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EMDR Therapy: What is it and is it for me?

Perhaps you’ve heard the buzz about EMDR but don’t know quite what it is. Perhaps you’ve never heard about it but you’re seeking something…, anything to help you deal with your past hurts.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. Well that was a mouthful! EMDR Therapy is a cutting edge therapy for trauma. No one knows how any form of therapy actually works; we only have theories as to how they work. So the theory is that when a person is upset, their brain cannot process information as it normally does. The brain gets stuck on the traumatic event, looping it over and over in the mind. Along with this comes a return of feelings, images and thoughts about the trauma. The person often feels they are reliving it. These memories can interfere with the way a person sees the world and functions.

EMDR Therapy has an effect on the way the brain processes information and helps the person “reprocess” the information differently so that they no longer are disturbed by it. The person will still remember what has happened, but they less upset or bothered by it. This is the part that really excites me! I have seen people come into my office and just the mention of some painful event from the past brings them to immediate tears. After EMDR Therapy, they can talk about it easily and without those stinging emotions.

So what is a typical session like? The therapist and client work together to identify the worst part of a traumatic memory as well as thoughts the person has and any pictures, feelings or physical sensation. The therapist uses alternating hand taps, audible sounds or facilitates eye movements while the client focuses on the disturbing memory. Because each person processes information uniquely and at different paces, the eye movements are repeated until the person reports less disturbance and more positive beliefs about themselves. An example of this is “I did the best I could.”

Typical sessions last from 60 to 90 minutes but vary based on the individual needs of the person. The great part about EMDR Therapy is that the number of session is typically much fewer than other types of trauma therapy. The other cool thing is that EMDR Therapy has been proven in multiple psychological studies to work! The evidence shows that for most people, it is highly effective. Since it was first developed, it has also been studied on other conditions such as panic attacks, complicated grief, phobias, eating disorders, pain disorders, sexual and physical abuse and addictions.

Here are some comments from my clients who have experienced freedom from their past through EMDR Therapy:

“I don’t know why, but it (the child abuse) just doesn’t bother me anymore.” – Rosalyn

“Wow, is that supposed to happen? This EMDR really works!” (commenting about a complete shift in his thinking from negative to positive)- Mark

For a more in-depth example of how EMDR Therapy actually works in a real life case, see my chapter in the book Amazon Best Selling book entitled Limitless Possibilities: Stories of Hope and Change.