What Is EMDR Therapy? Can It Help Me?
So you’ve heard of EMDR Therapy but have no clue what it is or what it’s used for. And you’re wondering “Can it help me?”. Let me explain! First off, EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. Have you experienced a recent traumatic experience that is causing you extreme distress? Maybe you’re crying a lot, startle easily, have nightmares, or stressful flashbacks? Or maybe it’s a trauma from childhood that you feel is still affecting your life today. EMDR Therapy can positively help you feel better and get on with your life.
Besides trauma, EMDR treatment can also help with many other distressing issues (see list below for some examples). Regular talk therapy can take months and months to make progress. Subsequently, maybe you’ve hit a wall with talk therapy and aren’t making anymore progress. EMDR usually takes 6-12 therapy sessions. But in truth, many people feel relief in only 1-2 sessions.
EMDR Therapy Can Help:
Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias
Chronic Illness and medical issues
Depression and bipolar disorders
Grief and loss
PTSD and other trauma and stress related issues
Substance abuse and addiction
Violence and abuse
Have You Had Thoughts Such As:
“am not good enough”
“am not safe”
“am a failure”
Importantly, EMDR Therapy can dig deep into memories and make you a more confident and capable person.
You Are Not Alone
70% of Americans have experienced a trauma and 60% of adult Americans have had childhood trauma. This is known as complex or developmental trauma. Subsequently, untreated trauma leads to mental disorders such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety. Hence, It effects our relationships and our work life. Similarly, it can lead to addiction, risky behaviors, anger issues, and chronic illness or chronic pain.
But most importantly, healing trauma is possible! EMDR therapy is a great place to start the healing.
But What Exactly is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based therapy intervention. Simply put, EMDR is an 8 Phase therapy that was created by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the 1980s. She discovered that bilateral actions such as eye movements, sounds, sensations, could neutralize distressing memories and emotions.
EMDR works in the brain by retrieving memories from the Hippocampus (time/memory keeper). It moves the memories into the Prefrontal Cortex (thinking brain). The bilateral movements (looking back and forth, for instance) integrate different parts of the brain (prefrontal cortex, ventromedial, amygdala, thalamic regions). To clarify, it loosens trauma brain networks, and restructures thoughts and feelings so they become more adaptive.
What Happens In The EMDR Session?
In our sessions, first I will take your history and learn more about you. Secondly, I will introduce you to the EMDR treatment equipment so that you are comfortable when we begin reprocessing the memories. After that, you will learn grounding and relaxation techniques to prepare you for working with the trauma. When I feel you are fully prepared, this is when we will start the bilateral reprocessing (eye movements).
Do I have to go over the trauma in detail again? It’s too painful.
You don’t have to. The great thing about EMDR is that, unlike other therapies, you don’t have to get into all the details of the event. A few key points are all that is needed for the therapy to be successful.
Wait, is EMDR erasing memories in my brain?!
Nope. Certainly, you will still remember the event, but it will no longer be as impactful as it once was. You will be able to cope and function better. Definitely, no brain erasing takes place.
How Does EMDR Work?
In clinical studies EMDR treatment has shown that it decreases activation in areas in the limbic system of the brain. These areas are involved in flight/fight/freeze (Pagani, 2007) and (de Voogd et al, 2018). Also, there have also been studies that show positive neuroanatomical changes after EMDR (Letizia et al., 2007).
In addition, there are multiple theories on why EMDR works. One is that it is desensitizing memories or distressful emotions. Another theory is that the bilateral movements activate and integrate the right and left hemispheres of the brain. A popular theory is that EMDR mimics REM sleep. To explain, in REM sleep your eyes rapidly move back and forth while sleeping, which is processing and storing memories.
EMDR Therapy has been proven successful in veterans, cancer patients, survivors of sexual abuse, psychosis, and so much more.
A few EMDR Studies:
A Lot of Therapists Are Offering EMDR. Why Should I Work With You?
Unfortunately, a lot of therapists are not following the evidenced based 8- Phase EMDR protocol. This protocol has been clinically studied and found to be effective. Most importantly, a therapist waving their finger in front of you for a few minutes at the end of your session is NOT EMDR. Also, many therapists that are administering EMDR have sadly not been properly trained. Above all, when you come to see me, you should feel comfortable knowing that I use the entire 8 Phase protocol and have been fully trained by an EMDRIA accredited school.
To Sum Up, Reach Out!
I am offering EMDR Therapy in person at my office in Ventura, California (near Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Ojai, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks). Also, I offer EMDR online using top of the line computer software that you log into from your home computer. I offer a 20-minute complementary phone session for any questions you may have. In short, I look forward to hearing from you!
For more info go to www.emdria.org
Get In Touch
1198 Navigator Dr. Ventura, CA 93001
Located near Ojai, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks.
Also seeing clients for online therapy all over.