“Trauma results in a fundamental reorganization of the way mind and brain manage perceptions. It changes not only how we think and what we think about, but also our very capacity to think.” – Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D., The Body Keeps the Score
Growing up in a home with alcoholism, addiction, mental illness, or ongoing abuse and/or neglect leaves a lasting imprint that can shape experiences throughout our adulthood. While you survived those experiences, it may have been through the aide of unhealthy – albeit necessary – coping skills that are no longer serving you but remain difficult to leave behind.
While it can be painful to revisit difficult experiences, doing so in a safe setting that allows you to integrate those experiences can move you from merely surviving in your current life to thriving. I use a variety of approaches to heal traumatic memories including EMDR, Internal Family Systems and other parts focused approaches, and creative and experiential therapeutic interventions.
What is EMDR?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is widely recognized for the treatment of trauma, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.
It has also been used to successfully treat:
Body dysmorphic disorders
Sexual and/or Physical abuse
Upsetting Childhood Events (which have caused low self - esteem or confidence problems)
How does EMDR work? No one knows exactly how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, his/her brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes "frozen in time", and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven't changed. Such memories have a lasting
negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and relates to other people.
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, it can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.
Does EMDR really work? To date, EMDR has helped an estimated two million people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress. It has been recognized by the National Institute of Health as an effective form of therapy backed by research. Approximately 20 controlled studies have investigated the effects of EMDR. These studies have consistently found that EMDR effectively decreases/eliminates the symptoms of post-traumatic stress for the majority of clients. Clients often report improvement in other associated symptoms such as anxiety. The current treatment guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies designate EMDR as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress. For more information, see www.emdria.org.