What is EMDR Therapy?
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy is a comprehensive, integrative psychotherapy originally developed as a trauma treatment. Only licensed mental health providers receive formal training and certification in EMDR Therapy, which contains elements of many effective psychotherapies, such as psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered therapies. These elements are important, as traumatic events may be held in the mind and remembered in a way that creates a range of uncomfortable symptoms, such as physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and images associated with the traumatic event.
How does it work?
EMDR Therapy helps us become desensitized to the memory through reprocessing with bilateral stimulation (eye movements are just one way to induce bilateral stimulation of the central nervous system; auditory and tactile modalities are also used now). Among the most severe manifestations is PTSD, in which one re-experiences the trauma memory with the emotional, mental, and physical activation that creates the feeling that one is presently in danger, which is untrue, unhelpful, and uncomfortable. Any manifestation–whether mild, moderate, or severe–disconnects us from our present reality and can interfere with our ability to function and feel well throughout the day.
Who can benefit from it?
EMDR Therapy does not erase a traumatic or troubling memory; rather, it relieves the distressing emotional charge once associated with the memory. We can then experience the memory without the accompanying messages of fear, panic, physiological activation, and extreme emotional distress. While EMDR Therapy has helped many people heal from PTSD caused by extreme traumatic events such as combat, assault, abuse, auto accidents, etc., it can also help people who experience distress from other life-disturbing events like death, divorce, difficult transitions, anxiety and much more. Thus, EMDR Therapy helps those of us with “Large T” or “small t” traumas.
Children, teens, and adults may have difficulty healing from a traumatic experience. As a parent, you just want to hug your child and make the fear go away. You’ve tried everything, but it keeps coming back and causing distress, for your child and for you. Fortunately, EMDR Therapy can provide swift relief for you both by calming the distress AND providing new coping resources. Children are so resilient, they often respond very quickly, whether we’re treating a trauma, a phobia or anxious fear, or the impact of early life difficulties. Using EMDR techniques, parents can also learn to coach their kids through the distress to find the relief you’ve been seeking.
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