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Embodied Psychotherapy

Trauma Informed Somatic Psychotherapy, Consultation & Training

"Something changed the first time I had EMDR and if I could put one word to it ... it would be hope."

(from "Healing Trauma" Public Awareness Film for EMDR Therapy)

What is EMDR Therapy?

http://www.emdr.com

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. To follow the metaphor, when you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with psychological processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR help clients activate their natural healing processes.

Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for post traumatic stress. However, clinicians also have reported success, and numerous studies to date show a high degree of effectiveness with the following conditions:

loss of a loved one

injury of a loved one

car accident

fire

work accident

assault

robbery

rape

natural disaster

injury

illness

witness to violence

childhood abuse

victims of violent crimes

performance and test anxiety

trauma

depression

anxiety or panic

phobias

fears

childhood trauma

physical abuse

sexual abuse

post traumatic stress

bad temper

overwhelming fears

panic attacks

low self-esteem

relationship problems

brooding or worrying

trouble sleeping

EMDR therapy can help clients replace their anxiety and fear with positive images, emotions and thoughts.

  • High anxiety and lack of motivation
  • Depression
  • Memories of a traumatic experience
  • Fear of being alone
  • Unrealistic feelings of guilt and shame
  • Fear of being alone
  • Difficulty in trusting others
  • Relationship problems

How Does EMDR Work?

No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their 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 the way they relate 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, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.

EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment. Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used during one part of the session. After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, he asks the client to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision. As this happens, for reasons believed by a Harvard researcher to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, internal associations arise and the clients begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level. For instance, a rape victim shifts from feeling horror and self-disgust to holding the firm belief that, “I survived it and I am strong.” Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes. The net effect is that clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that once debased them. Their wounds have not just closed, they have transformed. As a natural outcome of the EMDR therapeutic process, the clients’ thoughts, feelings and behavior are all robust indicators of emotional health and resolution—all without speaking in detail or doing homework used in other therapies.