My experience as a psychotherapist has shown me where trauma is often the core of many of our problems. Traumatic experiences pushes us into “fight or flight mode,” a survival skill which helps us survive the trauma but makes it harder for us to see situations clearly. Even when we have an intellectual understanding of our problem, many of us can’t resolve the problem in what might seem to be a rational way. This is because the connections between the part of our brain that remembers trauma and our rational thinking brain are very weak.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It has been extensively researched helps us establish connections between the rational parts of the brain and the “fight or flight” part so that we are well equipped to solve the challenges ahead of us. There are many phases of an EMDR treatment, described in detail here. The phase of the treatment that most distinguishes EMDR from most other treatments is where the therapist uses a series of eye movements (or other types of stimulation) to help process past events that are often triggering.
One advantage of this treatment is that not all negative experiences need to be remembered and processed. These traumatic experiences are often linked in our minds, meaning that when we are able to gain insight about some of the traumatic experiences, we might be able to gain insight into all of them quite quickly. Many EMDR treatments focus on both past and present negative experiences, and help people cope with negative feelings about events that may happen in the future.
While EMDR might involving the waving of fingers in front of a person’s face in order to stimulate eye movement, I am not engaging in hypnosis or waving a magic wand. EMDR is real work, but is often quicker than talking therapy alone or treatments like Cognitive-Behavior Therapy and step-by-tep desensitization. Often, the act of “resourcing” or using visualization to help cope with difficult memories is a critical part of the EMDR training, and can be every bit as important as desensitization itself.
I have completed basic training in EMDR and am now able to offer it to my clients. Treatment will differ from person to person depending on personal history and current situations. If you are interested in pursuing this treatment, let me know.