What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

       Ryan has been a patient of and now has had extensive extra training to become one of the areas only Certified EMDR Therapist. Below is Ryan's explanation of what EMDR is and how it worked for him: 

      "I don't believe that any of us were born having a negative core belief (NCB) about ourselves. It was learned or programmed in without us knowing it. An example of one of my NCB's is that I am always unsafe. I have this internal "thing" that no matter where I am, or what I'm doing, I feel on edge or scared. Everyone always termed it "anxiety", anxiety is the symptom of my NCB of not feeling safe. EMDR treats the "roots" of the mental health symptoms,not the symptoms (fruit). After discussing my life with an EMDR clinician she asked me what I felt inside when I would attempt to live with someone. I said something to the effect of not feeling safe. She asked me, "When was the first time you ever felt that way?" We actually started with when I was being born (due to my mother being lifeflighted immediately after I was born due to hemmoraging. I was left alone in the hospital for a substantial amount of time without getting to touch, or be with my mother). When I thought about that story I was told about my birth, I instantly felt distressed in my emotions, mind and body, the therapist then told me to focus on that and let my brain do what it needed to do. She then turned on these vibrating sensors she had given me (one in each hand, which vibrated back and forth, back and forth). I was amazed what started to happen, I started to feel safer in that memory and then my thoughts just started going onto other events in my life where I felt unsafe. The events would be very distressful when I would first think about them, but after a few rounds with the Bilateral Stimulation (which can be done with the vibrating sensors that I used, moving my eyes back and forth, tapping my knees back and forth, or even listening to tones in a headset that went back and forth) I would feel much less distress. Over just a few sessions, I felt I accomplished more than I had with 30 regular talk type of therapy sessions with other counselors. I genuinely feel safer, in all areas. I wasn't fixed, but the scared feeling only gets up to about a 3 out of 10 now, which before it would get to a 10 very quickly over what I consider small things now. In order for that to happen in day to day stressors, I had to treat the roots of that NCB (the traumatic birth and mulitple other early childhood, and memories from later in life also). Other NCB's can be: I'm not good enough, I'm powerless, I'm abandon, I'm worthless, I'm going to die, It's not safe to feel, I should have done something, I'm responsible for everything, I'm broken, I'm worthless and many more. This therapy has major evidence to treat addictions, PTSD, attachment disorders, relationship problems, etc. The brain does the work with the assistance of a clinician who is trained to appropriately stimulate the right and left halves of the brain to desensitize and reprocess all of these maladies. 
     According to the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing International Association, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a mental health and substance abuse treatment that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the resolution of mental health symptoms from adverse life experiences. Distressing life events can overwhelm a person's ability to cope and have a lasting negative effect on mental, emotional, and physical health. EMDR therapy is an integrative psychotherapy that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches for people of all ages suffering psychological distress.

     EMDR therapy can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see upsetting experiences in a new and less disturbing way. EMDR therapy has a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information, similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. In REM sleep, the brain's natural healing process helps to make sense of and integrate experiences into adaptive learning.

    The brain’s information processing system works similarly to the body's natural healing process. Just as the body is designed to naturally heal after an injury to restore physical health, the brain is also designed to move toward mental health, unless overwhelmed by distressing events or experiences. When adverse childhood or adult experiences occur, the brain can get overwhelmed and unable to process information as it typically does. Disturbing moments or experiences become stuck in the brain's memory networks as they were originally experienced, continuing to negatively influence beliefs about self, relationships, and life. The brain's information processing system is blocked or out of balance, developing psychological and emotional wounds that can fester and cause suffering. When these blocks in the brain's memory networks are removed, healing occurs just as it does for the body. EMDR trained clinicians use procedures, skills and resources to help clients activate their natural healing processes, without need for sharing details or doing homework.

      EMDR therapy facilitates change in the meaning of painful events and the cause of presenting symptoms and issues. Rather than continuing to experience old emotions and beliefs about self that impact present functioning, clients are able to live in the present, knowing they are worthwhile, good enough, did the best they could, are strong, capable, safe enough, with choices in the present.

      Unlike talk therapy, the insights gained in EMDR therapy result primarily from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional brain and body processing rather than from the therapist's interpretation. It is the client's own brain that does the healing. Clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling transformed and empowered by the very experiences that once brought them pain" (https://emdrandbeyond.com/emdr, 2018). 

Adapted from www.emdria.org See www.emdrconsulting.com for more information.