Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful therapeutic process which can clear troubling emotions and negative thinking linked to trauma and other painful past experiences. It is one of the most scientifically validated therapies for trauma, and is proven to be effective across a huge variety of symptoms. Primarily used for PTSD of all kinds (including events of abuse, war, accidents, assaults and disasters) it is now used as an adjunct therapy for a host of other issues such as:
- Anxieties, fears, panic disorder, obsessions
- Eating disorders, body image concerns
- Medical trauma, chronic pain
- Sexual, physical and emotional abuse
- Relationship issues, family of origin difficulties
- Addictions Recovery and Cessation
- Self –Worth and Self-Esteem issues
- Attachment, interpersonal and relationship challenges, barriers to intimacy
- Obsessions and OCD symptoms
- Unresolved and Long term grief
People often report that in single sessions of EMDR, they can solve issues which had plagued them for years, even when they have been in other forms of therapy. Compared to CBT, it can often mean a much shorter and therefore more efficient use of time and your therapy dollars.
What is most exciting about EMDR, is its usefulness in treating attachment trauma – the difficult events of childhood development that create stuck areas of belief and perception that lay down the foundations of much more subtle psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, addiction, relationship difficulties and personality disorders.
My focus and passion is this Attachment-Focused EMDR which I have personally experienced and used countless times with clients to shift the areas of life that for a long time we thought simply could not be touched. I have seen, in often just a few sessions, re-adjustments in perception and insight that have positively changed patterns of thought and behaviour that were present for decades, that the clients just assumed, “this is just who I am”.
Who we are can change! EMDR, combined with intelligent attachment-focused talk therapy seems to be the cutting edge of the science of healing and it just seems endless in its applications and depth.
So How Does it Work?
EMDR is based on the neuroscience of triggering the left and right hemispheres of the brain as a way of accessing information in a way that is not native to regular thinking. EMDR is believed to stimulate a natural healing capacity of the brain to resolve emotional disruption and gain adaptive and more helpful insights, not unlike what occurs spontaneously during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation, such as right/left eye movement, or more often these days, tactile stimulation (in the form of non-intrusive and gentle buzzers which you hold in your hands), which activate both sides of the brain. This process seems to create access to experiences that are “trapped” in the more primitive parts of the brain. This assists the neurophysiological system, the basis of the mind/body connection, to make new connections and reprocess old cognitive/ emotional patterns via the more adaptive intelligence of the pre-frontal cortex, which the system did not have access to during the original negative or traumatic event (especially when this was during childhood!). As disturbing images, ideas and feelings are processed by the brain via EMDR, symptoms are alleviated and the nervous system moves towards homeostasis, which is felt as greater peace and wholeness.
Why Should I Consider EMDR?
Basically, because it is just flat-out awesome. As a therapist, I’m just sorry that it took me so long to discover something that is just so incredibly effective. But here are a few things to consider:
- EMDR is said to be more than twice as effective, in more than half the time.
- EMDR is gentle, non-intrusive, and paced according to the client
- EMDR is endorsed and approved by major academic and governmental bodies
- EMDR makes changes that are long- lasting, permanently re-organizing neural systems
- EMDR integrates the mind, body, and emotions
A Brief Introduction to EMDR
The Following organizations consider EMDR to be valid and effective therapy for trauma:
- American Psychiatric Association states that EMDR is “an effective therapy for trauma”
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (USA)
- The National Institute for Mental Health
- Mental Health departments of countries such as Canada, Israel, Northern Ireland, France, UK, Sweden and more