EMDR is a type of psychotherapy used to treat troubling symptoms such as anxiety, panic attacks, guilt, anger, depression, sleep disturbances, and flashbacks that are the result of traumatic experiences. EMDR therapy has been proven to be effective in reducing these chronic symptoms that follow trauma and the benefits appear to be permanent. Part of the treatment involves bilateral stimulaton of the brain while focusing on the past trauamtic event. Bilateral stimulation occurs by the client either watching the therapist finger move back and forth, or by having the therapist tap bilaterally on the client’s knees, or by the client listening to a headset with alternating tones.
Research has been done and continues to be done to understand how EMDR works. It is known that the brain has a natural mechanism for processing disturbing events. When a traumatic event is overwhelming, the brain may not be able to process it in the usual way. That is why severely traumatized people often find themselves stuck in disturbing memories long after the traumatic event has passed. Research suggests that an important part of the natural trauma processing happens during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which provides alternation stimulation of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. During this time information is processed and stored into long-term memory. This may help to explain why EMDR therapy seems to jump-start the brain’s natural healing ability. This allows the traumatic memory to be stored in long-term memory in a healthy way without the negative emotions and beliefs.
There are two types of trauma, big “T” trauma and little “t” trauma. Big “T” traumas are the major horrific events, like combat, rape, or the loss of a loved one. Little “t” traumas are the smaller everyday chronic horrors, like daily negative childhood messages leading to a girl to grow up believing she will never be good enough. EMDR can help heal both types of trauma. EMDR therapy can be a very intense emotional experience but only temporarily. It is not appropriate for those who are unwilling or unable to tolerate disturbing emotions. An EMDR therapist must take a thorough history to determine if and how EMDR can be used as part of an overall treatment plan.
EMDR is now the most researched treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many scientific studies have shown it is effective and long lasting. EMDR therapy has validation from the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Department of Defense and the Veteran’s Administration when it comes to treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For more information on research you can visit www.emdr.com.
EMDR treatment can help people who have experienced any of the following:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Chronic worrying
- Panic Disorder
- Panic attacks
- History of being bullied as a child
- Unresolved grief
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Victim of a crime
- Witness to a violent or traumatic event
- Overwhelming fears
- Abandonment or neglect issues
- Disturbing memories
I have found EMDR to be effective and quicker than other types of therapy. If you are interested in EMDR or have questions about it please feel free to contact me by going to my website at www.ocanxietycounseling.com.