What Is EMDR Therapy?
Do you think there might be trauma in your past, but you’re not sure? Does it seem like your brain can’t digest painful memories? When you experience a traumatic event, your nervous system becomes so overwhelmed that it cannot process what happened. As a result, you feel “frozen” in time, as if the past is still happening in the present. Your brain expects the experience to repeat itself, keeping you on high alert at all times.
EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a form of therapy that seeks to help the brain reprocess painful memories. The end-goal is for you to recall what happened to you without feeling re-traumatized. Instead, you will learn to form positive thoughts and beliefs connected to your memories, such as “I am safe now” or “Trauma is not my fault.” EMDR can help you reengage with the present and stop projecting old emotional wounds onto your life today.
Founded by Dr. Francis Shapiro in 1987, EMDR has been proven effective in reducing and eliminating symptoms of post-traumatic stress for most clients. EMDR can also help people suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, depression, complex grief, and many other mental health issues. The American Psychological Association considers EMDR an effective form of PTSD treatment and numerous studies attest to its benefits.
How The EMDR Process Begins
I take a very spiritual, holistically-minded approach to EMDR therapy. Prior to beginning actual EMDR treatment, I start by building and installing positive experiences in the body. This process is the resourcing stage of EMDR. The focus is on establishing safety and preparing you to confront difficult memories without feeling overwhelmed. All of EMDR treatment is a dance between resourcing and processing—you will use resourcing skills to help you feel less alone as you deal with trauma.
I use a wide variety of activities in the resourcing stage, including visualization, music, shamanic journeying, and other somatic interventions. These practices will help you connect with your innermost self and make you feel protected as we work together. Depending on your individual beliefs, we may use spiritual symbols—such as an animal, an element, or even a religious figure—that endow you with a sense of power when you feel stressed. That said, the resourcing techniques I use are adaptable to any belief system. You don’t have to consider yourself spiritual or religious to benefit from them.
How EMDR Helps The Brain And Body Digest Painful Memories
Once you are ready to begin processing your trauma, we will concentrate on your traumatic memory as if it was a photo right in front of you. Next, we will connect the memory to a negative thought or belief that you hold because of it, such as “I am unsafe,” “I am unworthy,” or “trauma is my fault.” Then you will begin the EMDR process, moving your eyes from side to side in the same motion that they perform when you are asleep. These repeated eye movements will activate the brain so that you experience positive changes in the way that you perceive the memory. As a result, you can replace negative thoughts and beliefs with positive ones (e.g., “I am safe now,” “I am worthy,” etc.).
How, exactly, does moving your eyes from side to side help your nervous system digest trauma? Think of it as a breathing exercise. When you breathe deeply to calm yourself, each breath helps your body let go of stress. In the same way, the eye movements in EMDR help the body release the overwhelm of trauma. They help your brain connect new experiences to painful memories.
In the end, the greatest benefit of EMDR therapy is that it gets to the core of your trauma without making you relive your experiences. Unlike ordinary talk therapy, EMDR does not require you to discuss what happened to you, ensuring you feel safe and secure as you explore your past. Combined with spiritual resourcing and a wide range of somatic interventions, EMDR can help you process and resolve old emotional wounds and tap into your body’s infinite capacity to heal.
My History With EMDR Therapy
I’ve been working with trauma survivors since 2009 and have been using EMDR therapy since 2011. I have a Master’s degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy and worked for four years as a researcher in the field of neuroscience. As a result, I believe I bring the best of both worlds to my EMDR practice—I understand the brain on both a contemplative, spiritual level and a technical, scientific one. I can give clients psychoeducation on how the nervous system works and equip them with mindfulness strategies to help them achieve spiritual peace.
As a trauma specialist, I’ve had the privilege of walking alongside many people in their healing journeys. I’ve seen them start out anxious and overwhelmed, only to conclude their treatment joyful and resilient. I am confident that I can help you do the same.
Tap Into Your Body’s Infinite Capacity To Heal
If you want to overcome the pain of the past and reengage with your life today, I would be honored to work with you. To begin your journey of healing and empowerment, you can visit my contact page or text me your name and your main concern at 720-809-7709. You can also check out my blogs and vlogs to better understand how I approach EMDR counseling.