EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. In effect, it is a type of psychotherapy that has been studied in depth. As a result, it is shown to be effective in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other adverse life experiences. EMDR therapy is recommended for trauma victims by the American Psychiatric Association, Department of Defense, and World Health Organization.
You may have heard about EMDR through the media. Prince Harry and Sandra Bullock are just two famous people who have shared how EMDR therapy has made a difference in their lives. You may have heard about EMDR through The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, MD. However you might have first heard about EMDR therapy, your curiosity has peaked. Now you might be wondering if this type of therapy can help you or someone you know. As a therapist who specializes in EMDR Therapy in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, I can attest to the value and effectiveness of this type of treatment.
Watch the video below for a quick visual explanation of what EMDR Therapy is.
How does EMDR work?
When people think of EMDR, they typically picture phase 4 of the 8 phases of EMDR therapy. Phase 4 is the desensitization part of EMDR therapy where some type of bilateral stimulation is used while the client is focused on the trauma. EMDR, however, is a comprehensive eight-phase treatment approach.
A Memory-Based Approach
EMDR therapy is a memory-based approach focusing on reprocessing experiences from the past, present, and future. This three-pronged approach is called the Adaptive Information Processing Model. The AIP model believes that the present issues a client is experiencing relate to some event or events from the past that is unresolved.
Our brains are naturally processing, integrating, and storing away our daily experiences. When a traumatic event happens, however, it can be inadequately processed and maladaptively stored in the brain with the components (images, thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and beliefs) from that time. I often imagine it like a fragment set apart that can get “triggered” or lit up and re-experienced as if it’s happening in the here and now.
The trigger can be a sight, sound, smell, taste, or image. It can also be a relationship that triggers core beliefs or emotions. In addition, many of my clients feel triggered by people who are in authority over them. Bosses trigger core beliefs of “I’m not good enough” or emotions of being threatened and a lack of safety.
Reprocessing Long-Term Memories
EMDR therapy asks the client to bring those memories out from long-term memory to working memory and then uses bilateral stimulation and other methods to reprocess these events. These inadequately processed memories and their stored components of images, thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and beliefs change and shift during reprocessing. Clients’ brains make connections with helpful and adaptive information. During reprocessing, maladaptively stored events are desensitized, integrated, and adaptively stored.
Clients often report knowing that the event happened, but it feels neutral now. The physical, emotional, and psychological distress that was associated with the event is no longer there. Recently at the end of an EMDR intensive, a client reported, “I feel like someone has burned sage and cleansed me internally.”
Start EMDR Therapy in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware
Traumatic memories can impact us in many ways, making it hard to function. If you are struggling because you are stuck in the cycle of reliving past trauma, EMDR Therapy can help. As a therapist at Prosper Counseling, I am here to guide you on your journey to healing. Follow the steps below to get started.
- Get to know more about me here.
- Use the convenient online contact form to set up a consultation.
- Set up your first appointment and begin healing!
Other Mental Health Services at Prosper Counseling
Our in-person and online therapists in Pennsylvania specialize in EMDR treatment modalities. We offer EMDR Intensives, EMDR Therapy, and online counseling in addition to EMDR Therapy services. We understand that life can be full of challenges that make self-care difficult if not impossible. Allow us to help you reconnect with yourself and live the life you want full of confidence and free of regret. To learn more about Prosper Counseling check out our FAQs and Blog!