimicking the eye movement common to the REM stage of sleep.  This stage of sleep is the time when our eyes move back and forth rapidly and when we dream.  It is the time when our brain processes the events of the day and decides how to file these events away into our memory for future reference.  When an event is too traumatic, this process gets blocked and the memories are stored in unhelpful ways.  EMDR uses eye movement, tapping, or sounds to engage both hemispheres of the brain while processing traumatic events.  This allows your brain to store the memories in more helpful ways.


Want to Learn More or Schedule an Intake for EMDR?

Click on the link below, complete the form, and Anne will get back to you to schedule your EMDR intake with Heather, our certified EMDR therapist.

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