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Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

What is EMDR and how can it help me?

EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, a therapy method that can help resolve painful life memories that still impact you, often in much fewer sessions than traditional talk therapy. Proven over a 20 year history of treatment and research, it works to resolve the way distressing memories are stored in the brain. It is recommended by the American Psychological Association and the Veterans Administration as an effective method.

How does EMDR work?EMDR - Therapy

Sometimes when a person experiences a very disturbing event, the brain cannot process the information as it usually does. When this happens, the event then becomes frozen in a person’s mind, as if it is “stuck behind a wall” and the person does not have access to it. So no new information can come in and the memory is trapped. When a person thinks about the event or is reminded of it in some way of it, even subconsciously, the memory can feel as bad as it did when it actually happened. So any image, sound, smell or feeling can be a reminder of the past. Then the bad feelings keep coming back and can be interfering with the way a person sees the world or relates to others.

EMDR works by helping the brain to process the upsetting memory. EMDR uses eye movements – mimicking REM sleep – or by alternately stimulating the brain’s right and left hemispheres, such as through beeps in the ears, pulses in the hands or by taps on the legs. This helps the brain to access the memory and build new connections so that these painful memories are not so bothersome. After EMDR, the event is remembered but it is less upsetting.

What problems can EMDR help?

Research has shown EMDR to be helpful resolving these types of problems among others:

Phobias Lack of assertiveness Sadness and Depression
Low self-esteem Grief or loss of a loved one Constant worry or excessive anger
Childhood abuse or trauma Nightmares and sleep problems Physical or sexual abuse and assault
Medical traumas Car accidents Fear of vomiting
Compulsive eating Procrastination Chronic pain

If you have more questions or are interested in learning more about EMDR or think it might be helpful for something you are struggling with, feel free to call or email me. We can discuss the specifics of your situation and decide if it is right for you since every situation is unique. Or go to EMDR In Action where you can learn more details and see some videos.