EMDR and Trauma
Most of us experience some sort of traumatic or overwhelming event in our lives. Trauma may be related to abuse, assault, unexpected accidents or illnesses or natural disasters. Other life events, if chronic or overwhelming, such as loss of a loved one, divorce, job changes or moves, can also have an impact on our life and result in trauma. How you experience an event determines how traumatic it is and how it affects your daily life and functioning. Reactions to trauma vary and can include fear, anxiety, phobias, irritability, agitation, poor concentration, replaying memories or events, feeling disconnected or numb, nightmares, sadness, changes in perception, feelings of guilt, difficulty trusting, and self-blame. EMDR is a multi-phase, evidenced based and integrative therapy approach for work with trauma and other overwhelming life events. I have had the privilege of training in EMDR and, when appropriate, have included this treatment approach in work with my clients. Several commonly asked questions about EMDR include:
What is EMDR and How Does it Work?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR is a means of helping the brain process information related to disturbing memories and overwhelming life events. EMDR is an efficient and effective treatment approach that often works faster than traditional talk therapy. It can be used with multiple other treatment approaches.
To further understand EMDR it helps to consider how our brains function. On a regular basis, our brains are trying to adapt, work through, and learn from our daily experiences and life events. However, when a life experience or series of events begin to take a toll or are traumatic, it is more difficult for our brain to process and resolve the experience. In these situations, the memory, along with all the associated thoughts, images, sensations and emotions may get stuck or trapped in the brain. When this happens, even long after the overwhelming event, our perceptions of ourselves, our feelings, our thoughts, our experiences and our relationships can be affected.
EMDR is an 8 phase process. One critical aspect of EMDR treatment includes bi-lateral stimulation (left-right patterns) which is used to support the brain in processing information (much like what research has found REM sleep patterns do while we are sleeping). When used thoughtfully and appropriately, EMDR, can help gently access, integrate and relieve disturbing memories, improve emotional and physical symptoms and overall quality of life.
Who Can Benefit From EMDR?
EMDR is beneficial for and I have seen positive results for any age group.
What Issues does EMDR Address
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Panic Attacks
- Distress related to infertility
What can you Expect from EMDR Treatment?
The process and outcome of EMDR treatment varies for each person. However, EMDR can help a person think about and experience past upsetting life events in a less distressing way. The issues that bother you become much more manageable. EMDR can relieve both emotional and physical symptoms. It increases a sense of purpose. It can reinforce the ability to adapt to past, present and future life events. After EMDR treatment, some people report an increase in calm and focus. Others describe improved relationships.
For more information about EMDR and EMDR research please visit the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) website.
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