Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic technique that allows individuals to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress caused by negative or traumatic life events. It's often assumed that trauma and emotional pain take forever to heal, which is simply not true. Your body has an innate set of systems in place to heal from physical injury and your mind is no different. It can and wants to heal from psychological trauma.
EMDR is guided by the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model, which states trauma is stored and stuck in the brain's neural network. Often, it only takes being reminded of a piece of the memory for the entire event to be recalled. The goal of EMDR therapy is to help one reprocess the associated material of said traumatic experiences and add adaptive components to the brain's neural network.
Through reprocessing, one begins to connect with their authentic, personal power, allowing the meaning of these difficult experiences to transform on an emotional level. EMDR is an experiential process, meaning the session unfolds according to your unique needs, wants and life experiences chosen for reprocessing.
The process of EMDR is rather simple. I'll ask you purposeful questions related to the event and immediately after, ask you to hold the disturbance at the forefront of your mind while going into a set of eye movement or tapping. When we bring awareness to an event, we hold it in our working memory. Performing a second task while recalling the distressing event means both tasks must compete for the working memory’s resources. During this, the distressing memory transforms and re-stores in its new state. More information on EMDR and the brain's processing system can be found in my blog, Beyond Traditional Talk Therapy: EMDR.
Traumatic events produce exhaustion on many levels, emotionally, physiologically, and cognitively. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur when one has a difficult time recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. Triggers can bring back memories of the event, accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions.
Anxiety is characterized by persistent and excessive worry around a number of different things. While it's normal to feel anxious from time to time, excessive, ongoing anxiety is much more difficult to live with. Such anxiety and worry is difficult to control and can interfere with one's day to day activities.
Also known as compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma affects a broad range of health care providers and first responders. Vicarious trauma can occur when one is continually exposed to extreme emotional circumstances, either directly or indirectly, in an attempt to treat or support one who has experienced trauma.
While this varies per client, research from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs suggests EMDR to typically be administered in weekly, up to 90-minute individual sessions over the course of approximately 3 months. That beautiful feeling that comes with knowing this doesn't have to be permanent? Hope.
When you're ready, I invite you to schedule your free consultation at my Santa Clarita, CA therapy practice below.