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EMDR Explained

The brain and the body want to heal. If we have a cut or a bruise, our bodies will usually be able to repair themselves, whether or not we understand how.

Sometimes, with more serious injuries, our bodies need help to start the healing process – wounds need to be cleaned; stitches, splints or plaster-casts may need to be applied; physical therapy may be necessary. Yet even with all the astounding facilitation that modern medicine provides, it is still our own bodies that do the actual healing.

It is a long held belief that psychological wounds take much longer to heal than physical wounds. Bruising sustained during an assault may disappear within a month, while the memory of that assault and associated fear may remain with a person for a lifetime. Yet treatment with EMDR suggests that this does not have to be the case.

“The brain is predisposed to heal itself – just like the body – but it sometimes needs help facilitating that process. EMDR provides that help.”
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Conditions that can benefit from EMDR Therapy 

In my practice as an EMDRIA-Certified EMDR therapist, I have used EMDR to treat a variety of concerns, including:

  • anxiety

  • attachment trauma

  • car accidents

  • grief and loss

  • insomnia

  • medical and dental traumas

  • nightmares

  • panic disorder

  • performance anxiety or exam anxiety

  • PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder)

  • phobias (including emetephobia and fear of flying)

  • shame issues

  • somatic complaints and chronic pain

EMDR Process

By using eye movements that mimic REM sleep, EMDR stimulates the brain’s natural processing mechanism so that the fragments of disturbing material from the past can be accessed, processed and integrated into a cohesive experience and then into the overall life story.

In the case of a recent, single incident trauma such as a mugging or a hurricane that occurred in the past couple of months, the disturbance can usually be cleared up within a few sessions of EMDR. When there are a number of traumatic incidents, or the same trauma was repeated multiple times (as in the case of physical or sexual abuse), EMDR therapists create a “target sequence plan” that lists all of the traumatic events and memories to be covered in the course of therapy.

Generally, by starting with the first chronological event on the list and moving to the worst, the disturbance level of all of the memories on the plan will be brought down significantly, again enabling improvements relatively quickly.

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