Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment method that has been extensively researched and proven effective to help individuals overcome trauma, anxiety, and depression. EMDR was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987, who discovered how spontaneous eye movements helped to reduce distress. When distressing events (or trauma) occur, they can get locked in the brain with the original picture, sounds, smells, and other sensory information. This stuck information or "old stuff" remains unprocessed in your short-term memory, making it easily retrieved and remembered. Through eye movements, tapping, or bilateral audio and the help of a trained professional, your brain can learn to reprocess all of this "old stuff" to unlock the healing process.
Click on the button below to find out more about EMDR at EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) or emdria.org
Trauma is any distressing event that becomes stuck. Trauma can be significant such as being the victim of a violent crime, childhood abuse (sexual or physical), childhood neglect, domestic violence, or living with a loved one struggling with addiction. But, it can also be small, such as being made fun of on the playground as a kid for wearing a funny outfit. Either way, big or small, this distressing event becomes stuck in your mind, making it difficult to forget. Sometimes you may not have a clear image of the event, but the feeling in the body or negative beliefs constructed about yourself remain.
Trauma or PTSD results in feelings of fear, shame, guilt, or anger, and it can often be the root of depression and anxiety. Often, people also struggle with poor sleep, nightmares, or tension in the body.
When trauma occurs, it can feel like it is constantly happening in the present moment. Trauma is like a bunch of loose pieces of paper cluttering your workspace. You must frequently touch the paper and move it out of your way to get through your day. Then every time the paper is touched, it reminds you of the trauma. EMDR helps you finally take all those loose papers and file them away to clean up your present and make way for the future.
Clients often ask towards the end of therapy about why EMDR worked so much better than talk therapy. Many of these clients have come to try this crazy, weird EMDR therapy after years of talk therapy with minimal lasting results. Clients say they do well while in talk therapy and feel good, but it doesn't last, or they forget to use the skills they learned in talk therapy. Here is an analogy of a Word document to explain one difference between EMDR and talk therapy.
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