What is E.M.D.R.?
E.M.D.R. therapy is just one of the many tools I offer my clients.
E.M.D.R. (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is a form of psychotherapy designed to more quickly and more fully alleviate the negative effects of stressful or disturbing life events.
During E.M.D.R. therapy you imagine emotionally charged content while focusing on lateral (back and forth) eye movements as directed by me. (I typically use my hand to direct your gaze. However, I can also utilize tapping on the knees as a way to stimulate bilateral processing if eye movements are not your preference for any number of reasons.)
Studies have shown that emotionally charged content tends to be stored in non-verbal, non-conscious, subcortical regions of the brain, making it hard to access and work through because of lack of access on the part of the left hemisphere and frontal lobes.
The theory behind E.M.D.R. is that it engages both brain hemispheres while you process emotional content, enlisting more of your neural network. This facilitates a more efficient and effective recovery from your targeted issue.
It’s thought that E.M.D.R. replicates what occurs during R.E.M. sleep where our eyes move laterally, assisting our brains in efficiently processing memories via various internal associations. E.M.D.R. is a more directed and focused version of this process.
What does E.M.D.R. treat?
E.M.D.R. is an effective form of therapy for many things ranging from severe trauma that may be complex or related to a specific event, to stressful thoughts and feelings that may be keeping you from living up to your full potential. It can be used to treat everything from anxiety and O.C.D. to depression, P.T.S.D. and addictions of all sorts. (These are just a few forms of psychological and emotional distress that can be targeted via E.M.D.R.)
What should you look for in an E.M.D.R. therapist?
You should, of course, make sure your therapist is trained in E.M.D.R. Secondly, like any other form of therapy, the most successful predictor of success is your relationship with the therapist. You need to feel that I “get you” and am connecting with you to build a solid therapeutic relationship.
In the case of severe trauma or P.T.S.D., you want to make sure your therapist is comfortable, trained, and experienced in trauma work.
What can you expect during E.M.D.R. therapy?
There are several steps involved in the practice of E.M.D.R. I will devote some time to establishing a good rapport and working relationship with you. I will make an effort to understand you in relation to your larger context. You need to feel comfortable disclosing potentially difficult information and you need to feel understood.
Depending on your particular issue, we may focus a fair amount of time toward identifying and solidifying relaxation, and containment techniques that work for you and can be used by you should you start to feel overwhelmed and anxious. These may involve breathing, grounding and visualization exercises and/or positive thoughts and incidents that will be enhanced through bilateral stimulation (lateral eye movements or tapping on the knees.)
You will likely come to me with a presenting problem. This may be a traumatic or stressful event or it may be a maladaptive coping mechanism or compulsion. I will work with you to identify the issue you would like to target, along with associated feelings and core beliefs about yourself. There are many ways we can achieve this depending on how you organize thoughts and emotions.
We will identify what you would like to target and begin to utilize the bilateral stimulation (either with lateral eye movement or tapping) to start processing that target more effectively. Ideally you will begin to experience a decrease in emotional response and regularity in relation to your targeted issue.
You can generally expect the process to take several or many sessions before you see significant improvement, although it depends on the individual and the presenting problem.
E.M.D.R. is thought to continue to process the targeted material even after the session has ended. It make take several sessions of bilateral stimulation around the target before you to start experiencing some relief although, I’ve also experienced client’s feeling some improvement within just one session.
Sometimes clients worry they are “doing E.M.D.R. wrong.” Everyone is different. Some people have a delayed reaction. Others experience bodily sensations during the process as opposed to emotions or thoughts and vice versa. Some people come to see me with a long history of complex trauma that may take longer to process. I have also worked with clients on recent, single incident traumas. Other people come to me for circumstances or compulsions preventing them from performing at their full potential. Some individuals seem to respond better to E.M.D.R. than others for reasons that are not always apparent. We are all wired differently.
Again, E.M.D.R. is just one of the tools I offer in my practice to assist my clients in living their best lives.
“…E.M.D.R. is phenomenal. Regardless of how, it feels like it’s awakened a more assertive facet of my personality.” – Client