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Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a psychotherapy approach that helps individuals process and heal from traumatic or distressing experiences. It was developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s and has since gained recognition as an effective treatment for trauma-related conditions, especially Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

EMDR therapy is based on the idea that traumatic experiences can become "stuck" in a person's memory processing, leading to ongoing distress, emotional reactions, and negative beliefs. The goal of EMDR is to facilitate the adaptive processing of these memories so that they become less emotionally charged and distressing.

When bad things happen—even when they are not our fault—we often have bad thoughts about ourselves: I’m powerless, I’m not in control, I’m worthless. Left unattended, images and sensations of the traumatic event(s) play over and over in our memory, keeping our nervous system in fight, flight, freeze or please mode, wreaking havoc on our physical and psychological health, and encouraging our negative thoughts to become negative beliefs. Soon, we are making life decisions based on those bad beliefs about ourselves instead of on our values. Hopes, goals and dreams become further out of reach as we lose trust in the world around us. We become defined by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), enduring its distressing symptoms.

 

EMDR therapy interrupts this cycle of trauma by offering the chance to briefly revisit painful memories while engaging in guided rapid eye movements (EM) that help to expand the neural pathways across the front of the brain and open the channels to the back of the brain—to long-term memory. In this process, we are able to desensitize (D) the upsetting images and sensations in the safe and controlled environment of therapy, then reprocess (R) the bad belief into something empowered and positive: It’s over—I’m safe now, I did the best I could, I deserve good things. This allows the nervous system to go into “rest and digest,” which in turn regulates the heartbeat, limbic system, and more. 

 

After EMDR treatment, we remember the bad thing(s) that happened but we no longer relive them. Essentially, we get past the past and move forward with insight and understanding. We carry reverence for our pain and loss along with self-respect and compassion. We start making life choices based on our values rather than on our fears. We begin to define ourselves and our lives by what our Clinical Director, Shannon Moroney, terms “PTSG”: post-traumatic super growth.

 

Therapists and clients alike love EMDR because it spares both parties the experience of recounting (which can be exhausting) and brings quick and permanent resolve to the client. 

Are you interested in EMDR Therapy? Click Book Now below to speak with our EMDR Certified Practitioners.

You may find EMDR Therapy Helpful if you resonate with any of the below descriptions. We recommend discussing EMDR for your needs with one of our EMDR Certified Practitioners to see if it is the right fit for you.

Who is a good candidate for EMDR Therapy?

People with PTSD

EMDR is particularly effective for individuals diagnosed with PTSD, which often develops after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD can include intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance, and emotional numbing. EMDR aims to alleviate these symptoms by reprocessing the traumatic memories that underlie them.

Single Traumatic Events

Individuals who have experienced a single traumatic event, such as an accident, assault, or natural disaster, might benefit from EMDR. This therapy can help them process and reduce the emotional distress associated with that specific event.

Complex Trauma

People who have experienced multiple traumas over a prolonged period, such as childhood abuse or neglect, may also find EMDR helpful. It can address the complex interplay of memories and emotions associated with these events.

Phobias & Anxiety Disorders

EMDR has shown promise in treating certain phobias and anxiety disorders, such as specific phobias, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. It can help individuals reprocess underlying traumatic memories or experiences that contribute to their anxiety.

Distressing Memories

Even if an individual doesn't meet the criteria for a formal diagnosis, they might benefit from EMDR if they have distressing memories that continue to affect their emotional well-being and functioning.

Openness to the Process

Like all therapeutic interventions, EMDR requires a degree of readiness and willingness to engage with the therapeutic process. Many people like EMDR Therapy because they do not have to recount every detail of a traumatic memory. Individuals who are open to this process and motivated to heal are generally good candidates. We accept clients as young as 5 years old and up to 100+ for our EMDR Services.

Learn More About EMDR Therapy

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