Wendi Adams (formerly McCutchen), LCPC, CADC
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing)
Whether a "big T" or a "little t" trauma, these may have life long effects on an individual and the way they run their lives. "Big T" traumas are defined as life threatening accidents, illnesses, or events such as sudden loss, ongoing physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or assaults that were life changing.
"Little t" traumas such as neglect, belittling, bullying, or living in unstable emotional environments can be every bit as impacting on a person's healthy emotional development.
Whatever the trauma experienced, we as human beings often process the events in our lives into irrational beliefs about ourselves or the world around us as a way to cope or to make sense of things that are beyond our control. These beliefs can lead to sabotaged relationships, addictions, depression, anxiety, self harm, eating disorders, and many other ineffective coping skills.
EMDR therapy allows the brain to "re-process" the previously irrational beliefs into more rational, healthy, and effective beliefs; thereby implementing life changing outcomes for clients.
How Does EMDR Work?
We know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. EMDR seems to effectively shift the way the brain processes information so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings from the original event or when the event is brought to mind. A client will still remember, but with less disturbing emotional or physical side effects.
No one knows for certain how any form of psychotherapy works neuro-biologically, however we do know that the goal of most therapeutic approaches is for a client to ultimately be able to ease the distress of single incident or lifelong trauma. EMDR utilizes a combination of theoretical approach, talk therapy, and bilateral eye movement ( similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep) to bring about effective and lasting change.
EMDR is not hypnosis, nor does EMDR therapy force the client to relive the events of the trauma or to speak out loud the details. EMDR's approach is reported by clients to be non-invasive, safe, and highly effective.
How Long Does EMDR Take?
One or more sessions may be required to understand the nature of the problem and to decide whether EMDR would be an effective treatment approach. Once it is agreed upon that EMDR is appropriate the actual EMDR therapy may begin.
A typical EMDR session lasts from 60 to 90 minutes. The type of problem, life circumstances, and the amount of previous trauma will determine how many treatment sessions are necessary.
Oftentimes it is the processing a client experiences in between sessions, completion of homework assignments as necessary, and efficient development of outside emotional support that determines the pace at which a client is able to "move through" the trauma.
EMDR therapy can be at times be effective at a rapid pace, but is seldom considered to be "short term therapy."
What Kind of Problems Can EMDR Treat?
Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, clinicians also have reported success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions:
· panic attacks/anxiety
· complicated grief/loss
· dissociative disorders
· disturbing memories
· self esteem
· stress reduction
· sexual, emotional, and/or physical abuse (including bullying or exclusion)
· body dysmorphic disorders
· personality disorders