Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a Trauma and Adverse Experience intervention that was discovered and studied in the late 80’s, early 90’s. The idea behind EMDR is to bring in an external stimulus to help desensitize the client to the trauma and work on helping the brain reprocess the significant life changing event.
Past, Present and Future
When they are not reprocessed, traumatic events from our past affect our feelings and thoughts in the present as well as our perceptions of the future. Our past experiences have created specific ways we see and respond to our present moment and how we visualize the future. These experiences are all connected, and while we may be able to manage the symptoms in the present moment, the distress in the moment will come back because it is influenced by those experiences in the past.
EMDR Helps the Brain Do What it Does Naturally
Our brain wants harmony and wants to be in a thriving mental state. With the reprocessing of EMDR we are giving our brain a chance to be what it wants to be- malleable, flexible and resilient. The current interpretation of the traumatic event is actually stunting the brain’s ability to grow and develop new pathways and associations.
Thinking About the Trauma, While Focusing on an External Stimulus
The idea is that one can think about the traumatic event, while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus- like lateral eye movements, hand-tapping and audio beeps. By having the physiological stimulations, it takes away the body’s response when thinking about the trauma. The body is less likely to have a reaction- increased heart rate, shortness of breath, perspiration and other fight or flight responses so we reduce our association of the traumatic memory with the body’s trauma response.
How do I know if I’ve experienced Trauma?
“Trauma” means different things for different people. Any significant, life changing, adverse experience or life event can be put into the category of trauma. There is a spectrum and it’s important to work with a licensed professional when processing and reprocessing a traumatic event. The safety of the container that the therapy office creates and the relationship with the therapist, are needed to work effectively through your life changing event. When you are ready, reaching out for help is the strongest, bravest thing you can do for yourself and your future.
If you are interested in learning more about EMDR and other trauma therapy options, please reach out to us. We would love to connect with you.