Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy
What is EMDR?
EMDR incorporates a number of therapeutic approaches (e.g., cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness, psychodynamic) to help the client process difficult life experiences. It involves the use of what is called, ‘bilateral stimulation’, which is brought about via side-to-side (i.e., right-to-left) eye movement, tapping, or sometimes rhythmic sound.
It is believed that such stimulation mimics what the body does during the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep phase —the phase of sleep in which we process much information gathered and directly experienced during our waking hours. In this way EMDR is believed to help us desensitize and reprocess difficult life events and traumas, such that we reinterpret and in a sense recode the story or stories of our lives that cause us the most chronic distress.
No one is completely sure how this technique works as well and as quickly as it does, but it seems to do so in most clients who try it.
Common issues EMDR can treat
Many people who’ve received EMDR treatment report very significant reductions in emotional distress having to do with reliving in their minds the most difficult of their past experiences. It has proven effective in reducing symptoms of dozens of psychological problems, including:
Anxiety and panic attacks
Grief and loss
Because EMDR draws from what has been proven to work in a number of older therapeutic modalities, it can easily be incorporated into most, if not all, therapy regimens.
How can EMDR help me?
With the caring accompaniment of a therapist trained in EMDR, this kind of ‘reprocessing’ of such painful and highly stressful memories can greatly reduce the emotional intensity with which we remember those painful events in future, and can help us feel more in control of ourselves and our destiny, and less likely to become overwhelmed by remembering what’s happened to us.
To take one common example of what this transformational process may effect, a full course of EMDR may greatly help a person move from a persistent, agonizing, and preoccupying belief about a painful past event (one the client may or may not even have been previously aware of) such as, “I am unlovable” and reassign meaning to the experiences that gave rise to that belief that then have the client reviewing these life events in an entirely different and much less painful way (e.g., thinking instead while remembering what happened,“I am worthy of love”).
Many find that this reduction in emotional pain frees them up to the extent that, not only are they suffering and preoccupied much less by painful memories and hurtful, repetitive messages to the self, but also that they can be more available in body and mind to new and much more nourishing and positive experiences that life may have to offer.
Interestingly, the success of EMDR treatment does not rely on a client talking about the painful event(s) that are being reprocessed. This means it can be a particularly helpful part of treatment for those who do not feel ready to talk about such experiences.
How quickly does EMDR work?
While it is impossible to know precisely how long it will take before EMDR produces positive results for a client in reducing distress and overwhelm, we can know that desired, noticeable change occurs in many people who undergo it in as little as five sessions. The length of an EMDR course of therapy is not set in advance to a specific number of sessions as people’s response times and degrees vary, depending on many factors, including the nature of the traumas they are trying to heal from. However, it is recommended that clients commit to completing all eight stages of this treatment (i.e., history and treatment planning; preparation; assessment; desensitization; installation; body scan; closure, and reevaluation) in order to fully reap the benefits it may offer them.
Psychologists that specialize in EMDR
Please contact us to book an appointment.