“Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence.” — Peter Levine
Every human has experienced adverse life events that may have lead to difficulties in functioning. While many people call these events “trauma”, I like to think of adverse life experiences as anything that felt too much, too fast, too hard, too painful, too sad… anything that has felt “too”.
What is EMDR?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Therapists use the bilateral stimulation of the brain (ie: moving back and forth) using eye movements, audio sounds, or physical tapping/vibrations. EMDR therapists facilitate these bilateral movements while the client focuses on aspects of an adverse experience including mental pictures, thoughts, emotions, and body sensations. EMDR is not like talk therapy! While we’ll talk a bunch in the first few sessions, once we begin reprocessing, we let the brain heal itself as it was meant to.
My EMDR teacher used a brilliant metaphor to explain this. Have you ever eaten too much and you get a stomach ache? It’s because it was too much food and it was eaten too fast. Therefore, your body couldn’t digest it. When people go through adverse life events, it often occurs too fast, it’s too much, it’s too scary, or too upsetting. Our brain doesn’t digest it properly and therefore, people experience symptoms like: nightmares, anxiety, depression, anger, panic attacks etc. EMDR helps the brain digest memories and changes them to be more adaptive. EMDR will not make memories go away, but it’s been shown to make them less upsetting. Many of my clients experience new ways of remembering or thinking about the past experience which gives them a lot of comfort.
What do you help with?
- sexual trauma
- complex trauma/chronic trauma
- single traumas (ie car accident)
- Sexual issues
What can I expect during an EMDR session?
Depending on your needs, early sessions include a full history of you! We’ll talk about your symptoms, past treatment, family history, and your goals. Unlike typical talk therapy, we will not go into detail about your traumatic experiences because that often makes symptoms get worse.
We will spend early sessions building resources or coping skills that you will use during and after EMDR reprocessing sessions.
Once we agree that EMDR reprocessing is clinically appropriate, we will co-create a plan of memories, present-day triggers, and future actions to reprocess. I will guide you through this process using body-based tools. We will then begin reprocessing using bilateral stimulation.
It is most effective to meet weekly when reprocessing.
Can EMDR make me forget (ie: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)?
No. Although I love that movie and Kate Winslet’s hair. EMDR won’t make you forget the hard things that you’ve gone through. It can change your perspective though. While there’s no guarantee that you will have these experiences, many people have experienced:
- a reduction in trauma symptoms
- new realizations and understandings
- new ways of seeing themselves or the situation
- less fear
- less worry
More questions? Feel free to contact me for a free consult.