“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
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 therapy has been extensively researched and has demonstrated effectiveness for trauma.
About EMDR Therapy
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.”
How is EMDR different from other therapies?
EMDR therapy does not require talking in detail about the distressing issue, or homework between sessions. EMDR, rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process. EMDR therapy is designed to resolve unprocessed traumatic memories in the brain. Part of the therapy includes alternating eye movements, sounds, or taps. For many clients, EMDR therapy can be completed in fewer sessions than other psychotherapies.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy approach developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro. It was created to help people heal from trauma or adversities such as issues of abuse, bullying, domestic violence, grief/loss, attachment wounds, abandonment, PTSD, and many other complicated life issues.
EMDR therapy is now validated as an evidence-based approach and included in SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) and the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices. In addition, EMDR therapy has been validated by over 20 randomized controlled clinical trials.
EMDR therapy integrates elements of many traditional psychological orientations and is based on the adaptive information processing model (AIP). The AIP model hypothesizes that there is an inherent information processing system in the brain that gets blocked when traumatic or adverse events occur.
These systems cause these events to get locked in the brain with the original picture, sounds, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. Whenever a reminder of the traumatic or adverse event comes up, those pictures, thoughts, feelings, and sensations continue to be triggered.
According to Dr. Shapiro, many emotional problems and disorders are manifestations of these unprocessed traumatic memories that are stored in the brain. EMDR therapy works on helping the brain reprocess these traumatic memories. As a result, emotional and psychological disorders are alleviated.
EMDR therapy has been used with children and adolescents with a wide variety of emotional and psychological problems including PTSD, anxiety, phobias, depression, attachment disorders, and more. The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare has now accepted EMDR therapy as an evidence-based approach for children. I also utilize Attachment Focused and Resource Tapping forms of EMDR.
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