I am a trained EMDR practitioner and I like to use this therapy to help people heal after bad things happen like sexual assault, abuse, losses, or other traumatic events.
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is one of the most effective and efficient forms of trauma-focused therapies. EMDR can be used to diminish depression, anxiety, and trauma-related symptoms. In EMDR, I ask you to focus on painful parts of a past event (sexual assault, a loss, or other trauma). As you do, we will use bilateral stimulation by having you follow my guided back and forth movements with an EMDR baton. This form of movement is something our eyes do naturally during REM sleep and it seems to help us store memories in a way that aids the healing process.
What should I expect from EMDR therapy?
When something bad happens our brain doesn’t store the memory in the same way it stores memories for other events. The traumatic memory still feels very much alive and real, as if it is still happening now in your mind and body. This can come out in nightmares, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, jumpiness, feeling on edge, depression, avoiding things that remind you of the event, and other post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
EMDR helps your brain store the traumatic memory so it feels like it is in the past. It won’t be like the event never happened but it should feel like it is over now. My clients often describe a sense that the memory has lost its “charge” and no longer holds the same power.
What happens in a session?
EMDR is a highly personal experience so will look slightly different for everyone. In general, when both you and I assess it’s the right time in your life (you have good supports, resources, safety, and stability), we will start EMDR by focusing your attention on a painful memory and engaging in the eye movements. EMDR can bring up difficult emotions and body sensations. It is important we work slowly and in “bite size” chunks so you don’t get overwhelmed. I will continually check-in with you to make sure you are feeling safe and in control. To read more about what it is like to do EMDR see my post here about this.
If you think you may benefit from EMDR you can contact me for a free phone consultation and to set up an appointment. I always recommend we get to know one another in several assessment sessions before we decide when and if EMDR might be appropriate for you.
I use EMDR together with other trauma treatments like sensorimotor psychotherapy or as an adjunctive therapy for clients who are happy with their current therapist and are looking for specific trauma work.