Overcome Anxiety and Other Distressing Symptoms
EMDR is a Proven Tool Used By Therapists to Help Resolve Deeply Distressing Emotions, Thoughts, and Behaviors
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is one of the most well-researched and widely used methods of therapy. I am one of the thousands of EMDR therapists all over the world who have been trained in this highly effective approach.
EMDR is used for treating persistent problems such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, painful relationship patterns, PTSD, health problems, and other issues stemming from disturbing or traumatic events.
The troublesome events may have occurred in childhood or adulthood, and they may not have seemed “traumatic” to you at the time. You may not even remember them. However, often these unpleasant events can be the cause of problems in your life without you being aware of it.
Definition of EMDR
According to the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA):
EMDR is an evidence based psychotherapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)… The model on which EMDR is based, Adaptive Information Processing (AIP), posits that much of psychopathology is due to the maladaptive encoding of and/or incomplete processing of traumatic or disturbing adverse life experiences. This impairs the client’s ability to integrate these experiences in an adaptive manner. The eight-phase, three pronged process of EMDR facilitates the resumption of normal information processing and integration. This treatment approach, which targets past experience, current triggers, and future potential challenges, results in the alleviation of presenting symptoms, a decrease or elimination of distress from the disturbing memory, improved view of the self, relief from bodily disturbance, and resolution of present and future anticipated triggers.
EMDR Therapy is Often Therapists’ Method of Choice
While there are many counselling methods that therapists utilize in their work, EMDR is often the go-to method for many counsellors.
EMDR’s popularity with therapists is due to its high degree of effectiveness, which has been shown in research for almost 30 years.
EMDR is also approved by several national and international organizations including the World Health Organization and the American Psychiatric Association.
EMDR Therapy Can Help Heal Many Troubling Problems
EMDR can be used effectively to help relieve distress from disturbing experiences, regardless of how small or insignificant they may seem at the time they occurred.
Some events that can lead to long-term problems where EMDR can help:
- Abuse in childhood (physical, emotional, or sexual abuse)
- Abuse in adulthood (emotional, physical, or sexual abuse/assault)
- Witnessing abuse or a tragic event in real life or even in the news
- An accident (motor vehicle accident, a fall resulting in injury, a work-related accident)
- A natural disaster (experiencing an earthquake, hurricane, flood, fire, etc.)
If the trauma related to the above events is not healed, the above experiences can lead to long-term problems such as depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, addictions, etc.
EMDR has been shown to help reduce or resolve long-term consequences of experiencing traumatic events.
How EMDR Works to Help You Heal
When you have a distressing experience, both your body and mind react to the experience. Your brain goes into either a “flight” or “fight” response to alert you to the danger you’re experiencing.
With deeply disturbing events, the brain can get stuck in a “flight” or “fight” response.
When the brain becomes locked like this, in the future when a similar event or something that reminds you of the initial event occurs (e.g. a sound, smell, image, a voice tone, someone touching you, etc.) it can re-trigger the experience of the original traumatic event.
Sometimes this “re-triggering” often manifests as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Even seemingly insignificant traumas can be re-triggered and cause distress if your brain hasn’t fully processed (healed) the original experience.
By allowing your body’s nervous system to release the reactive initial “flight” or “fight” response, EMDR helps resolve the “trauma.” After EMDR therapy when you experience something that reminds you of the original event, your reactions will be less severe or resolved entirely.
How I use EMDR as a Therapist – The 8 Phases of EMDR Therapy
Gently and compassionately we will work on healing your troublesome symptoms that brought you to therapy.
I will use EMDR only if it seems to be a good fit for you and you agree to using it. We work on resolving specific problems as you feel ready to deal with them.
The first 3 phases of EMDR therapy focus on preparing you for the EMDR process. We begin by examining the history of the problem and then assess whether EMDR treatment is appropriate for your issue and at this particular time. Once it is determined that EMDR is suitable, a treatment plan is established.
I will explain the EMDR process to you and we will begin by determining an issue that you want to heal. We will focus on a specific memory, sensory experience, or image that stands out for you in relation to the problem.
In the next 3 phases of EMDR, you put your attention on the issue while noticing your experiences – thoughts, feelings, and body sensations.
I will apply bi-lateral stimulation during this time. There are methods of bi-lateral stimulation.
The method I use is to ask you to follow my fingers as I move them back and forth in front of you. This procedure has an impact on your brain where the experience is “locked”. The treatment “unlocks” the issue and allows for relief of your symptoms.
At the end of every EMDR session, it is important that we “close” the session by focusing on the present moment. I will ask you to record your experiences at home and report back on our next therapy session.
In subsequent sessions, we will determine if your symptoms have been reduced or eliminated and where further EMDR work may be required.
Depending on the nature and extent of your symptoms, in time, your stress response will either be dramatically reduced or eliminated when you remember the event or are reminded of it in some way.
EMDR is one of my most-used tools in therapy due to its high level of effectiveness in helping my clients resolve the underlying cause of their anxiety or eating disorders.