EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a highly effective treatment for trauma/PTSD and moving past difficult life experiences in general. When we experience trauma or difficult life events which exceed our capacity to process and make sense of them, we can begin to experience certain problematic symptoms which interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. Some of these symptoms may include:
- Unwanted, upsetting intrusive memories
- Avoidance of trauma-related thoughts, feelings, or reminders
- Inability to recall key features of the trauma
- Negative thoughts about oneself or the world around us
- Guilt and shame
- Negative mood/emotions
- Decreased interest in activities once enjoyable to us
- Feelings of isolation
- Anger and irritability
- Risky or destructive behavior including substance abuse
- Hypervigilance and heightened startle response
- Difficulty concentrating
- Disturbed sleep
EMDR utilizes bilateral stimulation (BLS) in an effort to activate/enhance our brain’s natural capacity to process trauma, allowing us to move forward with less distress and disruption in our daily life.
Traditionally, EMDR uses eye movements as the primary source of BLS, but BLS can also be delivered using tactile stimulation which is what is used in my practice. During a session, the individual participating in EMDR holds a small device called a “tapper” in each hand which delivers alternating, gentle vibrations often experienced as soothing or relaxing. The individual then thinks about certain aspects of the traumatic experience while simultaneously noticing what other information arises into awareness (e.g. images, emotions, bodily sensations, other memories, etc.). The vibrations are then stopped in order to report whatever came up during the BLS. This process is repeated until the individual reports a reduction in their distress level while recalling the original difficult life experience.
It is important to note that EMDR is not intended to help you regain your memory of traumatic events. Also, EMDR will not cause you to forget the traumatic experience, but it may reduce the impact the experience has had in your life. The goal of EMDR is to decrease the level of distress around the experience by reducing the intensity and frequency of any problematic symptoms you may be struggling with. EMDR is also intended to help you integrate the traumatic experience into your life in a more meaningful and empowered way. Please call or email me for more information.