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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy

When the Past Becomes the Present

Perhaps you have said or heard somebody else say, “Oh! That was a trigger for me.” What this refers to is a present cue from your environment – such as a person, place, situation, or object – that contributes to an almost automatic emotional or behavioral reaction from you, even beliefs and/or images.

Sometimes such responses are pleasant; for instance, a cookie-baking aroma may evoke comfortable feelings and memories from your childhood when your somebody lovingly baked cookies for you, especially your favorite kind. On the other hand, your response to a present trigger may be distressing: persistent negative emotions, beliefs, or behavior that bother you – even other people.

In the extreme, when exposed to a trigger you may involuntarily feel like a past distressing event is happening all over again (this is known as a flashback, a PTSD symptom). This limits your ability to fully enjoy your everyday life – it may get to the point when you start to avoid safe situations that trigger you.

An life-threatening experience (for example, war, tornado, car accident) may lead to developing PTSD, yet science has shown that childhood abuse and/or neglect and everyday life experiences, such as relationship problems or a job loss, can produce just as many, and sometimes even more, symptoms of PTSD or complex PTSD.

Although we have come to rely heavily on pills or other substances for feelings of well-being, often they only mask the symptoms, and “talking it out” sometimes just doesn’t “cut it" and may even flood you!

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

The way our memories of past experiences are stored in the brain is the basis for much pain and suffering, and this can be changed. Distressing memories can be transformed into ones without emotional charge that then are appropriately stored in the brain and become the basis of joy and mental health. EMDR is a brain-based therapy that can help you do just that.

In EMDR your brain processes these distressing memories naturally so that they no longer produce suffering when remembered – it also neutralizes the negative emotional charge in response to your present triggers – and this helps to change your thoughts and behavior, too.

EMDR can help you process and resolve childhood trauma, ranging from such a common situation as growing up with a critical caregiver to as severe as having experienced child abuse and/or neglect repeatedly.

Check out the following YouTube video: How EMDR therapy works in your brain

What Other Problems Can EMDR Treat?

In addition to treating PTSD very effectively, therapists have used EMDR to successfully treat:

  • Anxiety and Panic Attacks
  • Addictions
  • Phobias
  • Self-Esteem and Performance Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Personality Disorders (for example, Borderline Personality Disorder)
  • Sleep Problems
  • Complicated Grief
  • Stress
  • Pain Relief, Phantom Limb Pain

Take Chris, for instance.

Chris reported experiencing extreme stress and anxiety related to making inconsequential mistakes at his job – even at playing his favorite sport (present triggers). Aware that this reaction appeared to disproportionate to these separate yet similar situations, Chris underwent EMDR.

As part of EMDR, Chris identified two childhood experiences with his main caretakers – and associated negative beliefs about the self – that Chris’s memory network linked to the present triggers. Chris’s brain processed these childhood experiences over the course of less than ten EMDR sessions. Afterward, Chris reported experiencing NO emotional distress when exposed to present triggers as well as thinking more realistically not only about making mistakes (“It’s OK to make mistakes”), but also about himself (“I can be myself”).

What EMDR Is and Isn’t

EMDR produces positive treatment outcomes at an accelerated rate compared to other types of therapy (for example, talk therapy). It is not a hoax or fad; EMDR is not “too good to be true.” EMDR is designated as an effective treatment by several organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Simply put: EMDR works! Not only science says so, but as a EMDR Certified Therapist myself I have witnessed people’s own amazing transformation and healing in a relatively short period of time. Some of them have reported that they had never been able to achieve such rapid healing via talk therapy, and improvement is maintained long term.

EMDR helps you transform thoughts, feelings, and reactions, and this can lower your distress and increase comfort, confidence, and peace.

If you are interested in undergoing EMDR therapy, I can explain more about how it works and can help address your specific issue.

If you don’t make peace with your past, it will keep showing up in your present.

To know more, call me today for a free, confidential 20-minute consultation.