Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

For Individuals (Young Adults and Adults)

What can we apply EMDR for?

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For Trauma

Trauma victims live in a body that is always on guard.  Whether you lived a bad experience in grade school, with your parents, you were a victim of a horrific crime or witnessed something bad to someone else, you and your body may be affected by trauma. EMDR is an evidence-based approach you can try. Many people in their lifetime don’t know it but they have probably been affected by some sort of trauma

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For Anxiety

Trauma is most likely where your anxiety started.  Also, prolonged stress can turn it into a panic disorder.  You have tried techniques to deal with your excessive worry without much success, but EMDR can potentially go to the source of the problem and be a more efficient treatment.  If you are a true worrier, you avoid instead of approach. Now it’s time to try a different anxiety approach you might not have heard of.

Areas I can help you with EMDR 

PTSD Flashbacks

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A highly traumatic incident occurs and it overwhelms your system.  Your brain freezes a memory and present triggers activate the past (something that looks like it, sounds like it, smells like it).  These past experiences are relived as though they are happening now.  The frozen memory hijacks the brain’s functioning.  You are unable to replace that memory with something more adaptable.

Frozen Memories

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This is the same as Post Traumatic Stree Disorder, where a traumatic incident ignited your emotional brain and the intensity of the incident’s emotions sent a message to your brain to fight, flight, freeze, numb, or dissociate.  Your brain locked it out and now prevents itself from updating with a better experience.  Your sleep pattern is disturbed and nightmares start to occur, among other disruptions in your life.

Ambiguity (Two Choices)

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Want to change jobs but are unsure if you should leave the current one?  Want to decide which career to take?  EMDR can help you get clarity in your brain to help you understand which decision is better for you.

Phobias

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People usually develop phobias as a result of a traumatic experience.  EMDR can help desensitize the specific phobia and work forward to anticipate an instance where a person might come in contact with what brings them phobia.  EMDR is NOT exposure therapy.

Grief

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Erasing the memory of loved ones is not possible. EMDR can help improve the quality of the memory associated with the loss of the loved one, to become less emotionally charged.  Disturbances can be diminished, not the importance of the loving connection.

Anxiety

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EMDR will help you identify your core beliefs regarding anxiety, develop a targeted plan addressing past memories, present, and future triggers, and run future adaptive responses to situations that would potentially activate the anxiety.

What is EMDR?

One of the most fascinating aspects of EMDR is that people may be able to heal from trauma without having to talk about it.  EMDR allows you to observe your experience in a new way without having to tell others what you remember.   

You will be able to stay fully focused on your internal experience, much like observing from the inside of a train and seeing your unwanted memories pass you by.  Memories are not entirely removed but they will be reprocessed in a way that is more adaptive to you.  

It can help even if the client and the therapist don’t have an established relationship.  In other words, you can have your regular talk therapist and go see an EMDR therapist for a few sessions, then go back to your regular therapist. 
After an EMDR session, the memories that are distressing can be reprocessed as an event that happened in your past, instead of experiencing sensations and images associated with it.  Your brain is usually capable of doing this without any conscious input.  With the use of EMDR, the therapist will help integrate the traumatic memory and lay it to rest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is EMDR like hypnosis?

No.  Hypnosis involves the therapist making suggestions to you.  In EMDR, you are in control.  You are also awake and can interrupt the process at any time.

What can I expect after an EMDR session?

  • Desensitization of a highly traumatic memory
  • Restructuring of negative belief about yourself 
  • Better sleep, fewer nightmares, and reduction of flashbacks/startle response

Do I need to relive my trauma? I don’t like to talk about it.

One of the good advantages of EMDR is that it is NOT necessary for the client to verbalize what happened.  This therapy is work done on your brain, so you don’t have to talk about it.

How long does the session last?

The same as a talk therapy session, 50 minutes.

Can you provide more technical details?

During REM sleep, you might have noticed some people moving their eyes.  This is your brain processing your memory.  EMDR simulates the same concept.  It applies bilateral stimulation as a catalyst for neural network activation.  Bilateral stimulation seems to activate the adaptive information processing system.

How many sessions are necessary until I see changes?

It depends on each case, however, a minimum of 2-3 sessions is necessary due to the steps involved.