What Is EMDR Therapy?
Everyone is shaped by their past experiences. Some experiences shape us for the better, while traumatic events may continue to negatively impact our emotional landscape, relationships, and sense of safety in the world. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing treatment (EMDR) helps us integrate these past experiences, so we can continue to live a life consistent with our values and truly thrive. Once troubling memories are processed, the symptoms of anxiety and trauma will diminish, leading to a greater sense of self and overall well-being.
How Does EMDR Therapy Work?
Rapid eye movement therapy is designed to identify disturbing memories that may have become "stuck" in the way they are stored in the brain, causing ongoing distressing symptoms of anxiety or trauma. EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation—typically eye movements—while focusing on distressing experiences to help clients get "unstuck" and reduce emotional turmoil. EMDR is an evidence-based treatment for trauma and PTSD. Ongoing research has demonstrated EMDR’s efficacy in treating anxiety, depression, eating disorders, grief and loss, and other emotional challenges.
Since it was first founded in the late 80s by Francine Shapiro, “EMDR treatment has been shown to help clients access and process traumatic memories so they no longer cause emotional distress.” EMDR treatment is now recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, and other global organizations for its effectiveness. Furthermore, “Currently, there are more than 30 randomized controlled trials demonstrating the effectiveness of EMDR therapy in clients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), thus providing a robust evidence base for EMDR therapy as a first-choice treatment for PTSD.”
Who Can Benefit From EMDR Therapy?
It’s impossible to think our way out of the impact of trauma. Trying to challenge our mindset by thinking more positively or practicing gratitude doesn’t help us process unresolved trauma when memories are stored improperly in the brain. When clients have been in talk therapy for months or years and feel stuck, they may need to find a different approach that goes beyond just talking.
Working with an EMDR-trained counselor can help both children and adults who are experiencing trauma or PTSD as a result of sexual or physical violence or abuse. Additionally, EMDR therapy can help those suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic disorders, phobias, depression, eating disorders, grief, and loss.
The first session involves the EMDR therapist gaining an understanding of the client’s problem and the factors that may be contributing to it. Then, we move into "resourcing" which helps clients build up helpful tools for regulating their emotions so they can experience a greater sense of calm. Next, we work together to choose what memory we are going to initially target in EMDR counseling. Oftentimes, we choose whatever past experience is causing the most emotional distress. We then target that issue by using bilateral stimulation (usually eye movement) to help get it processed and cleared. Once that issue has been resolved, the EMDR technique helps the brain find an adaptive resolution and store the memory in a way that no longer causes unwanted symptoms.
Why We Love EMDR Therapy
EMDR is a comprehensive treatment that can treat a myriad of issues. That being said, our therapists take an eclectic approach and may incorporate other modalities such as sand tray therapy, exposure therapy, or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to supplement EMDR, if appropriate.
After years of working with trauma survivors who reported that, after therapy, what they "knew" to be true wasn't matching up with what they "felt" to be true, we realized we needed a new approach. Although talk therapy had helped them acknowledge on an intellectual level that what had happened to them wasn’t their fault, this acknowledgment wasn’t diminishing the feelings of shame and guilt associated with past trauma.
Unlike talk therapy, EMDR works to process memories stuck within the brain. Rather than having to live with the aftermath of trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing treatment provides clients with a permanent solution to resolve their unwanted emotional distress. What’s more, with EMDR, clients don’t have to relive the troubling memory for the treatment to be effective. Although they will experience the event in their brain and body as they are guided through bilateral stimulation, clients only have to share what’s happening with their therapist as much as they are comfortable with, or not at all.
Incorporating EMDR treatment has transformed our practice. We have used it with clients ever since receiving training in 2014. We believe in it wholeheartedly which is why our founder, Jaime Castillo, went on to become an EMDRIA-approved Consultant, which allows her to provide consultation to other EMDR therapists. Many of the Find Your Shine therapists have also received advanced training and certification in EMDR Therapy.
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Find Out How EMDR Therapy Can Help You
To learn more about EMDR therapy, please visit our contact page or call
(480) 815-3211 to schedule a free 10-minute consultation with one of our therapists.