What is E.M.D.R.?

Many think of E.M.D.R. as an evidenced based, highly effective, trauma intervention.  It's since been proven effective in treating a host of issues including anxiety, depression, addictive behaviors, self limiting beliefs, OCD, procrastination and sleep disturbances among others.  Of the tools and resources I offer my clients, EMDR consistently delivers lasting, positive results. I have used EMDR in-person and virtually with equal success.

E.M.D.R. (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is a form of psychotherapy designed to more quickly and more fully alleviate the effects of traumatic, stressful, or distressing life events and negative beliefs.

During E.M.D.R. therapy we begin with what's known as the "target mapping" process. This is where we work to identify and map out negative, traumatic or distressing situations, past, present, or imagined future, that have a direct impact on your current struggles. We also work to identify and create positive, calming content that can be used to help contain and control trauma responses as necessary. 

During the active part of EMDR I have you imagine the traumatic, distressing, or negatively emotionally charged content and/or belief while engaging in what's known as "bilateral stimulation." This involves following my fingers using lateral (back and forth) eye movements or alternate knee tapping, as directed by me.  I use the knee tapping technique when doing EMDR virtually although many of my clients choose this method in-person as well as they find it less distracting in some cases.

It may sound improbable that such a simple technique could have the life changing, positive outcomes it does. 

Traumatic and emotionally charged content tends to be stored in the right hemisphere of the brain in the form of emotions and images, 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.

Studies have shown that by consciously focusing on the targeted distressing content while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation, you are engaging both brain hemispheres, thereby enlisting your entire neural network to process and eventually clear traumatic or negative content. The trauma, having been held in the right hemisphere, largely in the form of images and emotion, is now aided by the language and reason of the left hemisphere. This facilitates an efficient and effective recovery from your targeted issue. And the E.M.D.R., post session, continues to passively, but effectively, process the target material without emotionally dysregulating the client.

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 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. I have seen some truly miraculous results as a result of my EMDR work.

…E.M.D.R. is phenomenal. Regardless of how, it feels like it’s awakened a more assertive facet of my personality

- Client

I was very doubtful of EDMR when I first heard about it, but I came in with an open mind and willingness to try anything. After just my first treatment, I walked out the room and the constant screaming in my head went silent. That night, when I went to bed, I finally felt a sense of calm that I never had for 40 years.

- Client
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