What Is It?
EMDR – (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
is one of the one of the THE MOST highly studied and proven methods available for healing trauma today. It is safe with no side effects, permanent, non invasive, does not require the use of medication and does not re-traumatize the participant.
You, the client, control the entire process-from the level of your subconscious.
How Does It Work?
EMDR directly accesses the subconscious roots of a trauma.
EMDR neutralizes the ‘triggers’ which cause symptoms associated with the original trauma.
Neural networks are the branching neural systems of the brain that automatically fire to create and coordinate thoughts, feelings, activity, reactivity etc. EMDR works by rerouting the reactive firings of neural networks from the imprinted or habitual trauma response, to a new, neutralized neural pathway.
or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, results when a certain, specific trauma based reaction is imprinted in the brains neural pathways from what was perceived to be a life threatening situation. Being ‘triggered’ happens when we are in someway reminded of a trauma we experienced in the past and react as if it is happening in present time. We may experience the symptoms of the old trauma: fight, flight or freeze. Triggers could be anything that remind one of the original trauma such as smells, sounds, objects, places, even people or situations associated with the original trauma, thus causing the body to react as if the original trauma is currently happening.
These ‘triggers’ set off the subtle, habitual, imprinted trauma firing networks in the brain that create flashbacks with associated anxiety, panic, racing heartbeat and pulse, etc. The hallmark of PTSD is that we respond inappropriately, as if we are in mortal danger in the present when in actuality, the threat is long past.
EMDR, when successful, completely neutralizes these triggers.
How Long Does it Take?
Some clients, especially children, can clear these triggers/trauma very quickly. Others with more complex trauma histories may take weeks or months of reprocessing to complete the healing. Each session and treatment plan is as individual as each client and their needs.
What does the Actual Process Look Like?
During the EMDR process, the brain is given (non invasive) alternating bilateral stimulation: either visually, auditorily (through listening to alternating sound cues through headphones), or through tactile stimulation (tapping) on the hands. As a result, the brain alternately fires each side of the brain – right, left, right, left -over and over, which activates the para-sympathetic nervous system, thus bringing the client into a deep peaceful state.
From this lucid, altered state of consciousness we access the associated subconscious material needing to be processed and released. In this state, it is not difficult to access the memories, beliefs and the source of the triggers and the traumatic injury. These are the pieces of information that are linked together in the neural networks and are the source of the habitual reactivity of the client.
itself directs the healing process by bringing up the appropriate memories, sensations, feelings and beliefs that are directly relevant to the healing process, according to what the client is ready for and able to manage. Slowly, neural networks (fears, thoughts, beliefs) that were created during the original trauma as attempts to ‘survive’ the perceived life threatening incident (this is a definition of trauma) surface during this calm, lucid state and are gently brought up to the conscious mind, reprocessed and neutralized.
Relevant memories, sensations, thoughts or beliefs that are contributing to the ‘triggering’ patterns naturally surface as they are ready to be released. These may be anything from a long entrenched negative beliefs such as “I will never be good enough” to a specific traumatic memory or memories that inhibit normal functioning.
Once the trauma based beliefs, memories and or experiences are identified, they become conscious. We may then consciously reroute the the response network to a more positive one.
We actually neutralize and replace these negative response networks with new, positive neural networks/beliefs/thoughts.
Overall, EMDR is a fascinating, enjoyable, educational and profound process for those who are ready to find deep healing and resolution from PTSD and trauma.