Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR Website pictureI frequently use EMDR with my stuck clients.  Have you ever felt like you are replaying the same situation over and over again?  Different job, same reaction to yet another boss?   Maybe it seems like your boss is a critical parent, and you are stuck in an endless loop with him (or her)?

Do you find yourself having flashbacks for a significant trauma?

When we go through a trauma (big T Trauma like abuse, assault, accident, war or little t trauma like emotional neglect, emotional abuse, etc.), we are so stressed at the time that the traumatic memory does not get processed, and thus, is stored in our neural networks in the same state in which it was experienced originally.  We try to avoid thinking about it, and thus, the memory is unprocessed, undigested.  When something reminds us of that trauma (when we are triggered) we go right back to the age stage that we were when it first happened.  We may overreact to new situations because of the old, unprocessed material that gets triggered.  This is why your adult self knows better, but your younger self is the one that goes into fight, flight, or freeze, and frequently attempts to self soothe inappropriately (Ben and Jerry’s?  Alcohol?  Cutting?).

It is believed that in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, our eyes moving back and forth help to process the memory, and that this helps to integrate the memory in a more healthy manner, accessing both sides of the brain.  With EMDR, I will guide you with eye movements, or sounds, or mild electrical pulses, or gentle tapping on your hands or knees to assist you in integrating traumatic memories, thus, accessing the wisdom that you already have, but cannot access when triggered.  When a therapist uses EMDR to guide you through to resolution on these traumas, you have access to your adult self, and can make better choices from your adult perspective.

Bottom line?  Lots of research has shown that this technique is very effective in helping us get “past our past,” as Dr. Francine Shapiro, the creator of this technique has stated.