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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing 

What is EMDR?


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy is a rather recent, but quickly growing modality of psychotherapy for trauma that enables people to reprocess and heal from the symptoms, memories, and distress that results from life experience(s). EMDR therapy aims to alleviate distress, reformulate negatively held personal beliefs, and reduce physiological arousal through standard phases of treatment. It focuses on past memories and experiences, present disturbance, and future abilities. 


The length of EMDR therapy varies from person to person as we, and our experiences, are unique. Emotional pain and suffering can take a long time to heal and EMDR can facilitate that healing. It is known to be successful in treating people who experience a wide range of trauma including:

  • fear (even a fear of public speaking) 

  • grief

  • stress

  • panic

  • anxiety

  • PTSD

  • disturbing memories

  • and other emotional challenges


How does EMDR work?


EMDR therapy uses dual attention stimulus (eye movements, audio, or tactile stimulation) which activates the left and right brain simultaneously. This bilateral brain stimulation is a key component of EMDR therapy, and this activation of the opposite sides of the brain is what releases emotions and memories that are trapped in the body’s nervous system. As a result, the neurophysiological system (aka mind/body connection) is able to release blockages, and reprocess and overcome what has been trapped inside.


Another way to think about this is… if you were to get a cut, you would treat and bandage the wound in order to allow your body to heal itself since lack of treatment may cause the physical wound to become infected and painful. EMDR therapy is similar in that the mental/emotional wound that you’ve acquired may become painful if left untreated. The information processing system in the brain has a natural inclination toward mental and emotional healing and that is what happens during EMDR therapy. 


Should I try EMDR? 

Unlike other treatment modalities, EMDR therapy does not require that the client talk in detail about his/her disturbing memories. Rather, the process can begin with a discussion about the presenting issue, symptom or memory. EMDR therapy reveals that the mind is capable of healing the psychological and physical wounds of the body, thus healing one’s whole-being. 

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