by Jacqueline Muller
What is EMDR?
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro. EMDR is a technique used by licensed and certified mental health providers to address and treat both mental health disorders and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What is EMDR used for?
EMDR is used to help with the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression that at times can become debilitating or that may be silently interfering with living life to the fullest. EMDR can help improve coping with the impact of traumas by identifying root causes, changing negative beliefs to more constructive ones and creating new cognitive and behavioral pathways to coping.
How does trauma impact your life?
It is thought that when a traumatic or distressing experience occurs it leaves an imprint on you not just physically but by causing a negative cognition, and that this may get stored in the memory. As we live life more memories occur and shadow over this belief. For some is is a silent gnawing belief that something is not right, for others it is a screaming belief that reminds of the trauma or risk of future trauma that paralyzes or creates patterns that seem to have no rhyme or reason but that can lead to lives speckled with stress, anxiety, depression, and/or PTSD. This ultimately can impact our relationships, careers or limit our lives in general.
Depending upon the time of the event and details around the event(s) you may or may not remember what happened to you until you get triggered. Getting triggered is the experience when something that really happened, or is perceived to have happened or was witnessed causes a reaction that makes you relive memories of an experience. These memories, or flashbacks, may be the recalling visual images, or getting sense memories that make you react as if you were still in that experience. Flashback is a trauma reaction. The traumatized individual experiencing a flashback in the present defaults to beliefs imprinted on them at time of trauma and/or acts toward situations or others as if the threat is in the present. This makes it difficult to live fully in the moment if you are reliving past experiences and coloring current situations by those things that happened in the past.
Trauma reactions do not always follow a distinct path, nor may they always be visual. Another form of flashback is sense memories: seemingly normal things such as: sights, sounds, tastes, touch, scents, that occur in real or vicarious experiences. Either way a trauma reaction triggers traumatic memories and core beliefs that at time of the trauma became imprinted.
Some of the responses to such imprint may have resulted in behaviors that have left a trail of dysfunction, though at the time were a means of coping. You may not have an active memory of the event or what you came to believe however you know that your life and decisions in life and relationships are affected by these same negative core concepts.
What is the goal of EMDR?
The goal of EMDR is to help you whether the trauma occurred in the recent or remote past and to facilitate the reprocessing of negative core beliefs that no longer serve the individual in the present. The EMDR session involves developing a trusting relationship with the provider, identifying and drawing on inner strengths and existing coping skills, and growing a willingness to debunk old beliefs that do not have place in your current life. Your provider will help you throughout the process to develop inner resources as needed and may make suggestions to support your treatment goals.
What will one experience in an EMDR treatment?
EMDR is practiced over a series of sessions depending upon the individual’s needs. Your provider will develop a therapeutic relationship by getting a thorough biopsychosocial history, your medical health, mental health, and social experience. You provider will listen to your experiences, help you to realize how strong you are to have survived them, and provide an in-depth education about trauma. When you begin EMDR you and your provider will work to identify inner resources, those people, places, things, hobbies that you find supportive to your and that are conducive to positive therapeutic outcomes. EMDR is not recommended as an initial treatment for those who are in acute episodes of mental distress, suicidal/homicidal, or actively abusing drugs or alcohol.
The fact that you have read this far means you have way more strength than you perhaps take credit for. Knowledge is the first step toward creating a pathway toward wellness. You are on your way to becoming even stronger. If you or someone you know could benefit from learning more about EMDR. Please contact 845-702-1042.