What is EMDR?

Sometimes we experience traumas or events in our lives that leave us with unseen scars or wounds. These psychological wounds, if untreated, can fester and affect not only our lives but also those around us, in particular immediate family members. Here at Eastside Center for Healing we are committed to treating and helping those affected with these traumas to heal, which is why we have trained therapists in a type of trauma therapy called EMDR.

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a form of therapy that helps people heal from trauma or other distressing life experiences. EMDR has been extensively researched and has demonstrated effectiveness for trauma.

How do I know if I need trauma therapy or EMDR?

A good way to assess if you have need for EMDR therapy is to ask yourself if you have experienced the following symptoms:

  • Flashbacks or nightmares of traumatic events
  • Emotional numbness
  • Avoidance of places, people, and activities
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Feeling jumpy, or being easily irritated and angered.

If you answered yes to any of the above, you might be experiencing symptoms of PTSD. EMDR has been proven to help!

How does EMDR work to heal past traumas?

Our brains have a natural way to recover from traumatic memories and events. This process involves communication between the amygdala (the alarm signal for stressful events), the hippocampus (which assists with learning, including memories about safety and danger), and the prefrontal cortex (which analyzes and controls behavior and emotion). While many times traumatic experiences can be managed and resolved spontaneously, they may not be processed without help. Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create feelings of overwhelm, of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.

Sometimes people are hesitant to seek help for past traumas based on the belief that they will not be able to handle the emotions when they are brought up again, and the fear of “reliving” those past traumas. However, EMDR is different from other forms of therapy and traumas will not need to be explained in detail in order to be processed.

Is it necessary to tell my therapist all the details about my problems in order for them to be processed?

No, it is not necessary to talk about all the details of your experiences for them to be processed.

Will I get emotional?

Yes, you may. Emotions and sensations may come up during processing; although, you will be prepared and your therapist will help you safely manage them. Once they are processed, they rarely come back!

Is EMDR like hypnosis?

No. During EMDR processing, you are present and fully in control.

Is EMDR a brief treatment?

EMDR, as with all treatment approaches, will help you accomplish your treatment goals. The length of time that it takes is dependent upon the complexity of your problems. Frequently, EMDR is only one of several treatment approaches that will be used to help you reach your treatment goals.

What can EMDR be used to treat?

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias
  • Chronic illness and medical issues
  • Depression and bipolar disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Grief and loss
  • Pain
  • Psychosis
  • PTSD and other stress related issues
  • Sexual assault
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Violence and abuse

What will therapy look like?

You have come to treatment expressing concerns. Your therapist will help you understand the dynamics of the presenting concerns and how to adaptively manage them. An overall treatment plan will be developed that will accomplish your goals. Within that treatment plan, EMDR, along with other therapy approaches, will be used to accomplish your treatment goals.

The EMDR session:

You will be asked a set of questions to access and activate the negative experience and the desired adaptive resolution. Sets of rapid eye movement (or other forms of bilateral stimulation) will be applied. You will be encouraged to just “free associate” and allow the brain to work through the experience. Sets of eye movements will be alternated with brief reports about what you are experiencing. EMDR processing will continue until the past experience has been updated to an adaptive present perspective. With long standing issues, this process may take multiple sessions. Once the disturbing experiences have been updated, you and your therapist will work together to integrate these new insights and perspectives into your daily life.

Contact us at Eastside Center for Healing and start working toward a better tomorrow today.

Studies showing effectiveness of EMDR: