What is EMDR?

brown-eyeEye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro after she noticed that certain movements of the eyes reduced her distressing feelings.

EMDR has gained momentum over the past 30 years, and its therapeutic applications continue to broaden.  For more information and research, visit www.emdria.org.

When is EMDR helpful?

gate-lockEMDR is helpful in cases where a person knows how they want to think, feel, or behave, and yet they feel hijacked by their bodies and emotions.  I often describe it as “a mind-body split.”  People know what they want, and yet their bodies are doing something else.  In many cases, clients have tried to work on and resolve these issues in traditional talk therapy with limited success.

EMDR has many applications, including but not limited to: panic attacks, PTSD symptoms, unresolved trauma, intrusive thoughts, anxiety and stress, phobias, test and performance anxiety, agoraphobia, impulse control issues, depression, procrastination, anger issues, chronic pain, shame and self-esteem concerns, self-defeating behaviors, emotion dysregulation, adjustment concerns, and unresolved grief.

What does an EMDR session look like?

Before our first EMDR session, I will take time to explain the method to you and answer any questions you have.

EMDR sessions are either planned ahead of time or agreed upon at the beginning of a session.  If we decide to use EMDR in that session, the majority of the session is dedicated to using the EMDR method (30-45 minutes), with time at the end of session (5-10 minutes) to debrief.

The client is always “in the driver seat” of an EMDR session, and can always take a break or choose to stop the eye movements for any reason.

How does EMDR work?

blue-zenThere are different theories about this question.  The two theories that resonate for me are about (1) bilateral stimulation of the brain, and (2) being in a parasympathetic state while revisiting triggering material.

Bilateral stimulation activates brain structures involved in trauma processing and recovery in ways that talk therapy cannot.

When we are in a sympathetic (flight/fight/freeze) state, we often cannot effectively process information.  A parasympathetic state with focused attention allows the brain and body to effectively reprocess the material.

What are the risks of EMDR?

Clients may cry and/or feel tired.  I take special care to make sure clients feel empowered by and prepared for their sessions so that potential strong feelings remain manageable.

What are the benefits of EMDR?   

There are many benefits to EMDR.  A few main reasons people choose or prefer EMDR include:

♦ EMDR can be used to target a specific issue or concern.

♦ EMDR can help improve self-awareness, the mind-body connection, self-soothing, and stress-reduction.

♦ Because EMDR works through the body and central nervous system, the client does not have to “know” or “understand” their issues clearly – your body will do the work and knows what to do.

♦ EMDR can be effective for issues that go beyond the benefits of talk therapy.

♦ EMDR works through the body, so clients can often work through very sensitive matters without having to “tell their story” or share material that makes them uncomfortable.

♦ Many complex issues can be resolved in 6-10 EMDR sessions, making it an efficient method and affordable commitment.

♦ EMDR is sometimes described as “therapy in fast-forward,” which is appealing for those who do not want longer-term therapy.

I am not interested in EMDR… Can I still see you for therapy?

Certainly, yes!  I do not use EMDR with all my clients.  And even if EMDR is my recommendation, I always trust the client to decide if EMDR is something they would like to try and/or continue.