EMDR Therapy Explained
international trauma therapist and coach
Because life happens
“The brain is predisposed to heal itself but sometimes needs help facilitating that process. EMDR provides that help.”
Reprocessing our past
In many cases, we may not associate the original event with what is happening in the present, but will find ourselves suddenly overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness or fear.
We may react in ways that are inappropriate and damaging – by “losing it” with an incompetent boss, a rude child or an unsupportive partner – not understanding why they have such an effect on us. We may find ourselves paralyzed with fear by the thought of public speaking, flying or visiting a doctor’s office.
Someone in our lives might seem to bring out the worst in us, causing us to behave in ways that we dislike but can’t seem to do anything about. Any of these situations could be the result of unprocessed, improperly stored data from our past that needs reprocessing.
What EMDR does
By using eye movements that mimic REM sleep, EMDR stimulates the brain’s natural processing mechanism so that the fragments of disturbing material from the past can be accessed, processed and integrated into a cohesive experience and then into the overall life story.
In the case of a recent, single incident trauma such as a mugging or a hurricane that occurred in the past couple of months, the disturbance can usually be cleared up within a few sessions of EMDR. When there are a number of traumatic incidents, or the same trauma was repeated multiple times (as in the case of physical or sexual abuse), EMDR therapists create a “target sequence plan” that lists all of the traumatic events and memories to be covered in the course of therapy.
Generally, by starting with the first chronological event on the list and moving to the worst, the disturbance level of all of the memories on the plan will be brought down significantly, again enabling improvements relatively quickly.