Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy helps people recover from trauma and painful experiences and negatively stored information to reprogram their mind’s response to triggers and promote healing.
Trauma therapy is as dynamic as the individuals who need it; overcoming difficult experiences can keep us trapped in an endless loop of pain, anxiety, anger and self-doubt. You do not need to undergo a massive loss in order to experience trauma; we are not trying to only treat soldiers traumatized by war or survivors of horrific car accidents. In fact, many people that use EMDR in their therapy are using it to treat relationship issues, childhood experiences, negative beliefs, unhealthy patterns, anxieties and anticipated fears and the list goes on.
We want to help people change the way their brain reprocesses its response to traumatic memories and negatively stored information, and EMDR therapy presents the opportunity to do just that.
How EMDR Therapy Works
Trauma is processed in multiple areas of the brain. Two areas are specifically impacted: the amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The amygdala controls our brain’s stress response and fear; traumatic events can cause the amygdala to overreact, keeping us in a constant state of fear. This is why so many people feel like they’re reliving the exact moment over and over again whenever they experience a traumatic trigger.
Changing the Brain’s Response to Trauma
The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex control learning, decision-making, emotions and behavior. The brain is designed to respond to trauma, enacting a stress response that prepares our bodies to defend us from a threat.
Unfortunately, sometimes, the brain does not move forward from trauma. Rather than processing it as a memory and moving forward, people relive the same fear and panic over and over again. PTSD flashbacks, panic attacks, numbness, shutdown and overwhelming anxiety are all results of trauma, and EMDR is designed to alleviate them.
In EMDR therapy, your therapist will help you identify traumatic memories and your beliefs surrounding them. Then, positive beliefs are discussed and oriented as goals for treatment.
Rapid eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation are then used to help the brain process new information. This process connects the neural pathways that held the traumatic information to neural pathways that have the present and adaptive information in the brain hence giving the brain the information it needs to desensitize and reprocess.
You remain in the present, avoid panic and make a neurological shift in how your brain responds to the past. It’s less intrusive than traditional trauma treatment; you heal from the past whole safely rooted in the present moment.
What Does EMDR Therapy Treat?
EMDR is often associated with treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder but it actually treats so much more. EMDR’s use is endless. It is used to treat single incident traumas and complex and/or repeated trauma. It can help people struggling with self confidence, hope, grief, anxiety, despair, ruptures in relationships ect. EMDR is also used as a resource, resiliency building modality as well.
Mental health professionals have begun using EMDR as a treatment for conditions including Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), anxiety disorders, addiction and eating disorders and it’s often used as an early trauma on-set intervention.
If you are struggling with overcoming trauma, we can help. Whether you would like to try EMDR or explore other forms of therapy, contact us today to learn about your options. There is always help, and there is always hope.