Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) unlocks the individual’s innate power to heal and to set themselves free from distressing and traumatic events. While the effects of EMDR may feel magical, EMDR is firmly rooted in psychology, neuroscience, somatic psychology, attachment, information processing, and the power of the human spirit.
EMDR was accidentally discovered by Dr. Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s, as she was taking a walk to relieve stress. She noticed herself moving her eyes side-to-side, just taking in the scenery around her. At the end of her walk she felt more relaxed and no longer disturbed by the problems she was grappling over. She became curious.
After decades of exploration and research, EMDR has become the gold standard in the treatment of trauma resolution (PTSD, C-PTSD, Acute Stress), as well as being shown to be highly effective at treating phobias, anxiety, addiction, and issues related to chronic pain and illness.
How EMDR Works
EMDR invites us to become curious about the underlying traumas driving our present-day stressors, undesired behaviors and emotional pain and relationship struggles. Many of us may know the exact moments that our trauma was locked in our minds, bodies and spirits. Others may not have a clear image of what it is that impacts us so deeply.
Through its eight stages and its intentional focus on past, present and future material, EMDR facilitates awareness, mindfulness, compassion, learning and transformation.
Trust and honesty in the therapeutic relationship are essential to the safety and effectiveness of EMDR.
The Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model is the foundation upon which EMDR operates. The AIP model describes how the brain categorizes, processes and integrates information in an associative and generalizing fashion. We know that traumatic information is stored much differently in the brain than apparently benign information. Traumatic material is improperly stored and not fully digested by the brain. What this means is that traumatic memory networks form, which are unable to integrate with adaptive memory networks.
Utilizing and balancing dual-attention to memories and sensory stimuli (bi-lateral stimulation) in brief sets helps the individual access and appropriately process distressing, traumatic material locked in the brain’s neural networks.
These trauma networks are stored in a state-specific form – a state of high arousal marked by fear and overwhelm. The AIP model also helps us understand that the brain is innately adaptive and capable of generalizing new learnings across many domains. Our brains are resilient and self-healing when given the safe and supportive environment. EMDR simply catalyzes our brain’s fantastic capabilities!
Preparation, preparation, preparation! No matter the therapy, comprehensive client preparation is vital to their well-being. Preparation involves proper education about EMDR and what to expect through each state and phase. It is also crucial that clients learn and demonstrate adequate use of emotional regulation, grounding and resourcing skills before moving forward through to the reprocessing of disturbing material.
What we LOVE about EMDR
It works! What’s not to love about an approach that actually helps people find freedom from their past?
EMDR therapy is body, mind and spirit oriented
There are many opportunities to use EMDR creatively and in conjunctive with other therapies
There is a rich emphasis on connection, relationships and attachment
EMDR provides greater client and clinican protection against re-traumatization or secondary trauma
Practicing mindfulness and tapping into one’s intuition is essential to the EMDR therapeutic process
We are lovers of science and EMDR is backed by decades of sound science and real life case studies
EMDR has structured yet flexible protocols that help guide the process