An Introduction to EMDR Therapy

An Introduction to EMDR Therapy

by Nicole Vega, LMSW

 

 

Brought to you by popular demand, I am here today to talk to you about EMDR, which is a therapy platform that I have been recently trained in. I think it is fantastic and it might be something you ought to consider if you are struggling with things such as anxiety, depression, weight loss, or whatever situation is unique to you.

For those of you who do not know much about it, EMDR was discovered by Francine Shapiro who is an incredible woman, that came upon this healing psychodynamic modality by going through her own struggles and journey for health. She came across what we now know as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR Therapy) – bilateral eye movements that we use to desensitize [traumatic memories, somatic feelings in the body, and anxiety and depressive feelings] and [help] improve people’s quality of life. She came across [EMDR] during her battle with cancer when she was out walking in nature one day and realized that the eye movement she had while walking and looking at different aspects of nature, left her feeling less stressed and overall better. She used that experience to create this incredible platform for healing – this therapeutic approach, EMDR, that I am now trained in. [EMDR therapy has not been verified as the most effective treatment for trauma and PTSD is existence (Research Here)].

A lot of folks want to know why [EMDR] works. Why does sitting in a room with me holding TheraTappers, have the earphones on, or watching the line on the little light beam work [cause your somatic and psychological symptoms to decrease]? The truth to the matter is that we do not know exactly why it works, but we do have an idea. We know that EMDR is similar to what happens in the brain during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which means that EMDR Therapy is a physiological therapy that aids in memories going from distressing to less so (“How Does EMDR Work?” n.d.). Essentially by the bilateral eye movement, the brain can start to reprocess a disturbing memory to just a regular memory which helps the person better able to cope (“How Does EMDR Work? n.d.). We do not know all the ins-and-outs, all the pieces and details; but we do know that the outcomes are great. There are studies that show that EMDR has a longer lasting and better effect in reducing symptoms of PTSD compared to psychotropic medications (“EMDR Therapy Research Overview” (n.d.)).

Why do we struggle with things like anxiety and depression? Well, there are a number of reasons. We know that it is not just one certain factor and I’m a believer that most things are not just one factor [there are factors including social, psychological, emotional, life circumstances, biological, environmental, existential and more]. We now know that we can heal, improve, and [influence] change in areas of the brain that we used to think we couldn’t. We used to think that if an area of the brain is damaged, that it’s damaged for good; we now know that’s not true. We now know that there are techniques that can be used to promote healing. There were a lot of things that we through were broken, but simply just needed repair. Our brains are strong and amazing, they coordinate all of our functions in our body, but sometimes (just like other parts of our bodies) they need help too. I think we often overlook simple solutions and automatically assume that for something to work, it has to be complicated; it has to involve all of this work, to be challenging, etc. But if you’re doing all of that and it’s not working, maybe it’s time to try an easier approach where the therapist can take the lead and assist you with recovery. The cool thing about EMDR therapy is that it is a therapist leading you and your body to heal, so the therapist is not healing you. Therapists don’t heal people; we don’t give you the answers, we do not fix it. What we do is we hold space; we create that safe space that is needed for healing. With a therapist having proper training and technique, that can lead to your own healing, whether it is with trauma, relationship struggles, career struggles, etc. EMDR will be a good option for you.

Resources

“How Does EMDR Work?” (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.emdria.org/page/119

“EMDR Therapy Research Overview” (n.d.). Retrieved from  http://www.emdr.com/research-overview/

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